Today's Quote

“If people let government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny.” Thomas Jefferson

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Dilemma of Christmas

A few years ago this holiday became a dilemma for me and our family. Steeped in pagan tradition and worship, I began to wonder if truly this was something that a Christian should participate in. Understanding that it really wasn't about celebrating the birth of Christ (which the early church did not do, nor are we commanded to do)and that it was a pagan holiday and all the trimmings and trappings had everything to do with ancient pagan religions put me in a tailspin. There is a passage in the old testament, can't think of it exactly right now, in which one of the old kings was losing revenue during one of the old testament holy days because his subjects were going to other cities during that time. So he erected some statues and called the problem solved by telling them that they could now celebrate those holy days in his kingdom and worship God with those statues. Well, God destroyed those statues saying that you cannot worship Him with false images. Then there is the 2nd commandment: Ex. 20:4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Seems pretty clear about graven images. But then: Ex. 20:5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me. I have never bowed down nor served any of the "images" of Christmas. Back to the people of that kingdom....they were worshiping those images as if they were God. And then we all know the story of the golden calf. Again, the Israelites were worshiping the calf as if it were God. So, our family started weaning ourselves off of Christmas. It was not easy and still, the struggle and dilemma remained year after year. Many of my decorations did not come out and for the past two years we have not had a tree. I should have felt right about our decision, but for some reason I have fretted over it every year. This year it has weighed heavily on me all year long. I want to do the right thing and I want to bring my children up in the way that they should go. However, I am afraid that making life so rigid and taking away what they see as joyful and fun will only drive them in the opposite direction. I saw this so many times in college from girls who came from very strict homes. They went wild and completely rejected everything their parents tried to teach. Jesus Christ taught with compassion and He expected the same from His disciples. Maybe there is something there for me to learn. Maybe He did so because teaching with rigidity would only drive His sheep further from Him rather than bring them to hear His message. In other words, if I am so busy being rigid and stuck in what I think needs to be done and denying what my children enjoy and love (not talking generalities here, so don't go there) then maybe I am actually doing the opposite of what I want. Like the Old Testament covenants and the 5 million laws of Leviticus, rigidity is impossible to keep. Maybe God understood that and intentionally set up the Israelites for failure because if they kept the law perfectly they would have had no need for Jesus Christ. At least that is my thinking. Then I had a conversation with a friend of mine who had been going through the same thing. She had a talk with her Dad. Without going into the whole conversation he questioned her by asking if by having a Christmas tree was she worshiping that tree? Was she expecting great fertility by having the tree in her home? Or did she just simply enjoy the beauty of such a decoration? He went on to ask the same question about other pagan symbols of the holiday and her answer was always no. So his point was that if one didn't think of those things as spiritual or holy, then were they anything more than any other decoration in her home. Hmmmm...Ex. 20:5 comes to mind. Maybe he is right. I have little sculptures and all sorts of such things all over my home and I suppose that I could think of any one of them in a holy/religious manner if I so chose, but I don't because only Jesus Christ is Holy to me. It is His gift that I hold dear and it has always been His gift that was the most precious and most talked about in our home at Christmas. If I want to rid my family of everything that at one time was considered holy by some group or another then I would need to cut down every oak tree on my farm because they were once holy to the Druids. Now that would be ridiculous. I don't regard them as holy, I regard them as beautiful but there is simply no spiritual nor religious significance to them. I can take that same power from the symbols and rituals of Christmas and any other pagan holiday as well. I have to say thanks to my friend's Dad. He is far wiser than he knows. Christmas will come back into our home. I am glad because it was always my favorite holiday simply because of the joy that abounds at that time of year and the memories associated with people now long gone from my life. My girls will be happy that they can once again trudge through the woods to pick out the perfect tree with their Dad like I did with mine. Special memories will be made and I don't think that God has anything against that. The truth of the matter is that whether or not it truly was the time of Christ's birth or whether or not it was to be celebrated or not, it is the gift that He gave that we should celebrate, remember, and be thankful for. If that gift isn't enough to have joy about and focus on then I don't know what is. For me and mine we will be joyful and thankful. Blessings, Kat

1 comment:

Missy said...

Thanks for sharing this. It is something my family has also been struggling with the last couple of years. Some food for thought.