Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmas Thoughts

‘Tis the season to be jolly’.   Hmmm.  The older I get, the less jolly I feel at Christmas time.  It seems the real reason for the season, the birth of Jesus, is slowly being pushed aside to make room for all the commercialism that now dominates this holiday.  I don’t like it.

There has also been a lot of skepticism over the past few years about the roots of the celebration of Christmas, and so I decided to investigate it myself.  It seems that Christmas, initially called the Saturnalia Festival, started as a pagan holiday.  Romans adopted it with hopes of turning people to Christianity.

From “Christmas, the Real Story”

          In the 4th century CE, Christianity imported the Saturnalia festival hoping to take the pagan masses in with it.  Christian leaders succeeded in converting to Christianity large numbers of pagans by promising them that they could continue to celebrate the Saturnalia as Christians.[2]
          The problem was that there was nothing intrinsically Christian about Saturnalia. To remedy this, these Christian leaders named Saturnalia’s concluding day, December 25th, to be Jesus’ birthday.


I know there are numerous Christians who have chosen to forego Christmas because of these origins.  I have thought long and hard about this scandalous past and have decided that I don’t want to give up the celebration of the birth of our Savior because of its shady beginnings almost 2000 years ago.  If we give up on Christmas, we will lose the most valuable opportunity of the year to reach out to others to share the gospel story.  As rapidly as Christian rights are being removed, we must keep Jesus’ birthday alive for as long as we can.  It doesn’t matter when it happened; the story needs to be told.. 
Besides, I don’t think Jesus would have overlooked an opportunity to tell the good news, especially to a group of worldly people who didn’t follow Him.  He would have been the first to invite the pagan celebrators of Saturnalia to His house for a birthday party.
There are many, now, in our society, who live these holidays far from the truth, as the pagans did, but we can’t allow that to blemish what we know to be the reason for the season
Sure, we can become overwhelmed at the worldly celebration, but we have the right to decide how we spend our time during this season.  We can choose to not get caught up in the excessive spending and busyness that easily engulfs us and distracts us from the birth of Jesus. 
What a wonderful time to reach out to the needy or to share the good news with those who have discounted it.  We are all in a giving and receiving mood this time of year, so let’s not discard these golden opportunities to share the story of Jesus.  Besides, it’s much easier to spot the naysayers, during the holidays, who want to take away our rights to display a nativity scene or sing Christmas carols.   Those are the people we need to reach out to the most.
What’s important is that we continue to observe this momentous occasion.  The world will always add their own spin to what we do as Christians.  We can’t allow that to interfere with the truth of why we celebrate Christmas.  If we do, then the enemy has won.  He doesn’t want the story of Jesus known.  He will always try to make us doubt what we know to be the truth.  He will keep us busy following the customs of the world and miss the importance of this day.  Choosing to give up Christmas because of its origins is succumbing to the legalism of religion that Jesus detested.
I visited my mother’s church today, and they showed a video of a flash-mob at a crowded mall breaking out in Christmas carols.  It was awesome!  People stopped everything they were doing and joined in.  Two actors dressed as Mary and Joseph walked out carrying an infant during Silent Night, and everyone in that mall got down on their knees.  It still brings tears to my eyes as I write about it.  The traditions and music we have passed down for generations are a powerful force behind the importance of this holiday.  We can’t ever forget that. 

Christmas is not about celebrating on the exact date that Jesus was born with precise details; it’s about telling the miraculous story about the birth of our Savior.  

2 comments:

Ginger said...

I love this, Sandee! Thanks for including the history behind the celebration. And you are certainly right that the enemy will do all he can to keep us from talking about Jesus as often as he can. Love you and hope you guys have a great Christmas!

Sandee Lester said...

Thanks Ginger! I'm sure Christmas will be such fun at your house. Have a great one! Love you too!