There is always lots of buzz in Christian circles about Christmas.’You know, it really is a pagan holiday’.
‘It’s actually just the celebration of capitalistic greed.’
‘More people commit suicide at Christmas than at any other time of the year.’
‘Jesus was really born in April.’
‘We need to be more sensitive to other faith groups during this Holiday Season.’
Or my personal favourite, ‘Let’s put the Christ back in Christmas!’
Forget about it. Relax. Enjoy.
If you want added meaning, then use this time to . . .
. . . remember those in need . . . spend time with your family . . . give a boost to the economy by racking up your VISA . . . wish someone happy Hanukkah . . . reflect on the cosmic implications of the birth of Jesus . . . take a break from South Beach . . . sleep.
There is nothing inherantly sacred about Christmas, so don’t worry about searching for the ‘real meaning’ of the holiday. Give it meaning.For me this year, Christmas means seeing my kids get caught up in the magic of the lights and the snow and the expectation of gifts. For me it means drinking eggnog lattes and having afternoon naps after large meals. For me it means finding the time and the energy to dream new dreams for Southpoint. For me it means confronting my apathy toward people in need.
What meaning will you give the holiday?
Ryan and I are rather intruiged by the sentence, “There is nothing inherantly sacred about Christmas”.
Care to expand?
Sacred means to be set apart for a purpose. In the Bible, generally, sacred is that which is set apart for the purpose of bringing glory to God.
Some ordinary things are designated as sacred – like the vessels in the temple. Some things are declared sacred – like the ground where Moses met with God at the burning bush. Very few things are inherently sacred.
Inherent means “existing in someone or something as a permanent and inseparable element, quality or attribute”. Humans, made in the image of God, are inherently sacred – set apart to lead the rest of creation in bringing glory and honour to the Creator. The seventh day is also set apart to be holy . . .
Christmas is not inherently sacred. That is, the holiday season is not set apart by God, nor does it find its origins in the words of Jesus or even the practice of the early church. None of the NT writers mention the exact date of Jesus’ birth – it wasn’t celebrated or declared sacred by them.
In fact, most of our Christmas traditions are rooted in pagan rituals or the post-Constantine response to them. For a challenging read about Christmas from a Jewish perspective go here: http://www.simpletoremember.com/vitals/Christmas_TheRealStory.htm
If Christmas is not inherently sacred then we have options. To not celebrate it. To celebrate it but not connect it with faith. Or to designate it as sacred – a day set aside to bring glory to God for the birth of Jesus.
Christmas doesn’t come with an inherent, built in meaning. We need to give it meaning.
At one time, Christians banned the Christmas Tree because of its association with pagan rituals. Now, some places are banning the tree because of its association with Christianity!
Thanks for the elaboration!
Intrigued by some of your comments on inherent sacredness:
Is the seventh day still sacred? If so, churches might want to consider worship gatherings on Saturday (the 7th day) and turn off Hockey Night. Are the SDAs ahead of the curve here?
Also, are all humans really created inherently sacred? Inherently we are sinful, no? I thought that only in Christ are we set apart for God’s purpose. Our inherent purposes (I know mine at least) are anything but glorifying to God. In Christ we become a new creation.
Many of the early Christians still gathered in the synagogue on Saturday and then seemed to meet early before work on Sunday to celebrate the resurrection. It seems that eventually the Lord’s Day (Sunday) became the established time to meet for Christian worship. As the gospel went out to the gentiles, the practice of Sabbath (Saturday) gatherings seemed to die out.
So what do we do with the command to honour the Sabbath? I think that part of the answer has to do with understanding the Jesus is our Sabbath. Also, Hebrews speaks of a Sabbath rest that remains for the people of God, which I think is a beautiful picture of heaven. Paul seems to indicate that no day needs to be held special above another. So, what do you think?
About humans . . . being sinful is not the first thing that is said about humanity. Being made in God’s image is the first thing and is the distinct feature that separates us from the animals. Our sin mars and scars that image, but the image remains. In Christ, that image is being restored. All human life has a sacred quality to it. It was and is set apart for God’s purpose and glory in a unique way.
The ancient kings (and some still today) would place images of themselves throughout the extent of their realm to declare to all their authority to rule. I believe being made in God’s image has a similar meaning. We were sent originally to fill the earth. This isn’t just about population explosion. It’s about filling the earth with the declaration that God is King.
The great commission is a resending into all the earth to continue and fulfill that original great command.
Thanks for the response!
I agree with your clarification on the sabbath. Christ fulfills that part of the law, and if he is our rest than we are keeping the sabbath, it is no longer tied to a certain day of the week.
I see your point on humans and inherent sacredness. Agreed, the human race is special (sacred) to God, he did die to save us after all! My confusion was I was attaching more meaning to sacred than you intended. I read that you were writing that humans are “basically good” and that is something that I would not agree with.
Again, thanks for your response.