Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas



I feel conflicted about Christmas. I'm happily anticipating the holiday this year for several reasons. It will be a long weekend away from the office. My older kids will come home. Dad will come down. We’ll give gifts to the kids. I enjoy the decorations Lisa displays in the house. The ornaments on the Christmas tree remind me of years past. Lisa is a wonderful cook, and I enjoy what she feeds me.
Nevertheless, there are many things that puzzle me about Christmas. The New Testament church did not celebrate what we call Christmas. The Bible is ambiguous regarding the time of Jesus’ birth, but better guesses would indicate that it did not occur in December. Personally, I think Sukkot, or Feast of Booths, is the likely anniversary of Jesus incarnation. He who came to tabernacle among men ordained this day to remind Israel that they were travelers in a hostile land. Israel was to look forward to the promise of rest that is fulfilled only in Jesus Christ. In defense of December 25, I concede that if Sukkot is the anniversary of the birth of Jesus, then sometime around the end of December the Annunciation would have occurred (Luke 1:26-38).
I am puzzled by Christians who “defend” Christmas by confronting society with what they perceive as improper celebrations. This seems by be a type of bully evangelism over the sanctity of a day never ordained in Scripture. Surely, a little peace on earth and good will toward men would be more appropriate.
At the same time, I’m puzzled by Christians who incorporate a non-Christian deity (Santa Claus) in their celebration regardless of their passion for Christmas. Consider the attributes of Santa Claus (omniscience, omnipresence, immortality, etc) and tell me that he isn’t a deity.
I am puzzled by Christians who justify the Christmas tree by quoting legends about Martin Luther, or by associating the Christmas tree with the cross. To me, the Christmas tree is a place where we celebrate family. If Jesus bore my sins in his body on the cross (1 Peter 1:24), why would I hang sentimental ornaments on a Christmas tree that symbolizes the cross of suffering and shame? Moreover, if the Christmas tree holds any religious significance at all, why would I bring such an idol (object of reverence) into my house?
Around Christmastime, I remind myself that Christians have only one New Covenant holiday. According to Hebrews 3:7, Hebrews 4:7, and Psalm 95:7-8, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” Today, is the day that God established. Today, we commemorate the incarnation and sacrifice of Jesus Christ in our lives. Today, we respond to God’s voice in faith. I ask myself, while we have Today, what value does Christmas add?
While I debate the Christian’s proper response to the Christmas holiday, I am also amazed that for a day or a season, much of the world pauses and some men still contemplate that, He who was from the beginning, appeared to men, announcing the Word of life (1 John 1:1-2). I am awestruck when I contemplate that the Word, who called the universe into existence,  became flesh and tabernacled among men. (John 1:1-14, Hebrews 1:1-2)
I am reminded that upon the birth of Jesus Christ, God reached out both to the shepherds who were nearby, and to the Magi who were far away, and he drew them to His Son. We should celebrate this, Today.

No comments:

Post a Comment