Monday, December 1, 2008

Christmas as I know it

Now to you who believe, this stone [Jesus Christ] is precious. But to those who do not believe, “The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone, and, "A stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall." They stumble because they disobey the message-which is also what they were destined for.”--I Peter 2:7-8 NIV
(my emphasis added)

No matter where you live in the US, or even in the "Western World", you know that Christmas is approaching, regardless of whether you are someone who practices active religious faith. In many ways, Christmas has become a cultural holiday and is no longer much of a religious observance. It has been commercialized, and degraded by the desire of greed--children making long lists of toys they have no need for and that most of their families can't practically afford to get them and parents who go deeper and deeper into debt to provide a fraction of what is on that list.

If you follow my writings, you know that I have been struggling for weeks with the commercialism of this season. I am not sure which is worse--commercials almost non-stop from 7am until 9pm of toys, toys and more toys, or the onslaught of commercials depicting a man giving his "beloved" a large, expensive piece of jewelry. Both nauseate me.

And yet I am tied up somewhere in between detesting the commercialism of the holiday and loving it. Sounds ironic that I should at first complain and then be brazen enough to claim to embrace it? Not really. Most of what we do today, even if we are people of faith, to celebrate Christmas is little more than pagan ritual. The winter festivals of yonder year have come home to roost in the Christian home under the guise of "Christian symbolism". Our trees, evergreen, of course, derive from the European festivals of Yule, which sprouted long before the catholic church had reached beyond the Roman Empire. Yule was celebrated in late December into early January, to celebrate the shortest day of the year and the sun god.

And caroling...even caroling has its roots in pagan celebrations.

So, are we truly surprised that this holiday has become synonymous with secularism, pagan rituals, and consumer spending?


I don't know just yet. I have had many, many ideas. And I'm going to be perfectly honest, I am afraid of them. Well, not of the ideas, but I'm afraid of the resistance of my family and friends to them. I mean, who isn't going to think I need psychiatric help when I take down the tree and replace it with a crude manger with hay, flanked by a cross with a crown of thorns atop it?

And yet, it may just be that it requires something that drastic to get back, to move back to the real meaning of what we are "supposed" to be celebrating. And if we, as Christians, aren't willing to create a separate celebration, perhaps we should just call it the detested "X-mas" as we have already taken Christ and the mass/holy day out of it.

Just a thought.

Oh, and please keep grumpy comments to a minimum. This is really about me seeking the truth and sharing my journey more than it is an absolute truth or stand at this point. But my goal is to get back to a loving Father who sent Jesus as a tiny baby, knowing that He could never have the relationship He wanted with us without a Savior. And He was wise enough to know that we would reject an adult who just "showed up" one day to die for us. I mean, most of us rejected him as a baby...

Father, this continues to press upon my heart. I am less excited about Christmas this year and I think it's because you are telling me that we really are missing the point. Speak to me clearly, and guide me. Encourage and strengthen me so that as I continue on this path toward Your heart and Your will, I will not cower when it seems tough to do what you have asked me to do. And let the devotion of my heart be upon you, and not upon packages, presents, wrapping paper and bows. In Jesus' name, AMEN.

1 comment:

Christina said...

I can't believe how it's gotten either. I don't know about replacing the tree, that might be kind of hard, maybe you could start somewhere a little at a time and slide them into where you want to be in a few years. Just a thought. I had a friend that only gave her kids 3 gifts every year just like the 3 wise men gave Jesus. Not a bad idea.