Friday, December 26, 2008

Relooking Christmas: Why is Christmas worth celebrating?

An original entry by ltrulez on December 24, 2008, found here.

Attention has been brought many a times to the downfall of Christmas though commercialism. Surely there is some merit to that when we look around and we see the ‘spirit’ of Christmas being fueled by advertisements that tell us we need things that are really just wants. Every generation rebels against the previous generation and now bitter or disillusioned Christians are starting to look at Christmas and wonder why we celebrate it. Is not Jesus born around September/October (although we don’t know because the bible never said) and December 25 was just an appropriation of pagan religions? The early church have taken this day since AD 354 and used it to celebrate the birth of Christ. Although the beginnings may be controversial, this has been a practice for 1654 years of the Christian tradition. The question still remains then, do we celebrate it? I will attempt to give a few arguments towards why we should and why this is a practice that needs to be and can be redeemed.

In our current culture, something really sad has happened. We have cut ourselves out of history and focused on the individual experience. What happens to me right now is what is important. Let us forget the past and forget the future. That is why this so called ‘tolerance’ is also so rampant. Ancient cultures used to know who they are by knowing their roots. I personally have been subject to this idea. What matters now is now. However it is prideful to think this way, forgetting what is behind and neglecting what is ahead. That is why so many people do not even want children nowadays; they want to live out their lives for their own comfort! What a way to destroy a civilization! Another reason why this is prideful, is to think that we can now think for our own so well that we no longer trust or stand on the shoulders of past giants. The question is posed, “why do we celebrate a day when every day is God’s day?” I understand the merit of this question however I can also see that this stems from individualistic thinking. The reason why a day is set apart is so that the church as a collective can worship and focus on one particular important point of the gospel. Community worship and community experiencing God is the way God has made the faith to be like! Faith was never meant to be experienced by you but by being in a collective you are blessed and you bless. The church calendar has been set by early Christians who have over a millennium agreed to the importance of these traditions. As Christians, many of us find ourselves subject to other calendars but we are called to define our lives on a)The Word of God (Jesus, the Way the Truth and the Life) b) The bible which is our closest witness to Christ and c) the Church whom God has given authority to represent him on earth. As long as the latter is based on the former, then we are so called to follow such traditions. Now Christmas is a season set by the church to remember God’s gift to us (John 1:14) to reveal his glory in His meekness. Certainly celebrating the birth of Christ is not contrary to the bible and therefore my suggestion is that standing on a long tradition of Christianity we should celebrate Christmas with the multitude of believers in reverence to God for what he has done for us.

Having said all this, it is right to question the commercialism of Christmas and right to be excited at the new reflection of the never ending story of God’s gift to us by becoming flesh! This Christmas I have found a few references in the Bible to this miracle and one of them is found in Revelation 12. We are accustomed to singing “Silent Night, Holy Night”. This is a song that points to the fact that Christ has came on earth to bring peace on earth. This is true and respected however Jesus also says in Matthew 10:34,38-39 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword… And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Of course Jesus doesn’t mean he wants the nation to rage in war with one another, but what he means is the moment he’s come on earth there has been a raging spiritual war that began the day he was born and will continue until his second coming. Revelation 12 speaks of the story of Jesus’ birth and how there was a great red dragon (Satan) who was waiting to destroy him the moment he is born. “Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world- he has thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.” (Revelation 12:7-9) After God has protected Jesus from being devoured by the dragon he “became furious with the woman (mother of the child) and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.” The night Christ was born sure was holy, but it was not silent… heaven was waging a full out war with the devil!

What does this mean to us this Christmas? It was an exciting revelation to know that this Christmas season we are fighting against the deceiver of this world. Yes, Christmas should be celebrated and it needs to be redeemed from its materialism! We have from the text been given a mission to fight along with Christ against the devil who has deceived the mass. People are not free when bound to materialism, when they go take loans for money they do not have to give gifts that do not satisfy. What is our calling then? To point our fingers and shout and condemn? No, Christ has given us new hearts rather to live a different lifestyle, to preach the good news and to show by example what it means to be truly free. The cure to materialism is giving, we should as families start a new revolution and culture of receiving the good news and the gift of Christ and turn that around by being givers to those in need. In our household this year, we have decided that none of us need anything any longer because we have been so abundantly blessed… so instead of buying each other gifts we as a family are giving houses in need a goat, a pair of pigs, and relief funds to persecuted Christian brothers and sisters in Orissa. Now as a family, we will bless them and bless each other by praying in one heart for others and one another. This is gospel, this is salvation not only for others but our own souls. Yes, with Christ a new revolution and a new lifestyle can come! I share this with you all not to boast in our strengths, rather we are by far not a perfect family… but this is to invite you to join in a revolution that Christ set the day he was born to now and to imitate us as we seek to imitate Christ who has given up his heavenly home to become a child in a manger for our sakes (Philippians 2). Praise be to God, Amen.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

way to steal it Tim. ;) haha but it was good. Thanks for posting it and then posting the link.

PS: we need to work on a skype which we can skype.