Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas Gripes

OK. I want to say something. I just read a little of this:

Christian Group Launches New Attack on Christmas Commercialism

If it's December, then there must be frost in the air, gingerbread in the oven, and ... right on time, Bill O'Reilly and the other defenders of Christmas bemoaning the prevalence of "Happy Holidays" - rather than "Merry Christmas" - greetings.

There's a war on Christmas, O'Reilly recently reminded viewers, driven by those who "loathe the baby Jesus." This season, a holiday-dÉcor company is marketing the CHRIST-mas Tree, a bushy artificial tree with a giant cross where the trunk should be. And the Colorado-based Focus on the Family is continuing its Stand for Christmas campaign to highlight the offenses of Christmas-denying retailers. The campaign was launched, according to its website, because "citizens across the nation were growing dissatisfied with the tendency of corporations to omit references to Christmas from holiday promotions."

See the rest of the story here:

Here's my laywoman's take on the whole thing and it may not be popular with some of my brothers and sisters in Christ. But I'm going to put myself in sacred shoes for a brief second. My birthday is in December. (No, really. It is.) Now, I already told everyone that it's not the day of my birth that I want you all to celebrate. I want you to celebrate maybe whatever good I do. Maybe my life after I die. Maybe nothing at all! I'm just trying to live as God wants me to, after all. (in Jesus' case, we should celebrate his death AND resurrection which is how we got the gift of eternal life.).

Now, no one really listens to me about that and they decide they really want to celebrate my birth anyway. But instead of doing it when I was born - December - they decide that it's warmer in June so let's make it June instead. And the celebrants want everyone on board so they make sure everyone knows, "We are celebrating Monica's birthday in June! GET ON BOARD!"

Now this is just me but why would I be thrilled with that? Still, I don't protest necessarily because it's always nice to be loved and honored. But really, does the whole thing not seem a little off?

The birth of Jesus is clearly important, lest we have no Savior. The death of Jesus is clearly important, lest we have no way to heaven. But the focus is not supposed to be on BABY Jesus because he's not a baby anymore, folk. The focus is not supposed to be on Jesus on the cross because didn't you hear? HE GOT UP! He's not on the cross anymore. The time to celebrate is Easter, when He showed the world who He was and is and covered all our sins for eternity (IF you accept Him, that is.)

I honestly don't get the commotion. We insist on sticking Jesus where He wasn't in the first place and get mad when the rest of the world doesn't conform. No, we don't want to hearken back to the days of idol worship - ohhhh wait. That IS these times still, isn't it?

So Christmas, the celebration of Jesus' birth, becomes this us-against-them mess when it most likely was church officials once upon a time deciding to sanctify some pagan holiday and force Christ on non-believers or at least people who didn't openly profess Christ. Frankly, when you can't control something, you get mad about the things you think you CAN control. Might this be one of those times?

People, people. Jesus never forced himself on anyone. He didn't ask us to either. He told us to be lights, cities on the hill. To let our Spirits speak for us. To let our actions tell to whom we belong. And yes, sometimes you must be very vocal, but really God needs no help. He can show Himself quite easily, thank you. We are told to talk about him but if people don't listen to you, shake the dust off your feet and move on.

I don't personally believe it's my believing in his birth that will get me through His gates. It's His death and resurrection. That's what He said. Everyone learned it at least once in Sunday School. "Whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life." Believing in Him isn't just believing Jesus was born. It is believing IN Him and what He said, understanding that God and Jesus are one. "Romans 10:9 - If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord AND believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you shall be saved."

There has to be a reason you don't find the day of his birth in the Bible yet you do find this:
Mark 14: 1 Now the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were only two days away, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some sly way to arrest Jesus and kill him. 2 "But not during the Feast," they said, "or the people may riot."
Note the specific time of year is included here.

Mark 15:1 -6 Very early in the morning, the chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin, reached a decision. They bound Jesus, led him away and handed him over to Pilate.

2"Are you the king of the Jews?" asked Pilate.
"Yes, it is as you say," Jesus replied.

3The chief priests accused him of many things. 4So again Pilate asked him, "Aren't you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of."

5But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed.

6Now it was the custom at the Feast to release a prisoner whom the people requested.
Again, time of day and time of year mentioned. I could go on but what you will find is more mentions of time of year and day. Clearly, TIME was a factor and it was important that everyone know it. His birth? Well, Luke talks about it for 20 versus. Matthew at least gave it a whole chapter, though he started off talking about genealogy first and it all totals 25 verses. Mark and John? They start off talking about the divinity of Jesus and he's all grown up here. And yes, I do know about the canon and the books of the Bible that weren't included (Master's classes in Religious Studies weren't for naught) but I just can't allow my spirit to get all frustrated and entangled in all this. God said, "Call to me and I will tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know." So don't be confused and crazed - ask God and let Him give you the peace that passes all understanding about this topic.

Don't get me wrong. I didn't say toss Christmas. We are a people of tradition and that's why it takes so long to change things, even for the better. Kids love it and we love giving them this fun time of year. Tradition tends to get in the way of common sense sometimes, however.

We can enjoy the season and say He is the reason for it and it would be true in a creation sort of way - God DID make all the seasons. We can decide we just want to make this the time of year to say Happy Birthday to Jesus, even if he was possibly born in late October like some scholars say. We can give gifts to each other and say it's all in His honor (starting to stretch things a bit here). But can we just stop fooling ourselves? We do this because WE choose to, not because God asked us to. We want to really show our Christmas spirit when we should be showing our Christian spirit all year, but hey, a little once a year is better than nothing, right? We want to thank God for Jesus when again, we could do that all the time. The non-Christians take this moment to show they aren't pagans after all and they too think about God and that's good, but God wants YOU all the time, my friends. You'll have to talk to Him, however, about what that means in your life specifically.

I just don't want to get offended when people say Happy Holidays because there is more than one holiday going on this month. I don't choose to get offended if you say Merry Christmas to me because I know Jesus is OUR reason, but I seriously doubt He's as caught up in all this as we all are. I also don't care what you think if I choose to say Merry Christmas because I live with the traditions too.

I've said it before and I 'll say it again, I think we are ALL going to be very surprised one day to find out what DOES matter to Him that we didn't know or chose to ignore. The things He doesn't say that day will probably befuddle us all - "God, you didn't care about that? But we fought for it in your name!"

The world can try all it wants to but I just don't see it banishing God no matter how hard it tries. If those of us who love Him and follow Him can just do that - love Him and follow Him - He is sure to go nowhere. If we don't, He's still here but it's on our heads if we didn't share Him. We can do that on December 25th..and 26th...and 27th...and June....

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