Sunday, November 27, 2011

Mr Interesting Questions Christmas

So, we have this friend. I will call him Mr. Interesting. Mr. Interesting is a Christian, and he really, truly, passionately loves the Lord. This is part of the reason we love him so dearly. He blesses us, encourages us, and sometimes causes us to think about things we have never really considered before.

Sometimes this is painful.

Recently, Mr. Interesting gently challenged us to consider *why* we really celebrate Christmas, questioning the pagan origins of the different traditions and bringing into question whether God would really have us *Christianize* a pagan holiday, or whether He wants us to worship and celebrate Him in the ways He has specifically commanded in scripture.

Mr. Interesting contends that Christmas is *not* a Christian holiday, rather, he believes God sees it as an abomination.

Yikes.

Honestly, my first reaction was just shock. And then I think I may have gotten a teeny bit defensive, because whether a pagan thousands of years ago started cutting down trees, decorating them and making them into idols to worship- well, that was certainly NOT what I was doing when I set up my Christmas tree and put my Christ centered ornaments on it and talked with my children about the "true meaning of Christmas".

Yet, at the same time, I really do genuinely *try* to see things from different viewpoints, to really listen and try to understand where they are coming from. And, as I said before, I love Mr. Interesting. And I know he loves Jesus, too, so I decided to do a little research and pray about it. Trever and I discussed every angle we could see and asked for feedback to see angles that were not quite so visible and prayed God would not allow us to let our selves get in the way of what He truly wanted for our family.

You know what we came up with though? We don't have an answer. Yes, there are some pagan origins to some of our Christmas traditions. {Incidentally, there are also some pagan origins to almost everything we do- from the days and months on our calendar to the way we tell time, though, granted, these are not issues that involve worship.} We are left wondering, should Christians *redeem* this holiday for Christ? Or should we elect not to participate?

We don't know. We respect brothers and sisters on both sides of the fence in this scenario. We truly see issues with both sides AND merit on both sides. I don't know if there is a right answer.

Trever finally suggested we go ahead and participate this year, praying our way through it, and trying to be as sensitive as possible to God's leading. The Bible says a good tree can not bear bad fruit, neither can a bad tree bear good fruit. Trever thinks we should examine the fruit, then decide if it is truly helping our family to honor Christ.

Some may think we are taking things too far, that we are taking this too seriously, while others may think we have not taken things far enough, that we should immediately cease to participate. But we are really at a loss, and honestly, we JUST want to do what God wants.

We are trying to avoid the secular aspects- Santa, materialism, etc. and focus on the aspects of the holiday we see as being God honoring and Christ centered.

But if I am truly honest, I would tell you I am a bit confused about the whole thing. And I am a little worried about Mr. Interesting coming over to fellowship with us and having to explain the tree we are planning to put up with our children. *sigh*

I realize some of you may think this entire thing is silly, but really, I believe we should think about the things we do and why we do them, especially in relation to worship. I've been told one or two {thousand} times that I tend to over analyze things. I do. And I have married a {wonderful} man who tends to do the same. Even so, I encourage you to think these matters through. You might one day have a dear friend like our Mr. Interesting, and when/if you do, you'll need to know why you believe/do the things you do.

Can I solicit your prayers and encouragement for our family during this time?

I invite you to share your {gentle, loving} thoughts in the wee box below.

Much love to you all,
~amy danielle

9 comments:

  1. Amy, I think it is easy to become a bit too intense over this, and it sounds as though your friend just might be.
    I think that if we do all to the glory of the Lord, always remembering the reason for celebrating His birth, we are doing it right. It is an opportunity to teach the gospel to our families and friends too.

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  2. Remember God is not in confusion...that was my first thought...we do not do Santa...and our kids only receive 3 gifts...that is all Jesus received. I think you guys are doing the right thing...and I do believe praying and seeking God for what is right for your family is the right thing to do:D I can't wait to talk with you about this:D xo

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  3. I too have a Pastor friend who challenged me with this. I may just address this question on my blog this week, since I see this issue as very divisive in the Christian community and feel that it borders on legalism. I think at times we can nit pick things to death with the very best of intentions. I feel that if you celebrate the birth of Christ by putting up a tree then it would be wrong to make a fellow believer feel guilty for that. I guess this is kind of a hot button for me. I am sure your friend wants to do the right thing by the Lord as we all do. The best thing is as always to seek the answer in prayer and in Scripture! My blessings to you and I will be in prayer for your family as you seek to do His will. Love and blessings, Lori

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  4. Thanks Lori. I agree. But, can I ask? Where in scripture can we find the answers to these questions? The best I can come up with is that it is a conscience issue? And we are praying, hoping God will shed some light in our hearts on this. Our desire is certainly NOT to cause division or to nit pick. We just want to follow Jesus. xo

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  5. We didn't have a tree growing up. Partially because of the origins of Christmas trees(we attended a very legalistic church), partially because of finances. My parents hung tinsel around the room instead, hanging our ornaments on that. I think I liked the tinsel even better than the hand-me-down tree we eventually got.

    We don't teach about Santa, instead choosing to focus on the miracle of Christ-becomes-flesh. We've had brief discussions over the date of Christmas, making sure the kids know that most likely Christ wasn't born in December. It is important that we celebrate Christ, not that the celebration date is historically accurate. We've also scaled down our gift-giving, choosing to help others around the world, instead of buying more junk. (http://catalogue.iteams.ca/ has some very interesting options-it's also the organization my husband and I are with)

    Honestly, I am so blessed during the Christmas season. Each year I am challenged in my understanding of the Christmas story and grow that much more in my faith. It's also a great time to discuss the Gospel, both with my kids and with my community. We have friends from many different backgrounds who want to know why and how we celebrate Christmas. What better time to talk about what Christ has done for us? :)
    *hugs*

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  6. Amy, just a question out of curiosity. Do you put any weight on tradition within the Church? I ask because you have mentioned several times "where in the Bible"? Which is to some degree a uniquely evangelical question. Other branches of Christianity rely on both church tradition And scripture, so they don't need a specific verse necessarily. I am an evangelical too, albeit a reluctant one, but I often look to Church tradition for insight. I was just curious about where you guys are coming from. :)

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  7. Tonia- an excellent question. I don't take issue with church tradition per se. I just want biblical principles to back up the choices we make. For example, if church tradition lights candles of certain days, I see nothing wrong with doing that, unless the scriptures specifically admonish you not to. {I hope I am making sense.} In working through the Christmas issue, our main task was to determine whether the traditions of the church were acceptable to God. {I think we can both agree that there have been many abuses by the church in regard to tradition, can we not? The reformers spoke out against many of these...} I personally think that the viewpoint that Christians can (and should) redeem, has great merit.

    So, in a nutshell, I am fine with tradition. But if there is a discrepancy, the Bible trumps tradition. Make sense? xo

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  8. The bible-based reason for it cannot be found, but bible-based reasons against it abound.

    You will not miss doing the "holiday"; in fact if you do not keep it, but rather keep the feasts of the Lord as a memorial, and give thanks (which is the offering which still continues where animals were)you will experience blessings of such degrees you will be amazed.

    Secular holidays force us to eat and drink with such as the bible says "with such a one, do not even eat or drink" (an angry person, such as an unsaved relative you are forced to break bread with several times a year on a "holiday." This is the cause of so many family feuds, trying to unite a family under the Lord, on a holiday, and we wonder why it does not work? It is because the Lord is not in it. His Spirit occupies HIS Holy Days, not days we set up.

    We can know when He was born, when shepherds watched their flocks at the fiscal year. That is around mid-September/October, just like it is now. He IS the Reason the the HARVEST seasons.

    After her three month purification time after having a boy baby, according the the commandment, Mary/Miriam went to the temple to DEDICATE Christ, and THIS was during winter. CHANUKAH is that dedication/education (same root word)and matches the same time that Solomon dedicated the temple.

    Furthermore, during this time the nation was delivered politically from Greco-Syria and being forced into idol-worship of their ruler as (false)god whose statue polluted the temple.

    Chanukah is what celebrates Christ as the light of the world, as Christ pointed to Himself as such.

    Therefore, a light or lights by the window during this time is the best way to decorate externally, and being a light to others by pointing to THE LIGHT in the ways the bible teaches, at this time and all biblical seasons, this is your best witness.

    Let others follow their conscience in these matters, but ask them questions so they may realize why they really do these things and they will probably realize they do not have any good reasons, and are not wanting to be "left out" which is not a good reason, when you realize we are only "left out" when we abandon His Word.

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  9. A string or strings of white or colored lights inside or outside the house is wonderful way to express light for the holidays, and love your ideas of showing light and love by being a good neighbor! You are truly a witness.

    Material goods do not matter much, it's true, and if we wait and not try to hurry ahead of God for his gifts, but focus on the Giver, and others, he will give to us through them. How great is God that you are experiencing this and by His grace being made aware of his faithfulness, by the gift of faith and active faith.

    May you grow in the knowledge or understanding of and wisdom/obedience/experience of the faith/faithfulness and grace and love of the Savior.

    God Bless you and your family.



    God Bless!

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