Thursday, December 08, 2005

CHRISTMAS WITH CHRIST

CHRISTMAS WITH CHRIST
By Janice Price


Since I spent a number of years in the Worldwide Church of God, before it changed from a legalistic denomination to one of grace, my perception of Christmas has changed. During those years, I kept the Sabbath and the annual Sabbaths, days that God commanded Israel to observe. Those days set apart the Israelites as God’s chosen people; they were a foreshadow of what (who) was to come – Immanuel (God with us). We know him as Jesus the Christ.

In Deuteronomy 6:20-21, as Moses reviewed the words and commandments of the LORD, he said: “When your son asks you in time to come, saying, ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies, the statutes, and the judgments which the LORD our God has commanded you?’ then you shall say to your son: ‘We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, and the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand.’”

To bring this into the New Covenant, it might read something like, “When your son (or neighbor or a stranger) asks you what is the meaning of Christmas, then you shall answer, ‘We were slaves in the dark kingdom of Satan, and God’s Son was born to lead us out of the darkness into the light.’”

Although “Eph2810” now lives in the United States, she was born and raised in Germany, and her blog at http://eph2810.com contains an interesting post about Christmas. “Growing up in Germany, there was never a question what Weihnachten (Christmas) was about. The celebration of our Redeemer's birth - the birth of Christ. Germans do celebrate St Nicholas on December 6th, but St. Nicholas was/is not Santa Claus.”

How sad for the United States that the meaningful story of the birth of the Christ child has taken second place for generations to the myth of Santa Claus and his pre-UPS delivery service. Spiritual worship at Christmas is being replaced with the generic spirit of “The Holidays.”

Today, stores are stocked with Christmas merchandise before Halloween arrives in October. The same merchants who depend on Christmas sales to put them in the black for the year are now wiping Christmas out of their vocabulary. Does this seem hypocritical to anyone else? It seems to me that they are saying, in effect, “I want you to bless me magnanimously, God, by increasing my income through ‘Happy Holiday’ sales. But I can’t/won’t acknowledge your part in this because I don’t want to offend anyone who doesn’t believe your Son deserves the recognition.”

Personally, I think we should all be more afraid to offend God.

When I was a child, I heard the story of the birth of Jesus, but folks seemed to make more of a fuss about Santa Claus than Christ. I sang the carols, ate the rich foods and enjoyed the family celebration, but, to be honest, Christmas was mainly about the presents. During the years I did not celebrate Christmas, I missed the family gatherings the most. I sent Thanksgiving cards instead of Christmas cards, so family members would know they were not forgotten, but, oh, how I missed sending Christmas cards. Today, I enjoy sending cards, but with a message about Christ.

I have been reading controversial blog and forum discussions on Christmas. Some hold the erroneous belief the day is Holy (as in ordained by God), and the idea of some churches closing on Christmas Sunday this year so staff can spend time with their own families is very controversial. Others think it is a good idea and the time can be well spent being a light to family and neighbors.

In this lifetime, there will always be contention, and any discussion of a religious nature is a popular breeding ground for controversy. It is so easy to lose sight of the real reason for the celebration. If we are going to celebrate the birth of Christ, he should be our main focus. Not trimming the tree, decorating the house, attending parties, giving and receiving gifts, or enjoying holiday food and company. They are the icing on the dessert, not the main course.

The true Spirit of Christmas is not actually dependent on what the stores do or don’t do, or whether the world says, “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays.” If our hearts are set on Jesus alone, and not Jesus and all the trimmings, Christmas will be filled with Christ.

Copyright 2005 Janice Price
www.mercyandpercy.com

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