(Have mercy on me, it has been a long time since I have written a long, grown up post so don’t pick on the form but the substance;)
A friend of mine Adam Bernay, who is a messianic rabbi, recently did a post on why we shouldn’t celebrate Christmas (warning, it is on MySpace). I must say that I don’t agree with his main premise (that we shouldn’t celebrate Christmas) at all. He has issue with Christmas in 2 ways and I will address them both. First, Christmas is founded in paganism and not Christianity. The second is that we should celebrate Hanukkah instead.
In dealing with Adam’s first point, I agree that many of our Christmas traditions are derived from pagan celebrations but it doesn’t matter. Now I am very blessed to attend a church with a very wise senior pastor (with his own blog). When I stumbled upon this blog entry I dashed off an email for some references from a sermon Pastor Jan had given on this very subject last Christmas(I think). He pointed me in the direction of Saint Augustine and his concept of Egyptian Gold. Here is a basic summary based on a translation I found, God commanded the Jews to take gold and silver from Egypt when they left. The Jews then turned around and used these materials in the Tabernacle to worship the one true God. All things were God’s to begin with and we can claim them as such.
I feel that as long as our hearts are pure in the worship of Christ that we can claim these traditions (tree, December 25th, etc) as our own. Let us take some of this principle a little farther. The prophesy Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem was fulfilled by the commands for the Roman (heathen government) census. How about the crucification of Christ? It was only through others outward sin (that physically put Christ on the cross) that Christ died for my sin. Does the pagan involvement nullify the good? You could say that since pagans and their beliefs were involved it negates all of the Christianity or Godly effects of these things. But that would mean that we are thinking that there are 2 separate worlds, one for the Christian and one for all others.
Pastor Jan pointed out that this fortress mentality limits God by employing a pagan duality theory. This is the theory that things were created to be inherently evil. The contradicts scripture(Genesis 1:31) blatantly so to believe that you can’t celebrate Christmas without it partaking in the paganism is actually a return to the ancient pagan worldview.
The second issue dealt with celebrating Hanukkah instead. I simply ask why can I only celebrate one of them? Hanukkah is a great holiday that shows God’s love, control and strength. I love it, my husband loves it, my kids love it. But it isn’t a celebration of Christ’s birth. Considering that the birth of Christ is mentioned so many times in scripture, if they were a joint holiday I think we would have noticed in the text.
I leave you with the scripture that brought me peace about these things when I was refusing to call Easter, Easter(and it was one Pastor Jan mentioned too).
Colossians 2:16-18 (New International Version)
16Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. 18Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions.