Keep Happy in the Holidays


This is a re-posting from last year.  Since I have a few new readers, I thought I would share one of my personal favorite posts.

Amy models a Santa apron

I am a BIG fan of this time of year. I love the festivities.  I love the family gatherings, the gathering of friends, exchanging gifts, decorating the house, and singing “fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la.”  Yet, I must admit that I get discouraged.  The holiday season that spans from late November on into January gets to me.  Not really the season as much as all the brouhaha that goes with it, especially  in recent years.  In the past few years, different groups have stepped up their efforts to claim their rights concerning this season.

Over the past few years many suggest that we must decide if we say, “Happy Holidays” or “Merry Christmas.”  This places me in an internal tension.  Personally, I see the entire five weeks from Thanksgiving to New Years as the Holiday Season, so I am content to say “Happy Holidays.”  But now, if I choose those words, I am thought to be opposed to Christ.  I am NOT opposed to Christ; I am a follower, a disciple, a Christian first and foremost, so I say “Merry Christmas.”  But, now that statement communicates my acceptance that December 25 is the day of Christ birth and that I celebrate it as such.  If I say “Merry Christmas” do I need to put up sign’s in my yard that say, “Happy Birthday, Jesus,” “Jesus is the Reason for the Season,” or “Don’t X Christ out of Christmas?” I have issues with each of those statements: 1) December 25 is most likely not the date of Christ’s birth.  Biblical and extra-biblical evidence supports a late spring or summer birth.  2) Jesus is the reason for all of life, everyday, and not just one particular month.  Truth be told, Paul warns against observing holy days (holidays) in Gal 4:10-11, “You are observing special   days and months and seasons and years! I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.” 3) X-mas does not X out Christ.  “X” is the first letter (chi – ‘ki’) in the Greek word Xristos (Christos) or Christ.  X-mas is shorthand for Christmas.

I return to my internal conflict, “What do I do?” There are at least four possible ways we as Christians can approach this season.

  1. Object to Christmas entirely.  Do not give gifts, put up trees, sing seasonal songs, have gatherings of family or friends, and proclaim all that do are pagans.
  2. Celebrate Christmas as a Religious Holiday. Put up a tree, sing carols, put out a “nativity scene,” have special programs at ‘church,’ and keep “Christ in Christmas.”
  3. Celebrate Christmas as a Family Holiday. Get together with friends and family and enjoy each other’s company.  Enjoy giving gifts and singing seasonal songs about reindeer and jolly ol’ elves.
  4. Celebrate as Family and use the Opportunity of the Season to Teach the Truth about Jesus and Salvation.  Many people during this time of year think more about God than any other five week period, so redeem the time.

Which approach is the right one?

The first is just too negative. Such an anti-social mentality cannot have a positive influence on the world.  Such an attitude creates too much distance and disdain.  I cannot in clear conscience recommend the first.

The second is a sell-out.  To go all the way to accepting this season as a celebration of Christ’s birth and promoting it as such is selling a lie.  Such undermines the integrity of true faith.  I cannot in clear conscience recommend the second.

The third is much better.  I can recommend celebrating with family and friends.  Using the opportunity our nation and world provides to spend time with those that are important to us and to demonstrate our love for them. Yet is does this option go far enough?

The fourth is best.  The fourth has all the good attributes of the third and adds to them a reminder that we (as followers of Christ) have the responsibility to spread the gospel in season and out of season.  We talk a lot about speaking out of season, lets not forget to speak in season (and with seasoning – cf. Col 4:6) as well.

Hap-Mer-py-ry Holi-Christ-days-mas!  And a Happy New Year to boot!

- Scott

21 Comments

Filed under Christ, Christian living, holidays. Christmas

21 responses to “Keep Happy in the Holidays

  1. Rhonda Smith

    Oh, my, do we have a Model!? Love the picture….Love the pose by Mrs. Amy!!

  2. Alley Taylor

    Just saw where you have a blog, and I love this one!!

  3. Hi Scott,

    Your post deals with private faith, but where does the corporate “faith” of an individual congregation fit into the picture?

    Is there room for a local congregation to have a unity of mind on what to do with the season and does it matter if that congregation differs from another?

    . . . also, just curious on “the lie” part of option 2. Is the objection there only in regard to us not getting the anniversary date just right?

    Would love to get your thoughts on a post distinguishing the Christian “faith” from the Christian “religion.” It’s uses Easter to illustrate, but the same points apply to Christmas.

    See http://historeo.com/web/?p=1119

    Thanks for the post!

    billb

    • Alamobill. . . I like your moniker. Yes, my post has much to say about individual faith. Congregations are made up of individual Christians and that dynamic can be quite troubling at times. Wise church leaders will consider the impact decisions will have on the congregation as a whole and should make expedient choices for the individual autonomous church family. Where I work and worship, we may not put up trees or poinsettias in the auditorium, but we have Christmas parties for the children and one big one for the whole congregation. Through the efforts of a business one of our deacons owns, we participate in a local Christmas parade and give out gifts including bicycles to children on the parade route. Another local church does practically nothing and a third one puts up decorations at the building. As each individual must decide for themselves so must assemblies of these individuals. We cannot (should not) condemn sister congregations for different scriptural choices.

      As far as the lie, I have associations with people who are antagonistic toward Christianity. They look for inconsistencies like the connection of Christmas to Winter Festivals and the made up date for Christ’s birth to back up their claims for Christianity being a false religion like so many others. I will take tame to look at yr link later. Thanks for reading and taking the time to moment.

  4. Hi again Scott,

    One other quick question (and I hope you don’t think I’m picking at you).

    Seems to me we do ourselves and others damage by reducing settled convictions of local communities of faith to “expediencies.”

    My point is that local traditions have a moral dimension that the word “expediency” misses altogether.

    Thoughts?

    Peace,

    billb

    http://historeo.com

    • I think I understand what you are saying with moral dimension. I think local decisions are based on the make-up of the congregation and their background morally or religiously. The dangers are when individuals judge in the place of God in condemning others who we disagree with. Is this what you are saying?

  5. Yes, we can easily be in danger of “judging another man’s servant.”

    This would be especially true on use of baptism, for example, to deny people their claim to a Christian identity.

    See post http://historeo.com/web/?p=1752

    Thanks!

    billb

    • Bill,

      I read through your blog link. There is much I agree with. I teach immersion for the remission of sins and to receive the Holy Spirit. I teach immersion as the fulfillment of faithful obedience in which we obey the gospel (Death, Burial, and Resurrection of Christ) and put on Christ. I believe that only those in Christ who have the Spirit are children of God. That said, I try not to be judgmental of others who disagree. You will not hear me preach that “such and such” a group is going to hell. You will not hear me say in a class setting that “they” are wrong and I am right. You will hear me say, “This is what Paul (Peter, Jesus, etc.) says . . . ” You will hear me emphasize that God’s Word is the standard and we will all be accountable for how we live in the body. There are lot of ‘issues’ that I am quite willing to let God sort out on the day of Judgment. I simply know that I must honestly live as I learn from Him, changing where He longs for me to change, and teaching others what I learn. Much like Ezra who “set his heart to know God’s will, to do it and to teach it.”

      May I boast, not in my ability to obey, but in the Grace of God in Christ Jesus ( http://scottmccown.wordpress.com/2011/12/06/top-ten-passages-on-gods-grace-2/ )

      Thanks for reading and for writing a blog that challenges me to think.

  6. Ohhaithere

    Christmas is a cluster of Pagan holidays, that was changed to Sol Invictus when the Roman empire took. It’s no coincidence that both Sol Invictus, and Christmas share December 25′th as their official date.

    The reason they share the date is that when the Catholic church spread its religious crusading plague and took over Europe they stole a page from the Romans and changed the holidays to “Christmas” in order to gain converts. Even though Christians acknowledge that Jesus was not born on December 25′th they try to cover up the fact.

    Christians hope by ignoring Christmas’s origins, they can some how change history. I think the funniest part is that Christians even tried banning Christmas altogether in the 1600′s because of all of the pagan aspects it still retains. LOLOLOL.

    Christmas trees, holly, wreaths, mistletoe… all of it is whats managed to survive from pre-Christian religions. And remember, this stuff survived through eras where Christians were burning people at the stake, stripping the flesh off their bodies while they still lived, and torturing them worse than any guy on a cross ever was. The stakes were pretty high for holding on to pagan ways. Pretty amazing that any of it managed to survive really…

    So how about instead of getting an attitude over who owns Christmas, try to realize that nobody owns it and just let everyone be included. No matter how much FAKE stuff Christians come up with to cover-up existing holiday decor and treats (The candy cane story you guys came up with? Not cool. Leave candy canes alone.) People are going to still celebrate non-Jesus things. Sorry, Thats life. Deal with it.

    • Did you actually read what I wrote. I DO NOT buy into the story that Jesus was born on Dec 25. I DO NOT appreciate all the stories and traditions that people invented. I DO understand the origin of Christmas through Paganism and Roman Catholicism. Please go back and read my blog post.

  7. Well said! Thanks for sharing it with my readers, too.

  8. M Kennedy

    This comes up everytime I open FB…how do it get it off? I don’t find an unsubscribe choice.

    • I am not sure why this is popping up on FB for you. I did not link it or set it up to do that. It probably has to do with a Facebook setting on your end. I apologize for any inconvenience this causes you.

  9. Pingback: Top Posts of 2011 « The Morning Drive

  10. Pingback: Christmas – What should I do as a Christian? | Central Haywood Church of Christ

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