Christmas (As We Celebrate It) Is Not In The Bible
©2007 Lisa Tyler
Wherever stress and anxiety is, God is not being honored
My heart is so burdened this month as I see how many people are suffering over a fear of lack of presents and of other necessary things. So many are struggling to just keep their lights on, and I even know two families who have been evicted this week.
Christmas with itís tradition of buying presents, the stress, the bills, school being out, guests coming to the house, etc., contributes to more depression, suicides, divorces, and debt than any other time of year. Why do we do this to ourselves?
I think we want the kind of Christmas that our parents provided, with the homemade memories and the expectations of goodies and family intimacy. The problem may be that we no longer have those kinds of homes. Few women are stay at home moms, and those who are, may not be able to create the atmosphere of the last generationís lifestyle.
A New Idea
Iím sending this to give your heart some peace, and to create some new ideas in your head. You have more power and control in this area than you think, and God is on your side! You wonít be punished if you donít manage a picture perfect holiday, and if you feel that you havenít sufficiently put Jesus into the Santa Claus suit. Rest, relax and consider thisÖ.
Christmas as we know it, is not in the Bible
Iíll bet Iíve got your attention with that statement. Itís true. I saw a sign outside of a church that said, ďLetís put Christ back into ChristmasĒ.
The truth is Jesus has nothing to do with Christmas. He never belonged in that mess of debt and misery. We keep trying to inject Him into our rush and shopping and make a connection between that glorious Christmas tree and the Glorious Birth of Christ. No wonder weíre confused and empty, wondering where the joy went.
The record of Jesusí birth is in the Bible and weíre glad that He came to earth, but God left out the mention of what day He was born. (Iíve actually heard He was born in the summer, but I canít prove that.) None of the apostles or early church members are mentioned as observing Christmas. They did their best to live as Jesus lived.
At this time of year, every church replays the story of the angel visiting Mary and the three wise men who brought the baby Jesus gifts. Itís a beautiful account of Jesusí birth, but it has little parallel with our holiday traditions today.
The wise men brought gifts of money and precious materials that Jesusí family could sell and use to escape into Egypt when the king sent soldiers to try to kill Him. It was based on Who He was and what He would need. Not because it was socially acceptable. The shepherds who came to see the baby didnít bring gifts, they observed and praised God.
Some say our Christmas holiday began when the official, organized Church, (our Catholic Church now), added a Christmas celebration to replace a pagan celebration of Winter Solstice. It doesnít matter how it got started, or how long ago, one thing is certain. It does NOTHING to help us be better Christians or give God glory.
Christmas today has been turned into a commercial investment for the system of money and debt that Satan has set up on earth to destroy what God loves. You and me.
I have nothing against celebrating Christmas; my family has always done the Christmas ďthingĒ. Iím not a religious fanatic, but if we celebrate anything, we really SHOULD understand what weíre honoring and make sure we agree with it completely.
We talk about ďChristmasĒ coming up as if it were the same as death and taxes, something that canít be avoided.
Good news dear readers! Christmas is NOT one of those unavoidable events that you have to pay tribute to.
What is a holiday?
Well, two out of three isnít bad. Or is it?
Christmas. Celebrated with a tree and decorations, lights and everything pretty. Check! Not too difficult usually, but causes financial stress to buy all the decorations and then may leave you disappointed because even with pretty flashing lights in your living room, youíre still not happy.
Presents. How to afford them, what to buy that will please the recipient, and all the guilt and anger that goes with trying to please others and have your efforts appreciated. Check! Been there, done that. Every year. Will it ever succeed?
Whatever happened to the early years of American Christmas, when families made small token Christmas gifts throughout the year as crafts?
Children might receive ONE item given quietly perhaps on Christmas Eve when the family sat down to their supper and reflected on another year together and what God had brought into their lives this year. That item was not originally a store bought toy or expensive thing. It was something that was given from the heart, perhaps hand made.
Father may have whittled a flute from a piece of wood. Mother might have crafted a doll from cornhusks or scraps of cloth if they could be spared. Maybe it was a paper boat or a sonís first rifle.
I imagine that the moment a son got his own gun was equal to being called a man, and it had deep meaning. The gun was not a toy, or something to flash around in a display of testosterone. It meant the child now shared in the responsibility of hunting for food, and protecting the livestock. It wasnít a childís moment at all, but the passing of responsibility from father to son, and a moment of trust.
For a woman, it would be a different item, perhaps a new apron. Something that would be used in the performance of her duties, although less dramatic, and girls took on the household at a very early age. (Note: it didnít hurt them at all, in fact it taught them their importance to the familyís staying alive.)
After thinking about those earlier Christmases, Iím even more aware of how phony and artificial our attempts at making family memories are. Have Americans totally lost touch with what it means to be alive?
Can we get back to living meaningfully, sensibly, and responsibly?
YES! If youíre reading this, then you obviously havenít lost everything! Youíre searching for the answers and you WILL find them!
A New Beginning
The 2008 calendars are hot off the presses and youíve probably already picked up one at the local drug store or your loan company.
You can pick any day on the calendar and decide to make a holiday, and you can scratch any day OFF the calendar and refuse to have a holiday at that time.
You can make memories with your family EVERY day, (and you do). You can EVEN have joy, if you leave out the stress.
Now if you only pick a different day of the month and declare for your family that THIS new day is now Christmas, unless you change your behavior, youíve only shifted the stress and pain to a different day.
Why not eliminate it altogether? In fact, why not create all your holidays with some deeper personal meaning?
Decide what is important to you and your family, and make up the new holiday schedule along lines of personal dates to remember.
We already have birthdays and anniversaries, why not make use of them in a new way?
Why not call together a gathering of the closest family and have everyone tell something they love about the person who is having the birthday? Or tell a story of a happy memory they have of that person. Or step up and tell the world some talents and strengths this person has and what they may be able to accomplish with that ability.
Hereís a challenge: every family member promise a certain kind of help or guidance, or skills to be taught to the birthday person.
For an anniversary, why not tell each other what it was that attracted you to your mate, and all the happiest memories you have of your time together. Strengthen bonds as you set aside a day to do something for each other.
Holidays donít have to be about money
Neither do birthdays and anniversaries, in fact, the best things you can do for someone donít come from a store and canít be wrapped in a box.
Birthdays donít have to ďlookĒ like birthday parties with cakes and candles. Anniversaries donít have to involve stopping at the florist or buying a gift. In fact, if you honored your spouse EVERY day, you wouldnít have to worry about having an anniversary at all.
We seem to have substituted money and ďprettyĒ purchases like that decorated birthday cake, for a meaningful marking of time or for investing our time in the growth of that person.
Instead of a birthday party, why not spend an entire day with your child, doing the things they love to do, OR just listening to what is important to them, sharing their thoughts and learning what they love.
If weíre going to talk about holidays, thereís still one thing weíre leaving out that is more important than any of these reasons to celebrate. The one TRUE reason to set aside a day and stop your ordinary chores, is to acknowledge God and give Him honor.
We thought we were doing that by going to church on Sundays, but by attending big church buildings and dressing up in our church clothes, stressing to afford to go out to eat afterwards, or perform chores in the church services that day, weíve put the stress right back into the day and taken God out of it. (If youíve ever tried to get children ready for church, you know what I mean.)
Wherever stress and anxiety is, God is not honored
Look at the way God Himself set up the Sabbath. He said you will do NO work that day. In another scripture, not necessarily for the Sabbath, He said come into His gates with thanksgiving and praise; worship Him with songs and music. King David danced.
Sometimes worshipping God is a personal thing, something you just do without telling your family, without trying to get them all to go along with you. Eliminate the stress and get away from people, go into your closet or out into nature and spend time with Him.
At other times, lead your family into worship and cease all work and ordinary play. It could be a sacrifice of leaving a video game machine off for an afternoon, or turning off the telephone and computer, so that you can focus your thoughts on reading the Bible together or alone. Or singing praises to God.
It doesnít matter which day you stop your work and acknowledge God, the Bible says it would be good if mankind honored EVERY day to the Lord, but make sure you have a day of rest regularly. (Please donít think I am telling you to add one more stress to your life. Do what you can, from your heart, and trust God to lead you into His will when youíre able.)
Remember God regularly. Record all the blessings Heís done for your family, and special rescues and healings, in a book of remembrance. This will build your faith, be something you can do special on your Sabbath, and give Him thanks for what Heís done in your life.
It also creates new memories with your family and makes sure the children see you honoring God.
They will act out in their adult lives WHATEVER they see you do in yours. Scary thought, isnít it?
If you like making scrapbooks, how about creating a hand made book with a 3 ring binder or some way that you can add in extra sheets of paper as necessary. Put some time and love into decorating the outside, but most importantly, put the time and effort into writing the blessings youíve received into the inside.
Let your children help in the decorating and the writing. Ask for their input about what they feel God did for THEM that week. Add to the book on your Sabbath holiday.
Husbands, be there for the family in this most important activity, showing your respect to God. Mothers, try your best to block out the distractions and household chores, the desire to escape into your favorite activity, and just spend time with the family for as long as it lasts. Donít stress if itís short periods of time and then everyone runs off again.
Children, be respectful, but show your parents how to have fun again, and put the meaning back into your lives.
God bless you all!
Jesus, precious Lord and dearest friend,
Open our eyes to the truths weíve been unable to see before. Show us how simple and gentle Your path is and how we could get there. Draw us into Your innermost secret place, where the breath of God and the fire of the Holy Spirit burn away the dross and the falsehoods of our lives, revealing the precious link to You.
We are Your children, we carry the Fatherís Holy DNA, as He breathed into Adam and the man of clay became a living being in Your image.
We honor You and we honor the ďYouĒ that is in us, but Lord help us to learn to worship and please you with faith.
Keep us safe at this time and always. We rest in Your abundance, although we donít see it. We rest content in Your provisions, although we may not feel them. Mankind has spent 2000 years of wandering away from You into blindness, so it may take more than the moment of a prayer to be able to see the spiritual gifts You have set aside for each of us. Help us to know they are there, and YOU are there, beside us, in us and holding us up throughout whatever weíre going through today.
No weapon formed against us shall prosper, and with you FOR us, Lord, there is NO ONE strong enough to be against us and prevail. Greater is the Lord in us, than the enemy who is in or of the world! Praise Your Holy Name!
In Your Name We Rest Blessed and Safe. Amen.
© 2007 Lisa Tyler