In the spirit of recycling, I thought I'd dust off a hardcore Christmas rant I put up on my xanga blog two Christmases ago, just as I was preparing to leave for our year long mission trip. It's a good reminder to me to see how much Christmas greed irked me as I prepared to sell my house and car to be a traveling missionary.
Now that I'm back, I don't really know how I feel about Christmas. This year, I just don't feel that 'Christmas-y'. I didn't decorate my house. I hadn't bought many presents (well, until a last-minute mall spree today). In the big scheme of things, there are so many things I'm looking forward to more than gifts (namely, returning this coming year to serve others in New Orleans and Guatemala). I will get to spend some good time with family, which I am looking forward to, but it's definitely been difficult to get a grasp on the true 'reason for the season'.
Perhaps simplification is the key...
"Bah, Humbug", or "Merry Giftmas"?
So there I was, a few days ago, listening to the Staci Orrico Christmas album, when something I heard made me stop in my tracks. In her rendition of "O Come All Ye Faithful", she sings an added line... "Jesus Christ was born on Christmas Day". Sounds religious, right? Well, let’s stop and think.... If we have Christmas to celebrate Jesus’ birth, then obviously he couldn’t be celebrated until after he was born. Additionally, scholars estimate that Jesus was actually born in the fall, not on the December 25th date we hold so sacred. So actually, Dec. 25 was designated the day that we celebrate Jesus, but has nothing to do when he was actually born. Dumb song.
Ok, so it really doesn’t matter what day we celebrate Jesus, as long as we celebrate him, right? Well, yes. But you have to realize that Christmas celebrations are nowhere to be found in scripture. Christmas day is a tradition that wasn't celebrated by Christians until the 4th century, as they attempted to inject Christian meaning into the pagan holiday Saturnalia. We as American Christians have now adopted this time of year to be the ‘season of giving’, a time to spread joy by putting up cheesy decorations and spending money we don’t have to buy people we don’t like items that they don’t need (thank you, Tyler Durden).
Just think about these typical ‘holiday’ thoughts:
*When decorating my house, an 8 foot OC Chopper Santa will look much more festive then a nativity scene.
*I must bake cookies, even though I’m always complaining how I really should lose a few pounds!
*Gotta buy my kids some really cool stuff so they’ll know how much I care. Too bad I’ll be too busy working to see them enjoy it.
*I’m so stressed out. I wish my family wasn’t expecting me to spend the holidays with them.
*You should join me in boycotting this retail establishment because they won’t say "Christmas" in their advertising.
*If I don’t get such-and-such that I really want for Christmas, I’ll just buy it for myself. In fact, I may just hit those post-Thanksgiving sales and buy it anyways.
*I need to get those 200 Christmas cards in the mail, so all these people will know how much I really care (even though I haven’t spoken to them, well, since the last Christmas card I sent them).
How is Jesus possibly glorified by these things? Is this how you would want someone to celebrate your birthday? I think not. Why then, do we show such disregard for the savior of the world? This is such a shame, because there is a real opportunity to celebrate Christ in a spiritually meaningful way. I want to show honor to Christ, but I just don’t think that Christmas as we know it is the way to go.
Perhaps we should stop thinking we’re religious because we give so many nice gifts... wasting money to satisfy greedy selfish desires is not Christlike.
Perhaps, as G-Dub suggests, instead of buying stuff at Christmas, we should sell our own belongings and give the money to the poor.
Perhaps, instead of Christmas, we could celebrate Passover with the Jews, and celebrate the fact that Christ is the lamb of God, who shed His blood to purchase our eternal life.
Luke 12:15 Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."
Matthew 19:21 Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."
James 2:15-16 If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and be filled," and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?
Ok, rant over. I warned you it was hardcore! All that aside, what do YOU do to keep Christmas meaningful and enjoyable?