Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Christmas without Jesus? Blasphemous!

I’ve been vague over the past few days about all the things I’ve been thinking about and reconsidering. I will be brave and talk about this one. I expect criticism, and this I accept, because I do not know the answers and I want to do what is right.

I’ve been starkly aware lately of how unbiblical Christmas is. When did Jesus ever ask us to remember his birthday? When did the Bible ever mandate it? As far as I recall, Jesus only asked us to remember his death through taking the Lord’s Supper. So why do we celebrate Jesus’ birth, and why do we mix it with the unchristian holiday of Christmas (and by unchristian I refer to the material, sensual, Santa Clausy stuff)? Again, I won’t get into the pagan arguments, just as I didn’t when speaking of the Sabbath. But still, the truth remains: it’s not a Biblical holiday.

But this doesn’t make it wrong to celebrate, does it? After all, Independence Day isn’t wrong to celebrate, nor is Thanksgiving or Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and none of those are religious holidays. Secular holidays aren’t sinful, are they?

But I wonder, is it right to celebrate the birth of Jesus alongside one of these holidays?

I mean, particularly, Christmas. Of all the holidays to co-associate with Jesus, the Son of the Living God, this would have to be the worst. Are there any more ridiculous holidays (maybe aside from Halloween) that could be Christianised? Christmas, a time to give and get material gifts, to decorate the home with a fat man in a red suit who will reward your good deeds with an iPod, to tell stories about reindeer that can fly. Also a time of family and love and goodwill and “peace on earth”…

Anyway, I warned you, this is only something I’m thinking about, and I don’t have any concrete ideas yet on the subject. But would it be wrong to stop celebrating Christmas? No, I don’t think so. After all, not Peter, Paul nor John celebrated Jesus’ birth (that we know of). And it really is twisted to try to celebrate both the birth of our Saviour and a secular holiday all about trees and presents and spending extra on marked-up items on the same day.

Gosh, as a side note, I remember how hard it was as a kid to try to make Christmas about Jesus with all those mysterious, colourfully wrapped packages taunting me all month. I would force my mind to think about Jesus, but man, those presents! I hope Mom got me a My Little Pony. Or one of those dolls with the hair that grows. Ooh or a musical jewellery box…

Who am I kidding? I still have to force myself to make Christmas about Jesus.

But is it anyway? Was it ever meant to be? Two questions arise –
1) Is Christmas supposed to be about Jesus? And
2) Is Christmas just a chance for us to enjoy a secular holiday under the pretense of religion? Actually, more questions arise than that.
3) Is it downright wrong to celebrate Jesus birth along with the secular Christmas traditions?
4) Should we stop celebrating Christmas altogether because it is not Biblical?
5a) Or can we celebrate Christmas without celebrating Christ’s birth, making it the same as Thanksgiving or Remembrance Day?
5b) Would that be wrong?
6) Should we celebrate Christmas ONLY as Christ’s birth and do away with the presents and the trees?
7) Are we even supposed to be celebrating Jesus birth at all?

Deep breath. Whew. So many things I don’t know the answer to.

I like Christmas. I like giving presents to people. And even though it may be hard to believe, I spend very little time thinking about what I’m going to get in return. Don’t get me wrong, since I know I’m getting something I will say, “ooh, I’d like that for Christmas!” But in general, I don’t get excited about my presents. I get excited about what I get for my friends and family. I love to find the perfect gift and then see it opened.

I also like decorating. I like the twinkly lights and the shiny baubles and the fake snow. And I like to see wrapped presents all stacked under a ridiculously adorned tree standing right in the middle of an otherwise normal room.

Are these things wrong? Am I just as absorbed with the commercialisation of Christmas like everyone else?

More unanswerable questions. I really don’t know about any of these things.

But one thing I think I’m beginning to feel a bit more strongly is that mixing the above earthly traditions with celebration of a very serious, symbolic moment of the birth of Jesus seems wrong.

Something’s gotta give. Is it Christmas? Or Xmas? Both or neither?

I’m reluctant to give up the gift-giving part of the holiday. I’ll be honest. I love it too much. But most Christians against Christmas believe this is part of the reason the holiday is so wrong. So am I just too caught up with the worldly aspect to give it all up completely?

Funnily, I’ve been asked to talk about why it is so important for Christians that the “Christ” in Christmas remain, and not be crossed out by an X, at a Scripture Union Christmas party during lunch break next week. (The party is cleverly titled “The X-Factor”. Cute.)

Oh, Lord, help me. (Really.)

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