Wednesday, November 16, 2005

It's Holiday Time: Let's put Christ back in our lives!

Jesus said in John 8 that "the truth will set you free." He was talking about two things. First he was talking about obeying his teachings (the truth) and secondly being free (from sin). He taught that one can't be free from sin unless he has the truth. Truth is of utmost importance. Incidently, he said that he himself was the way, the TRUTH and the life. No one goes to the Father except through him.

Truth is defined as "that which is factual". We spend so much time in the church world preparing teachings based on "truth". We have pastors that spend hours studying God's word to share the "truth". We really do want people to know the truth, the facts of the faith, in order that they be free. It's really a noble cause. It's OK. It's good.

But now it's holiday time and I usually offend someone inadvertently with, you guessed it, the truth. You see, when I sign Christmas cards and letters, emails etc., sometimes for the sake of brevity I write "Merry Xmas". "Religious" people go absolutley postal on me for taking "Christ out of Christmas". I'm not going to go into a long teaching (this is only a blog). I'm simply going to list the facts around Christmas. The facts ma'am, just the facts! If truth is "that which is factual" then I hope this truth can set us all free from religious bodages and expectations that are just not true.

The Facts on Christmas

- The disciples and believers of the Early Church never celebrated Christmas.
- Jesus was not born on December 25.
- The Church clergy chose December 25 to compete with rival Roman pagan holidays.
- Massachusetts law banned the celebration of Christmas in colonial times.
- Jesus was not an infant in a manger when the magi arrived to see him.
- The Bible never says there were "three" wise men.
- The tradition of "kissing under the mistletoe" is from ancient Druid and Scandinavian sexual fertility rites. Slow down! No putting mistletoe's not Christmas yet.
- "Xmas" is not omitting Christ from Christmas as early Christians used the Greek letter "X" (first letter of Christ = Xristos) to refer to Jesus in shorthand.
- Giving gifts was a Roman traditon of giving small tokens for good luck to celebrate the winter festivals. Eventually these gifts became more extravagant and costly.
- The little Lord Jesus plenty of crying he made. The Christmas carol "Away in a Manger" can't negate the humanity of the infant Jesus. I have two kids. When they were born, they cried. They're 4 and 7 now. They still cry.

So there you have it. The truth. So what is a person to do? I'm not a prude. I'm not a stiff. I'll have my Christmas tree and share my gifts and eat lots of food with family and friends. Why? Because it's more blessed to give than to receive. It's good to enjoy the fruit of our labor. It's good to be benevolent to those in need, especially to those of the household of faith.

The fact is that there are all kinds of occasions like Christmas that are not Christian in their genesis but we participate in. New Year's Eve, birthdays, Halloween or Harvest parties and one of my personal favorites...SUPERBOWL SUNDAY (Go Patriots!)! These are good. They are fun. The Bible teaches "whatsoever things are good, pure...if there be any virtue, if there be any praise, think on these things." Things that bring joy to us and others should be on our list of things to do.

So instead of making Christmas an idol that is polished off once a year and injected into our lives for a half a week to placate the religious expectation we've been trained to have, let's look at the facts and realize that this is a great reason to celebrate and gather with joy. But when it comes to Jesus, let's not trivialize him with things that aren't true. Let's put him back in our lives on a daily basis for he is the Way the Truth and the Life and no one goes to the Father except through him.

It's coming very soon...

Merry Xmas everyone!

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