Dec 14, 2009

Call it Christmas

Recently I was having an email discussion with another bloggy friend and in one of her emails she mentioned that she had written a post about "Keeping Christ in Christmas" and someone had left a comment that she wasn't quite sure how to respond to and asked for my thoughts. I read the comment, prayed about it, and asked her permission to respond in her comments section, which she granted.

From this comment my impression of this commenter was that she was a thinker and didn't base her views on feeling but put thought into why she held the views that she held. I also deduced that if she put this much effort into researching it out, there was a chance that she was sincerely looking for the truth of the matter. I visited her blog and confirmed that she was a deep thinker and I also discovered that she was not a Christian. I asked God to give me the words as I was writing the response.

Here is the comment.

Forgive me for being blunt, but if we're going to discuss the true meaning of Christmas, it doesn't necessarily trace back to remembrance of Jesus Christ, either.

Simply put, no one knows the day that Christ was born - from biblical descriptions historians are led to believe that he may have been born sometime in September (approximately 6 months after passover).

Why do people celebrate his birthday has having been December 25th? The answer lies in the fact that the origins of Christmas came from several pagan celebrations that occurred at this time.

Babylonians participated in the Feast of the Son of Isis on Dec. 25th, while Romans celebrated the Winter Solstice (complete with performers who traveled house to house entertaining neighbors - this is the origin of caroling) December through January. In Northern Europe many other traditions that are now considered part of Christian worship were begun long before the participants ever even heard of Christ.

In the year 350, Pope Julius I declared that Christ's birthday would be celebrated on December 25th. Essentially it would make converting pagans to Christianity easier because at least then their feasts and celebrations would not be taken from them. Essentially, the Christmas we celebrate now was good strategizing on behalf of someone who wanted to gain more followers for his religion.

Why, then, would it be a bad thing for the Christmas season to become inclusive of other holidays (Ramadan, Kwanzaa, etc.) when the origins of Christmas itself were to more or less market Christ at around the same time that other festivities were taking place?

What exactly is wrong with saying "Happy Holidays" to include all the possible celebrations people may be participating in? The United States may proclaim itself to mainly be a Christian country, but Christianity is by no means the only religion here - so why is it fair, then, to act as though yours is the only celebration that should be observed?

I'm honestly just curious and hope that I haven't presented myself in a disrespectful or inflammatory way.

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My prayerful response.

Dear XXX - You are correct that we don't know the exact day that Christ was born. But does that mean we shouldn't celebrate His birth? Not at all. I have known people who did not know the day they were born so a day was chosen to celebrate their birth each year. They call it their birthday. The date is inconsequential. It's the celebration that is important. It's the celebration of a person. No matter how the date was chosen it's still the celebration of that person's birth and all that they mean to us. How much more would we hold that celebration dear when it is the Birth of Christ. The One and only True God. The Only God who Loves us so much that He chose to be born of a woman and take on the flesh of man so that He could save us from the consequences of sin. CHRISTmas is about the celebration of Christ's birth. That is why is it is called CHRISTmas.

When muslims celebrate Ramadan they don't call it Christmas and they don't say Happy Holidays. When Jews celebrate Hanukkah they don't say Happy Holidays, they say Happy Hanukkah. When Africans celebrate Kwanzaa they don't say Happy Holidays, they say Happy Kwanzaa. The same is true of any celebration. If you are celebrating Christmas then you should say Merry Christmas. If you are celebrating something else then you should say what it is. Christians aren't telling others not to call their celebrations what they are. We only want to keep our celebration what it is and we only ask for that same respect in return.

When a person is celebrating something it is for a reason. There is specific purpose and meaning in it. It is not just a generic day to go have fun for whatever reason you want. Celebrations are by their very nature focused on something. When you celebrate your children's birthdays, are you not celebrating their very lives? Would you want other people who don't know and love your child to tell you that you can't make it about him or her because that isn't inclusive? No, you would not and you should not. That would simply turn it into just another day and NOT the celebration of your child's birth. If we are going to respect all peoples celebrations then we should truly respect ALL of them and call them what they are.

There is so much more I could say but I will end here. I sincerely appreciate that you asked and expressed your views. My relationship with Christ began by my asking God to show me if He was real and by explaining my perspective to Him (as if He didn't already know). He didn't take offense, He answered because He LOVES HIS CREATION. I hope that you know that my answer is also not meant to offend, only to give an answer for what you are asking. I truly hope that you will also choose to take your questions to God and seek out His Truth in all matters.

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I left a nice comment on this person's blog and let her know that I had responded to her question. I don't know if she ever read the response because she did not reply. But likely she did read it, it's human nature to wonder, and seeds of thought were planted in her mind. The results are in God's hands. It is His job to tend to the seeds, it is ours to plant them.

The reason that I'm posting this is because this is one portion of the culture that we need to change, the removal of Christ from Christmas. Please notice that in my response I did not dispute any of her well researched points. Whether or not they are true is irrelevant. My purpose was to show that Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ and that means everything to Christians. If we take Christ out of Christmas then you might as well call it something else because it is something else.

Now look back at my last two posts about where the culture change begins. It begins with Christians. I will discuss this more in an upcoming post.

"if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land." 2 Chronicles 7:14 (emphasis mine)

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"A girl needs to be so lost in God, that the guy is going to have to seek HIM to find her!" ...Maya Angelou

13 comments:

Irritable Mother said...

This was a great response, Edie. And I agree with you - I think she probably did come and read your response. Because we are curious creatures!
And now it's in God's hands.
How wonderful that you were able to be His instrument!
Father in heaven, You know the woman who wrote that comment. You know everything about her and You love her, because You created her.
I thank You that You spoke through Edie to her, responding to her questions, caring for her heart. And I pray that You will tend to that seed which was planted. Please bring Edie's words to this woman's mind again and again. Let her know that You are pursuing her because of Your great love through Jesus Christ.
Yes, Lord! May this December 25 be the first CHRISTmas this woman truly CELEBRATES.
I'm asking it in the wonderful, powerful, beautiful, matchless Name of JESUS.
Amen and amen!

Constance said...

Hi,
My name is Connie and a "sister" at our blog suggested the following to me:

"If you would like a prayer button for Chelsea for your blog and for others to be able to post on their blogs, contact Edie at http://richgifts.blogspot.com
Edie will make one for any urgent prayer request. It is a ministry. Just tell her that I (andrea) told you to ask. She is a precious lady who believes strongly in the power of prayer.
Blessings, andrea"

My daughter's best friend (Chelsey) has a *10 month old daughter, KIERSTEN who has been in the hospital since WED having seizures. I can give you more information if you would like to e-mail me at:
edelweisstexas1@aol.com

I don't know if you're on Face Book but a group has formed there to pray for baby Kiersten and her family.
Thanks,
Connie Hopkins

FB Link:
http://www.facebook.com/#/group.php?gid=369129810362&ref=mf

B His Girl said...

Edie, I love that you wanted to share with this person. I pray God will open her eyes to His son Jesus. He loves her. Merry Christmas. Your friend, B

Andrea said...

Edie,
You did an awesome job explaining it. I have friends from all faiths and clearly there are many times we do NOT agree. We agree to disagree, but are respectful of each others beliefs. My friends are NOT offended when I speak of Jesus or say Merry Christmas, nor am I offended when they speak in their faith language. I am able to ask them questions about their faith and they are able to ask me questions. There is NO threat or preachiness about our conversations. I am a better witness by handling myself in this manner. You handled yourself respectfully, too. I appreciate that about your response. By handling yourself respectfully you are living out the life of CHRIST in you!
Blessings, hugs, and prayers, andrea

2Thinks said...

I admit to understanding what the original questioner was saying. Historically, I believe she is correct.

I know Christians who do not celebrate Christmas as the birth of Christ, for this very reason, but instead treat the holiday sort of like Thanksgiving- a celebration that is customary to American culture. These friends exchange gifts and celebrate Christmas by gathering with family over a feast. These believers say: show me in the Bible where God instructs us to actually celebrate Christ's birth on a certain day w/feasting and gift exchange etc.? It's a good question. You can find references to God's people celebrating Passover, participating in joyous celebration over baptisms and weddings- but celebrating the birth of Christ, formally- annually...

I do think that over the years, the Christian church has taken this pagan holiday and attempted to redeem it, so to speak, by making it a celebration day to honor Christ's birth. When I get to heaven, I'm going to ask God what he thinks about that. In the meantime, we celebrate it as such ourselves.

In truth, every day should be a day we remember Christ's birth and moreover, his death and ressurection- sealing the deal for eternity to all who call him Lord.

It isn't overkill to think on and give thanks each day for this gift of his birth, death and ressurection, not in this world where we are bombarded moment by moment with messages that teach everything contrary to what God tells us in his word. We need to refocus on it- probably more than once a day, in fact.

These are the hard questions. Indeed. Good for you, Edie, for taking it on.

God's girl said...

Beautifully written with grace...

Father God, we lift this woman up to You and we pray that YOU would ignite her heart with love! It is Your love that draws us closer to You. We pray blessing and Truth over her, as well as an awakening of her soul. Thank You, Lord, for the people You place in our paths to challenge us on "Why do we believe what we believe?" I thank You for this woman Edie came across! You totally desire a relationship with her and love her just as much as You do love those who have chosen to follow You! Help her to see with new eyes!

Thank You for Edie, for her blog, for her ministry, and for the heart YOU have given her.

In Jesus' precious name, Amen

From the Heart said...

I totally agree with the prayers that have been prayed. God loves everyone and as you said He sent His Son to die on Calvary that we might have eternal life by acceting Him as our Lord and Savior. You gave a wonderful answer to this woman's question. You have been blessed with many gifts by the Father. To God be the Glory.
Merry CHRISTmas

RCUBEs said...

You prayed before answering and that's what we must do before we venture in anything. If led by the Spirit, what can go wrong? By His grace, you answered her questions well and I pray that her curiosity was quenched by the truth and the only truth that comes from knowing our Savior.
Like what Peter said, "we must be ready to explain if we are asked about our Christian hope. But we must do it in a gentle and respectful way." [1Peter 3:15-16].
You did an awesome job of doing just that for the Lord's glory. Blessings to you.d

RCUBEs said...

sorry for the typo 'd'...that was the start of the code :)

Heart2Heart said...

Edie,

What a great response for so many that would seek to remove Christ from Christmas, for us Christians it would hold the same meaning for the celebration of Jesus Christ's birthday! I am never offended if someone wishes me a Happy Kwanzaa or even a Happy Hanukkah. I simply smile and return the greetings!

Love and Hugs ~ Kat

An Imperfect Perfection said...

Edie....that was fabulous ...and then some.

Lea said...

That was absolutely beautifully written my dear friend! Merry CHRISTMAS!!!

My ADHD Me said...

I have often wondered about how to answer that question. I don't think anyone could have put it more clearly. This was outstanding.

What a strange look we would get if when we went to see a friend on her child's birthday, we smiled and said "Happy Holidays!"

Merry Christmas to you my very dear friend!