This Isn’t Christmas!!! (Part 3)
“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name Jesus.”
Many of us have heard this story dozens of time either on television, radio and especially at church but some of us still miss the point. What is the real meaning of Christmas? What has nothing to do with Christmas? Why do we do what we do during this holiday season? Join us as we explore the meaning of Christmas in our new series “This Isn’t Christmas.”
III. Setting Up Holiday Decorations
Before we begin to address the holiday embellishments and their purpose, let’s talk about the history of Christmas decorations.
“A Christmas decoration is any of several types of ornamentation used at Christmas time. The traditional colours of Christmas are pine green (evergreen), snow white, and heart red. Blue and white are often used to represent winter, or sometimes Hanukkah, which occurs around the same time. Gold and silver are also very common, as are just about any other metallic colours. Typical images on Christmas decorations include Baby Jesus, Father Christmas, Santa Claus, and the star of Bethlehem. Typical winter icons include snowflakes, snowmen, icicles, and even penguins and polar bears.
In many countries, such as Sweden, people start to set up their Advent and Christmas decorations on the first day of Advent. Liturgically, this is done in some parishes through a Hanging of the Greens ceremony. In the Western Christian world, the two traditional days when Christmas decorations are removed are Twelfth Night and if they are not taken down on that day, Candlemas, the latter of which ends the Christmas-Epiphany season in some denominations. Leaving the decorations up beyond Candlemas is historically considered to be inauspicious.
The Christmas tree is sometimes explained as a Christianization of pagan tradition and ritual surrounding the winter solstice, which included the use of evergreen boughs, and an adaptation of pagan tree worship. The English-language phrase “Christmas tree” is first recorded in 1835 and represents an importation from the German language. The modern Christmas tree tradition, though, is believed to have begun in Germany in the 18th century though many argue that Martin Luther began the tradition in the 16th century. From Germany the custom was introduced to England, first via Queen Charlotte, wife of George III, and then more successfully by Prince Albert during the early reign of Queen Victoria. The influential 1840s image of the Queen’s decorated evergreen was republished in the U.S, and as the first widely circulated picture of a decorated Christmas tree in America, the custom there spread. Christmas trees may be decorated with lights and ornaments.”
So we see that these holiday embellishments do have a historical significance. Unfortunately, most of its origins are from pagan origins. So why do we set up these things if there are from pagan origins?
- “it’s what we always have done”
- “everyone is doing it and we don’t want to seem out of the holiday spirit”
- “it brings Christmas joy”
Looking back at these answers, we see the real priority of most Americans.
A. “it’s what we always have done”
Tradition is what was one of the primary reasons that the Pharisees killed Jesus. Jesus told them in Mark 7:9 “And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.” I heard a story from a family that actually fit the mold of tradition.
“A young girl was watching her mother bake a ham for a family gathering and noticed her mom cutting off the ends before placing it in the oven.
“Mom, why do you cut the ends off before baking the ham?” she asked.
“Hmmm…I think it helps soak up the juices while it’s baking. I’m actually not sure, though. That’s just the way your grandma always did it, so I’ve just always cut them off. Why don’t you call grandma and ask her?”
So, the little girl phoned her grandma and asked “Grandma, mom is making a ham and cut off the ends before placing it in the oven. She said that it’s probably to help soak up the juices but wasn’t sure. She said you’d know because she learned how to cook from you.”
“That’s true. I do cut off the ends of the ham before baking. But I’m actually not sure why either. I learned how to cook from my mom. You should ask her.”
So, the inquisitive little girl called her great grandmother and asked “Great grandma, mom and grandma said they learned how to cook a ham from watching you. Do you cut off the ends of the ham to help it soak up the juices?”
The great grandmother chuckled. “Oh, no sweetie. I just never had a pan big enough to hold a whole ham, so I always had to cut off the ends to make it fit.”
Sometimes, we fall into the trap of doing things without seeking out why we are doing them. Am I falling a Christmas tradition because it’s what I’ve always done?
B. “everyone is doing it and we don’t want to seem out of the holiday spirit”
Pressure to conform to someone else’s standard has led many good hearted Christians down the path of carnality. However, there is a point where we should seek to get along with the world but not fit into it. Kinda like oil and water. Oil and water coexist but they do not intermingle. If they are stirred up and blended together, their own natures will naturally push them apart from each other. Even while they are in close proximity to each other, they will eventually settle and separate. They still still abide in the same container but everyone that comes by will see the separation and wonder what is different. Unlike water and dry ice, they remain together. The water cannot enter or exit the container without passing through this oil layer on top. Dry ice sends part of itself out of the container as quickly as it enters. We shouldn’t seamlessly it into the world. The world should see us different! 1 Peter 2:9 “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:”
C. “it brings Christmas joy”
Nothing brings Christmas joy more than knowing that your sins are forgiven and that you don’t have to spend eternity away from our Creator. Enough said!
In our world, we do things that defy imagination and logic. Christmas decorations have nothing to do with The Christmas Story yet, we see them going up faster than the wind moves. I’m not saying it’s a sin to put them up but we live in a society that worships the decoration more than the Deity! Today, every time that you see a Christmas decoration, remember to pray for lost souls and share the Christmas Story of Jesus. I tomorrow’s devotional, we will talk about the one thing that most people do on Christmas that hurts the true meaning of Christmas. Join us again as we address real life issues with biblical answers on Worship With Willie.