Christmiss

30Nov07

jesussanta.jpgA blog friend of mine has a great discussion going on in regards to this season and commercialism. My wife also wrote a post this week dealing with some thoughts. I’d like to take a different approach. Both of these posts I’ve mentioned have challenged my thinking and even sent me down paths I haven’t thought of before. Here’s where I am heading.

What is Christmas?

Just for a second, answer that question. Of course if you are in Starbucks right now, do it in your head or people will stare…

I bet if we ask 10 people this, we will get 10 different answers. That makes sense right? We all have grown up during this season with different family experiences. Different traditions. Maybe there are things we have grown to love or to dislike. We are all so diverse.

OK, step back for a minute. If you are a Christian, you will see things in this season that non-Christians or people of different faiths do not see. You will have traditions and experiences that may be completely different than someone who does not know Jesus.

Let’s get back to how you answered the question. What is Christmas? Some may say it is a time we celebrate Jesus birth. Some will say it is a time to shop and receive gifts. Others may say it is a time they would like to forget about because loved ones are no longer with them. There are so many emotions and experiences that shape this season.

So here is my point. There should only be one answer.

Christmas is about Christ.

BUT, here is the problem. We try to wrap Christ up into this whole season called the holidays. Christmas day is a day to remember Christ. As Christians, we spend all season focusing on this. Others may want to make it something different, but that is what it is. Christmas is about Jesus. Now, I see the “holiday season” as an amazing time of year to enjoy friends, family and the events of the season.

I don’t believe that Christmas and the holidays are the same thing. I don’t think they should be considered the same thing.

Here’s the problem. This season can be an amazing time of year for all of us. It can also be and should be a time to dig into who Jesus was and is in our lives. It can also be a perfect time to share who Jesus is with others through our participation in their lives. BUT, we as Christians are very concerned about Christ being taken out of Christmas. Let me remind you, there are two different things going on. One is a holiday season with shopping and events and Santa. The other is a time to remember our Savior. When we fight to keep Jesus in midst of the holiday festivities, in a way, we are fighting for Jesus to be a part of this massive, crazy commercial beast. Do we want Jesus selling blow up Santa’s? Do we want the name of Christ used to invite people to a dinner at home town Buffet? Do we want the word Christmas to be the reason people get drunk on eggnog and kiss their bosses wife?

How would it  make you feel if you knew a store was using Christmas in their marketing to gain Christian customers? That would make you mad, wouldn’t it. How dare they sell me stuff using the name of Christ. But are we fighting to allow this to happen?

Am I being clear enough here? Am I making sense? When a large “Conservative Christian” organization blasts Walmart for saying holiday instead of Christmas, it is almost as if they are wanting Walmart to use the name of Christ to sell their’s products. I personally would prefer a commercial organization NOT use the name of Christ  to promote their products.

I don’t mind there being a holiday season, in which, we as Christians celebrate a day called Christmas to remember our Savior’s birth.  We don’t need to fight to keep Christ’s name in commercialism, we need to fight to always be able to celebrate the birth of Christ in this season.

So, enjoy the holidays. Shop, eat and spend time with family and friends. Of course, do this with your life as a Christian in mind. BUT most importantly, celebrate Jesus this season and do not water down who He is or what He’s done. Don’t tie Him in with all the crazy stuff going on. I really don’t think Jesus cares if you find the perfect gift or get to the store at 4am the day after thanksgiving or find that exact parking space at the mall.

He cares if you remember Him…Purely and Simply…Just Him.

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32 Responses to “Christmiss”

  1. Isn’t it cool that we can be totally unaware of one another’s thoughts on this issue and still come to many of the same conclusions? Thanks for the great post, my friend.

  2. 2 Brandy

    WOW
    Never thought of it like that honestly. Good points. I like what you said about Christmas and the holiday season being two seperate things. That makes a lot of sense actually.
    I had to laugh at your eggnog comments though considering I am sitting here sipping on nice rummy eggnog. heehee 😉

    I have a question though….
    How do you explain Christmas to a three year old so they will understand? Dylan just looks at me like “WHAT?!” The last two years I have tried, but I don’t think I got anything acrossed.

  3. Bran – Do you want to explain Christmas or the Holiday’s? Jesus or Santa or both?

    mmmm…eggnog…mmmm

  4. Jeremy – I love when God is working on hearts!

    When you guys get a chance, check out Jeremy’s post…

    http://milestoneworship.com/?p=105

  5. Identifying the two elements of the season – The secular Holidays and the spiritual Christmas (I guess we sould call this part “Advent” or something like that?) was sheer intuitive brilliance. Like you said on my site, Christ is for Christmas, shopping is for Santa. There are two things going on here and even though we can realize and accept that, as Christians we are also able to do it all with Jesus in our hearts. Trying to ‘force’ the Holiday season into an overt Christian template will often end up in frustration and stress over how we see other people ‘disrespecting’ Christ (or us).

    Bravo!

  6. Hi Brett –
    Totally agree with the need to but the focus where it belongs – however, a group in St. Louis came up with a way to have the “Big Guy” tell that message – from Santa himself about the reason he (Santa) exists – http://ChristmasGrams.com
    We are finding the children are really into the video, and most importantly the message

    Blessings!

  7. Great post. I really like how you explained this. Perfect!

  8. Christian – “Trying to ‘force’ the Holiday season into an overt Christian template will often end up in frustration and stress over how we see other people ‘disrespecting’ Christ (or us).”

    I believe you are exactly correct. Which is why we may see many large Christian groups “acting” like they do this time of year.

    Mary – I’d like to see the video, but it doesn’t look like the site link is working. Maybe you could check on that?

    Rochelle – Thanks for reading and listening!

  9. Hey B. This is the best read I have seen so far on this topic…and no I don’t want anything…:) Your examples above from about the blow up Santas down….is a point I was trying to make earlier. I would rather keep Christmas in stuff, and have Christians representing Christ to honor Him in their actions. I have grown very weary from people taking God out of country because the people are not portraying what they should as believers in Christ. The lifestyle needs to fit the acknowledgement of His being our Savior. I look ahead to the days when we won’t be able to buy or sell unless we have the mark…to me it starts with being ok with God being removed as a whole from our Nation. It’s good that in our homes we are doing these things to honor Him…I just think it needs to reach alot bigger area if we are going to see a change..which is what I’m rooting for.

  10. Hey GG – Your passion for this country’s revival is a good one. It has to start with each of us living the life. Like you said though, it can’t just be in the home. it has to be everywhere. Christians are very defensive when in reality our God doesn’t need our defending, He needs us to show others who He is.

    You really don’t want anything 🙂

  11. Ya, what you said…that’s it! Well, maybe…but we’ll talk tomorrow LOL

  12. 12 Ed

    You make a very good point. Separating the religious celebration of Jesus’s birthday from the secular holiday season.

    For a Christian I would expect the emphasis would be on Jesus’s birthday. As an atheist I celebrate the Christmas holiday season.

    I find it interesting that one of the origins of this holiday season may have been the “Feast of Fools”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feast_of_Fools

    I have made a fool of my self enough times so maybe this is why I enjoy this holiday season. 🙂

    The only negative aspect of the commercialization of this holiday season is when people go into debt buying gifts. If they do it’s their own fault.

    However we celebrate this season the point that should be emphasized is that it is an opportunity to spend more time with your family and friends.

    The gift giving part of the holiday should be more about giving then receiving.

    I spend Christmas visiting with my nieces, the only family I have left. The best part is watching how happy the children are, at least until someone brakes a toy and starts crying. 🙂

  13. Great post!

    For me, it’s about remembering who Jesus is and what Jesus did (and does) each day of our lives. Christmas should be a day to re-emphasize this, but ultimately, it’s a theme that should carry over to our whole life. I’d never thought of the Wall-Mart angle before, but I think you hit it right on the head. I want my Jesus celebrated, remembered and worshipped…not used to promote the latest chocolate santa to hit the shelves.

    Thanks Brent!

  14. 14 Momma Jen

    Okay – it’s posts like this that make me want to never post again; but instead, read other people’s blogs. 🙂
    I just got done reading Tam’s blog about the same subject – I think you both hit it right on the head!
    A few years back I used to get so upset w/ the “happy holidays” yada yada…”I’m sorry – don’t you mean Merry Chirstmas!??!”
    But one day I realized (more like God pointed out) that it didn’t matter what other’s were saying, wishing, advertising – I was having a Merry Christmas! Celebrating the birth of our Saviour – Jesus Christ.
    Instead, I became saddened by the fact that there were people out there who were not celebrating Jesus. Not just on Christmas – but everyday.
    Thank you Brent & Tammy for such wonderful insight (with all of your great posts!!)
    Merry Christmas!

  15. 15 Brad

    Hey Brent – you had some great thoughts on this subject. I like how you are challenging Christians to focus on the real battle (for souls) instead of complaining about what often amounts to be nothing more than semantical arguments. (i.e. Hey, let’s all boycott Toys R Us because they don’t have an angel on top of their tree!)
    But I also wonder if there is a middle ground. I agree with you that I don’t want to see stores using Jesus’ birth to boost sales – that’s a great point…”Hey shoppers, this year, nothing says celebrating the birth of our saviour like half off on mens’ socks!”…but I think on the other hand, there is an element out there who want no mention of Jesus’ birth, period. For instance, when a store like Target a few years back forbid their employees from saying “Merry Christmas” to customers, that seems to be a bit more than a mere ‘separation of church and retail’.
    Or even more absurd, where my mother-in-laws teaches school in the bay area, a few years ago they told the teachers not to display Santa’s or Christmas trees for fear of offending other religions! So apparently Santa is a symbol for Christ’s birth! …I’m sure they also must think we celebrate the death and resurrection of the bunny at Easter! …Great topic! 🙂

  16. I’m with you there Brad…

    For me, it’s not as much about what they choose to sell or not, what they choose to call their merchandise…I don’t care really. I’ve just had it up to my ears on the whole PC thing! That is what’s driving me looney(er)!

    I wrote last week about Starsucks (a-hem) naming their new coffee blend 2 different things…One is a Holiday Blend and the other is a Christmas blend. Same exact bean and roast but in an effort to be “politically correct and to not offend”, as I was told there, they’ve given the consumer a choice. But what WILL they do if the Holiday blend has run out???

    I remember when Target put “merry Christmas” out of business for their employees too. Brent asked me yesterday if that was an infringement on free speech. Is it?

    I have a big electric pole down on the road in front of my house. It is in the shape of a cross – as are every single one of them in the Valley. I’m waiting for the loud majority to sue the county for offending their right not to be infiltrated with religious suggestions. I wouldn’t be shocked.

  17. Call me crazy ( a few do frequently – but mostly just out of earshot! 😉 ) but any day you don’t give thanks for or remember Jesus’ Birth and Death and Eternal Life is a day you are not living as a Christian.

    Picking out one day of the three hundred and sixty six as somehow ‘special for Him and to remember His Birth is a bit like us Aussies do for the Queen. Her Birthday is April 21 – day after my Mum’s so i don’t forget – but the Main celebration is the second Monday in June!

    It get’s weirder – this is in five of our 6 states! In MY home state her birthday (holiday off work) is the last Monday in September or First in October ‘depending’.

    Even more ridiculously still this is the case for the region surounding the Capital of the State, Perth but it can vary two weeks in other parts of the same state!

    The point i am trying to make is Dec 25 is most likely NOT Christ’s real day of birth, even if a bunch of people got together and decided to make it this date to coincide with another ‘spiritual festival’ or Holy Day most likely due to it’s proximity to the Summer Solstice ( in Southern latitudes), or Winter Solstice in other locations.

    This was an Auspicious time of year for pagans and early religions since it symbolised the end of the shortening of days and beginning of the ‘New’ Year commencing – is usually Dec 21/22.

    By all means enjoy the Holiday, remember Christ on one Day of the Year as ‘celebration’ all Christians may share in honour of His Birth – give like there may be no tomorrow to friend family and foe alike. Show Your Love! ( His Love).

    But don’t get caught up in the wrong thinking that Dec 25th is all about Him – it’s truly all about ‘us’ whater ‘we’ are, believers and non-belivers alike.

    True Christians celebrate EVERY SINGLE DAY WE LIVE as His Day – in Us!

    At least that is what I believe.

    Some people call me crazy – did i mention that at all? 😉

    love

  18. Ed

    “For a Christian I would expect the emphasis would be on Jesus’s birthday.”

    You are exactly right Ed. My focus this season will be on the celebration of Jesus’ birth. I’ll enjoy everything else, but as Christian mentioned, my faith will affect who I am and how I act throughout this season.

    And debt stinks! I know. I also agree with that fact that it is better to give then receive.

    MommaJen – thanks for the kind words and Merry Christmas to you guys as well!!!

    Jim and Love – You guys have hit on something important. this celebration should take place all year round. Obviously someones birthday is always taken notice of and this season gives us that idea, but our relationship with Christ and our belief in His birth, death and resurrection are something to celebrate all the time!

    And Love you are correct, that December 26th is probably NOT the actual day of birth. Many scholars actually believe it was in Spring…Maybe more reason to celebrate all year round…

    Finally, Love you are crazy, but we all kind of like you that way 🙂

    Brad – I think what you ring up is a subject that drives me crazy! Political Correctness is horrid. I think tam spoke to it well. It is obviously involved in the commercial aspect of this season. We shouldn’t expect that Christians get special treatment anymore than some other religious group or people, but there should be freedom. I have a hard time with where the line is drawn for businesses. Should a business be able to tell someone at a door not to say Merry Christmas??? That seems silly to me, but there are lawsuits and legal issues and the almighty dollar at work, so i can’t say for sure. I personally do NOT have an issue with it, but I believe and celebrate it.

    I think there are some great thoughts here and most importantly being that we as Christians be who we should be this time of year. A loving, sharing and giving people. ready to share Christ with others and eager to celebrate who He is.

  19. Tam – I didn’t forget you. You are just too brilliant for me and I can’t bear to add or take away from anything you’ve said

    🙂 Love ya!

  20. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!WOO HOO

  21. Happy Birthday Brent!

  22. Happy belated birthday!

    I loved this post. I generally do not spend much time in deep thought as I find that usually gets interrupted by a “mommyyyyyyyy”. I had not at all thought about the idea that maybe we shouldn’t be getting frustrated by companies/organizations taking Christ out of Christmas…and you brought up such good points about that. It does still frustrate me though because it’s not just the Christmas season that they are trying to take away from Christians, it is an across the board issue. No prayer in schools, no “In God we trust”, no “one nation under God”, etc. I think that many Christians are so fed up with the country trying to take God out of everything, that is is just one more slap in the face. Sure, I totally agree that advertising using the name of Christ is probably not something we should really be fighting about, but I think for me, and many others, it is bigger than that. An overall feeling that this country is trying to squash all mentions of God, Christ, Jesus, etc in an attempt not to offend a very small minority. It just seems crazy to me that we live in a free country, yet we are being told over an over that we are not allowed to say and do certain things…not because they might harm someone…only because they might offend someone.

  23. Kristen – I hear you. I am trying to understand how we can go from a country that allows all religious freedoms and expressions to one that allows all but Christian. I understand we aren’t there yet. the reality is there are a lot of freedoms that we still have even some special treatment, but it seems to be heading this way.

    I am curious to see what our next President will see as a priority in his…or her time in office. I am hoping for a revived pursuit of religious freedom. But, I think with that will come some things that Christians aren’t happy with, like more freedoms for other religions.

    I am afraid that both come with the territory. this is even more reason for Christians to actually act like Christians. When the world sees us displaying what we profess, they will be interested in being a part of our lives and may then even allow God to be a part of theirs.

  24. Sorry…thanks for the happy birthday Kristen 🙂

  25. Hey. I stumbled across a cool article that reminded me of this conversation.

  26. That’s great article Buddy.

    What the heck happened to your avatar???

    we can only handle one cute bear around here 🙂

  27. Is that a bear? Looks like he’s gagged. One can only hope….

  28. I have no clue what that is?

    Definitely not the picture of stature that yours brings to the table 🙂

  29. …..zzzzh
    …………Hey! Was that a crack about short people?


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