If this were not a Sunday post, I think it would be titled...
"Why I Celebrate Christmas".
Someone had mentioned in a comment about a person who does not celebrate during the Holidays due to the pagan beginnings of the DAY chosen to celebrate the birth of Christ. I have known people with whom I agreed on most areas of theology but in this area, we had to agree to disagree.
I celebrated wholeheartedly... they did not.
Now, I admit to finding Church history fascinating so I hope I don't bore you with some details. We know the most probable reason for choosing the time of year we celebrate the birth of Christ was for it to coincide with the Winter Solstice celebrations already in place.
No one knew exactly the date of Christ's birth but most historians believe it was in the Spring since the shepherds were watching over their sheep. There are some who think it may have been in the fall.
The date was not chosen for it to be part of a pagan celebration, it was really chosen as a matter of convenience... and even then the date was intermingled with other Church feasts and celebrations such as Epiphany.
The point is, the original season and date has nothing to do about honoring the birth of Christ. It's much like my calling Easter, well... Easter. I have friends who will only call it Resurrection Day because the name Easter was associated with something more pagan. I respect them and thus, their theology.
But Easter was never pagan in my little part of the world! The most pagan my celebration of Easter becomes is when I color some eggs (the sign of new life among pagans... and farmers) and pretend the Easter bunny brought candy (believe me, my children knew it was Mother).
I know as Christians we have a range of ideas about the elephant in the room called Santa. I just tend to love a little fantasy here and there, a little pretend, a lot of sparkle. We never did the Santa thing but Mother was known to tell kids Santa just may stop by to fill stockings (wink, wink). I mean, really... with a wink and a nod to "let's have a little fun here and use our imagination".
In no way was Santa ever given credit for buying and wrapping gifts. I was too
Although come to think of it, they may have thought I worshiped snowmen in the bleak midwinter... but that is another source of pondering. ;)
By the way, do you know the true story of Saint Nicholas? I know it can be difficult to cut through what is truth and legend but still his story is wonderful and well worth reading this time of year.
Okay, then we get to the whole Christmas tree has pagan roots, etc. If you are a Druid then... yes... when you put up that Christmas tree each year you definitely are worshiping your Druid god.
But the closest I ever get to becoming a Druid is singing along with the John Denver on the itty bitty iPod while walking through the forest. I can definitely understand how one who does not know the One True God would try to create one in such Beauty.
However, did you know St. Bonifice used the evergreen tree to teach about the trinity (triangle... tree... get it?). Did you know that Martin Luther brought a tree in his house and lit candles on it at Christmas to represent how the stars lit up the dark night?
I love how a person described it on a show about Christmas traditions and using trees (and other greenery) in decorating our homes for the Season. He said pagans may have used these items to worship the sun but in our homes, we worship the Son.
If you read the New Testament, especially the writings of St. Paul, he is brought up with these same situations many times. Not with Christmas, of course, but in the conflicts between what is under the Law and what is under the new Grace brought about by Christ.
His answer is often this, do what you believe you are free to do while not causing a brother (who does not have such freedom) to stumble. For me in the 21st Century, this means celebrating Christmas and Easter and any other Holiday my way but giving you the grace to celebrate (or in this case, not celebrate) in your way.
The only times there would be real concern is when the one who does or does not celebrate thinks they are "holier than thou" and the peace of the Season is destroyed by one who feels their way is the only way. (How many times have Christians won an argument only to lose another for the Kingdom of Christ, it has to make God weep.)
To be honest, I don't know how any Holiday in which one is pointed toward the Savior for weeks and weeks can be a bad thing. How can a Season when one turns on the car radio and hears Silent Night or Oh, Come All Ye Faithful be against our Lord? That is why those who hate the Christian religion hate Christmas and have tried for years to legislate it out of existence in the Public Square.
My friend, Linda, has heard me wax poetic about legalism most likely more than she cares. But I saw what it did to my mother and thus to my siblings from her first marriage. Legalism rarely (if ever) draws one to the Cross. Instead it acts as the opposite side of the magnet and pushes them away from Truth... leading one toward the darkness and away from the true Light.
Our God is a source of all joy! "Every good and perfect gift is from above... (James 1:17). When everything around us is pointing to the Savior... it is a perfect gift.
So, why would God allow the church to celebrate in the bleak Midwinter? I don't know, perhaps He knew this world... in its' darkness... would "need a little Christmas, right this very minute" throughout the centuries.
Think of all the celebrations, the Feasts, the Days of Remembrance among the Jewish people. If anything, God certainly understands Holidays that are meant for remembering. They were His idea... the very God who was delighted when King David danced.
If Christ's birth was in the Spring, He has given us another celebration during that time, you know. It is a celebration of an event that happened during Passover two centuries ago, and whether you call it Easter or Resurrection Day, we are to...