When I was young, no one was saying anything bad about Christmas…particularly not Christians. Of course, at the age of 62 I have seen a lot of changes in the so-called holy day.
It’s not holy for most people, first of all…just an excuse to have family over for a feast, and to buy a lot of unnecessary items for the pleasure of getting them. But it’s not about Yeshua, and never has been.
Once it was about a holy ‘mass’, given in honor of Yeshua’s supposed birthday, which was conveniently mashed together by the Roman and Orthodox churches with other, more pagan celebrations…the Saturnalia, a veritable orgy in honor of the god Saturn, and of course Mithras, who was said to be born on December 25th, and whose representative day has more to do with the Sun and sun worship.
I don’t object to masses being sung…ritual is always pretty, and can be fun for those in them, and their families, but otherwise remind me of nothing more than a holy parade. But the Catholic and Orthodox churches take it seriously, and think they honor the Jesus they know, and one hopes the Jewish man we know as Yeshua haMashiach takes what is given in the spirit offered. It’s certainly beautiful, and tuneful.
And more Reform based Believers sing out carols, and go to church to listen to the never old tale of a babe in a manger…which, when translated into the Hebrew actuality, was probably a Sukkah at the Feast of Tabernacles. But it’s still a celebration, whenever it is done, of the redeemer we all need being born into human flesh to become our kapparah, and ransom us from the debt load of sin we carry from day to day and month to month, and year to year, with Yeshua standing in the breach for all who trust in him to do so.
And it’s a time to value family, and friends, and community…and if some people light a lot of lights to decorate their homes, and put up a Christmas tree, and put presents under it…well, I grew up with that, and enjoyed it very much.
I don’t have family to celebrate with, although they have a tree and presents, since my family doesn’t acknowledge the ‘reason for the season’! Christmas and Yeshua’s birth is just a pretty story to them that mostly makes no sense, but that they enjoy in a cultural way. And so does much of the world, due to Madison Avenue advertising and marketing that make Christmas the yearly splurge for things that people don’t need, but may well enjoy…even if they are in debt the rest of the year.
Strange customs, to trickle out of a once reverent church service, that however wrong in actual birth dates, and even for different gods, was at least correct in wishing to remind everyone of Yeshua. And so a feast, and gatherings, and song, and even some pleasure at the memory of G-d taking human form in a tabernacle of flesh, in order to right the mess humankind had gotten themselves into is a good idea.
And so, I bake a bit, and make a roast, and sit back to enjoy the one day I listen to Christmas Carols, and watch the newest Nativity movie, and try to recall that celebrations are just celebrations, and to be enjoyed.
One cannot but hope that Yeshua looks down from the Father’s throne, and simply shakes his head a little at our childish behavior, before giving in, and simply deciding to enjoy us celebrating his existence, and his deliberate plan to save us from ourselves.
Christmas trees, masses, feasts and presents aside, it certainly is worthwhile to sing a bit of praise about G-d becoming man for a short time so that we could have the opportunity to know him, and be changed by him to be a little like him one day. And if we manage to be a little like him on Christmas Day, I feel sure he will overlook anything that seems unnecessary in our celebration of his birth.
Most of all, though, if we can give a gift to someone who doesn’t know Yeshua…the best one would be the knowledge of him, and what he has done for us.