Thursday, December 13, 2018

Deconstructing the "Holidays" to Uncover the Meaning of "Christmas"

"Black Friday" and "Cyber-Monday" are over. The Thanksgiving days of feasting are now days of healthy, moderate eating. I'm about to sit down for a bowl of cereal with bananas. 

I turn on the TV. "Holiday" stuff is on. So is a special on Christmas and the White House. I actually heard, on TV, the word "Christmas" several times!

But little of this "holiday" stuff really concerns Christmas. Because...  

#1 - Christmas has nothing to do with shopping. 

I’m not against shopping. I like to go to the mall with Linda and look around. I like the crowds and the lights and the music and the candy. I like eating red and green M&Ms. Yet all these things have nothing to do with Christmas. 

What, then, is Christmas about? There’s a big clue in the word itself. Christmas has to do with “Christ.” What does that mean? The word “Christ” means “anointed King.” Jesus is “the Christ,” the anointed King. "Christ" is the Greek word for the Hebrew word "Messiah."

"Christmas" = Messiah has come.

#2 - Christmas has nothing to do with gift-giving. 

But what about the wise men who brought gifts? They came after Jesus was born. Remove them from your manger scene and place them somewhere outside the house, perhaps down the road a ways. They did bring gifts to honor Jesus’ birth. They did not go shopping to buy gifts to give one another. 

Is it wrong to do that? I don’t think so. I love giving gifts to my family. I like opening gifts. But giving gifts to one another has nothing to do with Christmas. Except that, in Jesus, God gave a great Gift to all humanity. For that Gift, I remain eternally grateful. "

Christmas" = A Gift, from God, to us.

#3 - Christmas has nothing to do with tree-decorating. 

Is it wrong to have a Christmas tree? I don’t think so. I like decorating the tree every year. I like the lights, especially old-fashioned large multi-colored ones. I enjoy going to Bronner's, just 75 miles north of us. But decorated trees have nothing to do with Christmas. Read the original Christmas story in both Matthew and Luke and see for yourself. There were no trees or lights or tinsel. And, it didn't smell like fresh-cut pine.

"Christmas" = the birth of God's Son, who would eventually be crucified on a tree.

#4 - Christmas has nothing to do with snow. 

When first-century Jews hoped for a Messiah (a “Christ”), not one of them was dreaming of a white Christmas. Those ancient people were under great political oppression. They could care less if it snowed or not. I care. Linda doesn't. Nonetheless, "snow" is neither an essential attribute nor a contingent attribute of "Christmas."

"Christmas" = Messiah who comes to make us, righteously, "whiter than snow." (Ps. 51:7)

#5 - Christmas has nothing to do with the economy. 

I have friends who are local retailers, and I want them to do well. Many of them have given their business over to God. I am thankful for their focus on Jesus, as they work creatively and hard to make a living, all to the glory of God. I pray for them to be greatly blessed, to include financially! 

I like a stable American economy. But here's the point, which we must never lose sight of. Christmas has nothing to do with a consumer economy. The angels were not rejoicing because Christmas sales were up as a result of the Christ being born. 

Get this: God’s Son was born into radical poverty. Mary ended up singing about how God would now finally help the poor and the hungry and the marginalized and the oppressed. 

"Christmas" = the beginning of the "Great Reversal," where the proud, mighty, and rich are brought down and the poor, hungry, and lowly are exalted. (See Luke 1:46-55, e.g.)

I like the holidays. For me and Linda, the days of Christmas are truly holy-days. They remind me of times with my parents and brother when I was growing up. And times Linda and I had with our sons. They remind Linda and I of a son of ours, David, who died, which made one holiday season not so jolly. They remind me of Linda's father Del, who lived with us for seven years until he died on New year's Eve 2012. (Deck the halls with melancholy...)

Still, I like the holidays ,and I love Real Christmas Music, which I'm listening to right now (HERE). 

But mostly, I love Jesus. 

When I became a follower of Jesus I left a life of drug and alcohol abuse forever. I doubt I’d be alive today if not for Jesus. Jesus still fills my life, now more than ever as I grow older. This time of the year is another opportunity to experience and encounter and think about the Christ, my Savior, and yours too.

"Christmas" = love, worship, and adoration of Christ the Lord, King, Savior, Redeemer, Rescuer, Bondage-Breaker, Lamb of God, Revolutionary, promised Messiah, my Lord and my God.

On "deconstruction" see - More Thoughts on Deconstruction

My two books are:

Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God