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Christmas is about Christ

By Gary F. Zeolla

In this article, I will discuss various issues relating to Christmas.

Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays!

Which is it? Should we wish people a Merry Christmas this time of year, or should we wish them Happy Holidays? Up until a few years ago, here in America, the former predominated. But now, most business, schools, public officials, and the like have switched to the latter. And many feel this is an attempt to take Christ out of Christmas. But others say it is just realistic in a society in which not everyone is Christian.

First, it should be noted, that "holiday" is a corruption of "holy day." Moreover, the word has now been secularized with no religious connotations associated with it. And that is the broader point.

The changing of "Christmas" to "holidays" is just a small part of the larger agenda of secularists to remove any mention of religious faith from the public arena. It is similar to the attempts to remove "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance, to remove "In God We Trust" from bills and coins, to remove the Ten Commandments from court houses, and to remove any mention of God from the public schools.

The secularist would be very happy if the only time "God" or Christ" were mentioned would be inside private homes and churches. Any public areas should be "God-free" as far as they are concerned.

But does this matter? Religion really is an issue of the heart and personal faith. There does not need to be mention of God in the public arena for someone to have faith in God. And the secularist are not trying to outlaw religion altogether.

However, by relegating any mention of God to homes and churches, what the secularist are effectively doing is teaching our children that God is irrelevant in everyday life. God has no part in learning, in the government, in sporting events, in celebrations of any kind, and any other aspect of daily life. God is simply a nice little thought to comfort us in our private moments. And as children are raised is such an environment, they gradually begin to adopt this "God is irrelevant" attitude, and He slowly fades from their mindsets.

So with each passing generation, America becomes less Christian and more secular, until the Christian faith is no longer a driving force in the culture or in the lives of most individuals. This is what has happened in most of Europe and Canada, and the secularist would love to see it happen in America.

So I for one will continue to wish people a Merry Christmas, and I will take my business to places where they wish people Merry Christmas and sell Christmas gifts and decorations, not "holiday" items.

Merchandize Season

The mention of the buying Christmas gifts and decorations leads to the next point, the commercialization of Christmas. It is by far the biggest shopping time of the year. In fact, most businesses depend on Christmas shopping to get them into the "black"-hence the term "Black Friday" to refer to the day after Thanksgiving.

And I would say there is nothing wrong with buying Christmas presents for loved ones and putting up Christmas decorations, but the degree to which many go with it is way overboard. The sheer number and amount of gifts that many buy is truly outrageous. Many parents even feel the best way to show their love to their children is by buying them lots of presents, everything they want for Christmas.

But this in turn can develop a sense of greed in the children. It can also make them feel they should always get what they want, that they are "owed" the best in life. But, of course, as they get older they will get a rude awakening. You simply cannot have everything you want, and the world does not owe you anything.

The sad part is that what children really want and need most is time with their parents. And if the parents weren't so busy working overtime to buy all of those gifts, they might have time to spend with their children.

It also is not necessary to buy present for everyone you know. I know people who will buy presents for their doctor, their dentist, their mail carriers, and everyone else they come in contact with on a regular basis. I am not saying not to give tips where tips are due. But a simple card with a cash gift or small "token" gift will due. But as each additional present is purchased, more time and money is spent on shopping rather than on the more important aspects of the Christmas season.

Similar to this are Christmas decorations. A few decorations inside and outside of the home are nice. But again, the degree that some people go to is simply outlandish. And again, we are talking about a lot of time and money that could be better spent elsewhere.

Christmas Goodies

Jesus was born in Bethlehem, came to earth to die for my sins. Hallelujah! Let me show my thankfulness by stuffing my face with as many Christmas cookies as I can jam in. Doesn't seem to make much sense when you put it that way, does it? But that is exactly the attitude of many Christians.

Many take the excuse of Christmas to go right off their diets as the Christmas carol puts it, and not just to overeat, but to eat a lot of junk food. Now I'll give credit to Christians in that for the most part they do not use the Christmas season as an excuse to get drunk every night, but still, stuffing yourself with junk food for a week straight can be almost as damaging to your health.

And this attitude that religious events should be celebrated with junk food extends to just about everything Christians do. At every home Bible study I've attended, afterwards was always a time to "fellowship" around a bunch of cookies, cake, pie or the like. Given this, it is no surprise that there have been many times when I have been the only person at the Bible study who was not significantly overweight.

Then when the time for prayer comes at the end of the Bible study, it seems that 90% or more of the prayer requests have to do with someone suffering from some type of health problem: heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, and the like. Yet, every one of these and many more health problems are diet related.

So do you think there could be a connection between the constant eating of junk food in Christian circles and the majority of Christian seeming to be overweight and suffering from diet related health problems?

It is possible to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior without stuffing yourself with junk food, and it is possible to study the Bible and "fellowship" without it being centered around cookies and cake. Ever think of maybe taking a walk together after a Bible study instead of eating junk food?

Or at least serve something healthy. When I've been responsible for providing the after study food, I've prepared veggie trays, fruit trays, nuts and dried fruit, whole grain muffins, whole grain tortilla chips with a healthy dip, or for the low carb folks, squares of meat and cheese. It is possible to find healthy alternatives; it just takes a little imagination. And the same goes for Christmas celebrations. Cookies are not a necessary part of Christmas. They can be replaced with healthier alternatives.

Colds and Flu

Come January, it seems that everyone is coming down with a cold or the flu. And everyone likes to blame it on the weather, or being cooped up inside, or something else beyond their control. But how about thinking back to the Christmas season?

You just spent weeks preparing for Christmas, running around from store to store or spending hours on end on the Internet shopping for presents for everyone you know, preparing Christmas cards to mail out to everyone you can think of, baking piles of Christmas cookies and other Christmas goodies, and putting up Christmas decorations in and on every nook and cranny of your house.

Then Christmas week comes and you stay up late every night as you go from party to party, stuffing your face with as much junk food as you can jam into your stomach. Then you stay up all night New Year's Eve, pigging out all night long. Then when it is all over, you have to "un-decorate" the house and clean up the mess.

By the time the Christmas season is over, you're run ragged. Do you think that maybe, just maybe there could be a connection between all of this and you're getting sick in January?

The worst part is this was all done in the name of celebrating the birth of Christ. But as you think back, you realize that you "forgot" to even go to church on Christmas, let alone take time to mediate about what the Christmas season is really all about.

Choose the Good Part

38Now it happened, as they [were] going, that He entered into a certain village. Then a certain woman, by name Martha, welcomed Him into her house. 39And to this [woman] was a sister [fig., she had a sister] being called Mary, who also having seated herself beside the feet of Jesus, was listening to His word. 40But Martha was being distracted about much service, and coming up, she said, "Lord, You are concerned that my sister has been leaving me alone to be serving, are You not? Then tell her, that she should help along with me." 41But answering, Jesus said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and disquieted about many [things], 42but of one [thing] there is need. But Mary chose the good part, which will not be taken away from her." (Luke 10:38-42; ALT).

Christmas is about Christ, along with fellowshipping with family and friends. But so many Christians spend so much time buying Christmas presents, baking Christmas cookies, preparing Christmas meals, sending out Christmas cards, decorating the house, and the like, that they never seem to have time to enjoy the important parts of Christmas.

So my advice would be to slow down this year. Look at all of the presents you were planning on buying, all of the baking you were planning on doing, all of the decorating and the like, and cut it all in half. And use that extra time to mediate on Christ and what His birth in Bethlehem really means and to actually talk with and get to know your family and friends.

And take all of that money you saved by not buying all of those things you were "anxious and disquieted about" and give it to those who are really in need. And since you won't have ruined your health over the Christmas season, you will have the energy to reach out and touch someone in need. And then you will come to know the "good part"-the true meaning of Christmas.

8And shepherds were in the same region staying in the fields and watching over their flock [during the] watches of the night. 9And look! An angel of [the] Lord stood over them, and [the] glory of [the] Lord shone around them, and they feared [with] a great fear. 10And the angel said to them, "Stop being afraid! For listen! I bring to you* the Gospel [or, Good News] of great joy, which will be to all people. 11Because a Savior was born to you* today in the city of David, who is Christ [the] Lord! 12And this [will be] the sign to you*: You* will find a Baby having been wrapped in long strips of cloth, lying in a feeding trough."

13And suddenly [there] was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly army [or, host], praising God, and saying, 14"Glory to God in [the] highest, and peace on earth, good will among people!" (Luke 2:8-14; ALT).

Christmas is about Christ Copyright 2005 by Gary F. Zeolla of Darkness to Light ministry (www.dtl.org).

The above article first appeared in the Free Darkness to Light Newsletter.
It was posted on this site December 1, 2005.

Person and Work of Christ

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