As I was driving around doing last minute shopping, I was listening to Michael Medved give a history lesson on the traditions of Christmas.
Confession: I do listen to talk radio, but I get irritated at the format because basically callers are only fodder for the hosts use to further his or hers own goals and agenda. I may or may not agree with that agenda on any given day, but I dislike the promoted preception that this is a conversation, when it rarely resembles anything even close to that. Enough said.
I have heard much of this info before, mostly from legalistic joyless Christians who are trying to prove they are holier by denying their kids presents and carols to sing. Okay, there’s a few cultists and atheists thrown in there, too.
I know Jesus wasn’t born in December (probably spring), and the Wisemen arrived not at the stable but when Jesus’ family was in a house and he was probably 2. Much of the symbolism, from evergreens and holly to gift giving smacks of the Roman holiday Saturnalia, just without the orgy part. You have to admit, that does make it a tad holier.
But who really cares. I am not worshiping the tree; the gifts are not what may be impressing a deity; I have no illusions that poor shepherds long ago were shivering under their tunics to the celestial chorus. December or May–who cares!
It is the heart attitude that matters in all of this here in 2011. Christians probably chose Dec. 25 as a way to relate to pagan neighbors and redeem the pagan holiday. But no matter the details or process, what it can mean is a set aside time to honor the God-man who came as a baby. It can mean loving and honoring family who are made in God’s image. It can mean giving meaningful gifts, not out of obligation, but out of a sincere desire to bless. It can mean having a joyous time that is honest and authentic towards God and man. It can be a reminder to reach out to those who are hurting and who are less fortunate. May it be so!
So were there pagan origins interwined in this “blessed” season. Of course! But who cares. What it has become is another opportunity to serve God and be kingdom people in a hurting world.