What if Christmas wasn’t just an excuse for gluttony?
In Canada and the United States, we celebrate through over indulgence. Anniversaries, weddings, holidays, and birthdays are celebrated with cakes, suppers, alcohol, gifts and parties.
I love to celebrate so this is not an attack on celebrations. But I wonder what it would be like if we celebrated differently. What if instead of feasting and self-absorption we lowered our party expectations and dimmed the noise just enough to hear and see something different this Christmas?
This year many of us are forced to celebrate at a different pace than previous years. There are few office or work parties. Personally, we are not allowed to have our wonderfully large North Central Lighthouse Christmas lunch and giveaway this year. Things are very different.
For many this is depressing and has dampened their Christmas spirit.
I understand this. I miss our Lighthouse Christmas gathering and the Christmas teas and other events of the season. But they are not the cake of Christmas. They are just the icing on the cake. Not the tree, just the decorations. Before I really make a fool of myself with these descriptive images, let me say that there is a core value, a central event that we celebrate.
And yes, I realize that the Bible doesn’t specifically say to celebrate Christmas. It also does not specifically say to celebrate Easter either. But you can’t have one without the other. You can’t have the rebirth through Jesus if you have no Jesus. These are the two greatest events in history and they are worth celebrating and if we do it in a way that brings glory and honor to God, that is a good thing and falls in line with Scripture.
And yes, I also know that no one really knows when Jesus was actually born. Yet He is the light of the world so what better time to honor his birth than during the darkest time of the year? For our friends way down south of the equator, the wonderful light you experience in December is symbolized by the light of Christ.
And finally, yes, I know that Christmas takes place around the time of Saturnalia the Roman festival for their god, Saturn. For the record though, this was celebrated December 17th and finished its course by December 23rd. It was not on December 25th. Different dates and different focus. One was a party in honor of a fake god and one is a remembrance of the real God. Although the way in which both are celebrated are becoming more and more similar.
It is not so much the why we celebrate the birth of Christ anyway. We need to celebrate his birth if we are to mourn his crucifixion only to rejoice at his resurrection. They are all connected.
The issue isn’t that. It is how we celebrate. And how we celebrate is based on one thing only. Who our master is.
If we celebrate by getting drunk and indulging our desires; we use Christmas as the excuse for excess. We are not honoring the birth of Christ. Instead, we are honoring the god of this world. Greed, lust, gluttony, and the like rule our hearts. We may give with one hand and sin with the other. But God wants us to give with both hands.
We are asked to give sacrificially. Sacrificial giving is giving up something for someone. It doesn’t have to be just money or gifts. It is time. It is things of the heart. It is stopping the party merry go round to thank Jesus. To thank God for this greatest gift of all time. It is sacrificing your pleasure to receive true blessings form the Most High who gave us himself that cold night in a manger so long ago.
It is this same God who is coming again. This time as a Warrior King to separate his people from those who reject him. The sheep from the goats (Matthew 25: 31-46).
There are only two choices. Satan or God. If we continue to mock the birth of Christ by celebrating like the ancient Romans, we will end up like them. Dead and forgotten until the great judgment day at which time their eternal destiny will be hell.
So celebrate the birth of Christ gloriously. Bless each other. Love one another. Have a glutton free Christmas.
Merry Christmas and thank you for the support through the year. God bless you!
Andy Becker is a pastor, retired counsellor and former CEO of a Hospice organization. Currently, his wife, Stella and Andy, lead both Lighthouse ministries and Bread of Life ministries in North Central Regina, one of Canada’s poorest and roughest neighborhoods. His book, The Travelers, is available at Amazon.com and Amazon.ca.