Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christ's gift to the world

God veiled in flesh
Flesh veiled in familiarity and tradition.
Tradition, in turn, veiled in cheap and shiny decoration.
The glitz, in turn, veils what is nothing but crass commercial and personal greed.
What on earth are we missing?
Unknown source

Is the tradition more important than the birth of Christ?
Can we not see that the current celebration of  CHRISTmas denegrates the true gift from God.

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.

For the last 13 years, since we came back to the states, I have battled in my heart about how Christmas is currently celebrated, especially in the western culture.  I've tried to just focus on my own view of Christ's birth but more and more I feel my heart
hurting as I watch the frenzy.

The roots of celebrating Christmas on December 25 was adopted  by the Roman emperor, Constantine.  He took a pagan holiday, celebrated for, the previous 4000 years and declared it to be the birth of Christ.  This was so everyone could go on celebrating their pagan worship and making his subjects more willing to convert to Christianity, which he demanded by law. 

Below is some information I found stating the true origins. 
             But it turns out that Jesus was not born on December 25th. However, a whole bunch of pagan gods were born on that day. In fact, pagans celebrated a festival involving a heroic supernatural figure that visits an evergreen tree and leaves gifts on December 25th long before Jesus was ever born. From its early Babylonian roots, the celebration of the birth or "rebirth" of the sun god on December 25th came to be celebrated under various names all over the ancient world. You see, the winter solstice occurs a few days before December 25th each year. The winter solstice is the day of the year when daylight is the shortest. In ancient times, December 25th was the day each year when the day started to become noticeably longer.     
            Thus it was fitting for the early pagans to designate December 25th as the date of the birth or the "rebirth" of the sun.
            The truth is that thousands of years before there was a "Santa Claus", there was another supernatural figure who would supposedly visit a tree and leave gifts every December 25th.   His name was Nimrod.  The celebration of December 25th goes all the way back to ancient Babylon.
According to ancient Babylonian tradition, Semiramis (who eventually became known as the goddess Astarte/Asherah/Ashtoreth/Isis/Ishtar/Easter in other pagan religions) claimed that after the untimely death of her son/husband Nimrod (yes she was married to her own son), a full grown evergreen tree sprang up overnight from a dead tree stump. Semiramis claimed that Nimrod would visit that evergreen tree and leave gifts each year on the anniversary of his birth, which just happened to be
on December 25th.  This is the true origin of the Christmas tree.  
from Unexplained Mysteries of the world.  There are many resources for this information.  This is just one.

Bible Scholars believe on the basis of their studies that Christ was likely born in September.  It is not known because God didn't tell us, and in the time of the disciples it didn't seem to be important.
I previously have thought if Christ's birth was celebrated at Christmas, then the pagan worship was diminished.  But, in recent years here in the United States the secular world is becoming more adamant about keeping the birth of Christ out of the day, even banning the word Christmas.  Christians are yelling that Christmas is being dishonored, but:
          Is it possible that the celebration on December 25th is 
          returning to it's true format?
          And is it possible that the celebration of December 25th
          in our present time really does not honor  the Lord?

These are the questions in my heart.

I feel grief at how families go into debt for gifts they cannot afford; the mad buying scramble on the day after Thanksgiving. This year  a man fell in the aisle with a heart attack and people just stepping over him and on him in their frenzy to get a deal. 

I wonder, how many children mostly are thinking of what they want and hope to get.  Do they have a heart to give without thought of what they will receive in this season of gifts? And, then there are the disgruntled receivers of gifts who flood the stores the very next day to return unwanted gifts and get themselves what they want.

In how many homes is the birth of Christ truly remembered, honored and celebrated? Yes, his birth is celebrated in many believing homes.  I've spent 63 Christmas's so far.  In my family we always read the Christmas story from the Bible, Luke 2, and as a family prayed with thanks giving for God's gift to us on Christmas morning.  We went to services at church and sang the old carols - which I love deeply.  But many kids, myself included, really only were eager for the hand out of candy bags after the service.

In our family in those years Dick and I, only ones at home at that time, each got one present.  We were glad for that.  More for us, was the fact mom and dad set aside other things and spent the day playing games with us.  But you know what.  My dad's sister and family started to show up regularly.  She had a very hard life but did I see that maybe she was lonely? Or that we could minister to her and her family as a gift to the Lord?  NO!  I just resented her spoiling MY Christmas.

This is not tell anyone how to celebrate.  Nor it it a condemnation of those who love the holiday.  I sing the songs of Christ's birth with joy and in our service we do remember the gift of Jesus, given us from our Father. 

I am no warrior in this, trying to start a revolution. But, I wish with all my heart that the whole body of Christ would rise up and say - No, Christ was not born on December 25th and so it truly is just a time to give gifts and enjoy the season's celebrations.  If a day is wanted to celebrate the birth of Christ set a day of remembrance.  And not a day to fill the coffers of the world for self gratification.  Seek God's way of celebrating his gift to us. 

Ann  Voskamp in the entry below shares how they as a family celebrate the birth of Christ.  Choosing gifts for those in need, and giving not receiving.   It is to my mind far closer to what honors the birth of God's son, who was born to become our Salvation.

I personally would love a quiet Godly remembrance and celebration, honoring the greatest gift the world has ever received.  Jesus Christ.

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