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Christmas vs Bible... anyone else?

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Maybe I'm just weird, but I prefer the secular elements of Christmas over the Christian elements.

Why? I feel like Jesus should be celebrated EVERY day, not just Christmas or Easter! What makes December 25th so special...especially since we don't know when Jesus was born anyway?

Therefore, none of my decorations include Jesus, or angels or anything of that nature. Everything's snowmen and reindeer! (And...I really dislike the commercial depictions of Jesus and of angels.)

I consider Christmas an American holiday, a western holiday...more than a Christian one or a pagan one.

I was raised pagan, and maybe that's why I like the nature aspect of Christmas (snow, animals, et al) over any supernatural aspects? (I don't even go to church at Christmas...but that is a completely different kettle of fish).

I became a Christian at 16, when my feelings toward holidays in general were already deeply rooted. Being saved didn't make me want to stop putting up a tree or singing "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer." If I don't see Rudolph on TV, I am a sad girl indeed.

So, no, it doesn't bother me at all! But, like I said, I'm weird!

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I like all the aspects.

Rudolph, Christmas music (cheesy and beautiful), The Grinch, Linus telling Charlie Brown what Christmas means, my two Nativity scenes, the ceramic Three Kings that are scorched because my 12 y.o. daughter left a candle burning, the tree we cut down ourselves after looking for days, the stockings, the Christmas Eve candlelight service, the ornaments made by my sister-in-law for each of my kids with their names on them, the ornaments we made one year a long time ago, the construction paper chain my youngest son made in preschool, the Children's Christmas Program, turning off all the lights and just looking at our lighted tree, the lighted Christmas Parade.

I just don't see why we can't have it all. :D

steph

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I like Garrison Keilor's take on it:

"God is great,

He never fails.

And His birthday

Is good for sales."

Dave

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I like all the aspects.

Rudolph, Christmas music (cheesy and beautiful), The Grinch, Linus telling Charlie Brown what Christmas means, my two Nativity scenes, the ceramic Three Kings that are scorched because my 12 y.o. daughter left a candle burning, the tree we cut down ourselves after looking for days, the stockings, the Christmas Eve candlelight service, the ornaments made by my sister-in-law for each of my kids with their names on them, the ornaments we made one year a long time ago, the construction paper chain my youngest son made in preschool, the Children's Christmas Program, turning off all the lights and just looking at our lighted tree, the lighted Christmas Parade.

I just don't see why we can't have it all. :D

steph

I'm with you, Steph! I love Christmas music of all sorts (except if I have to listen to "All I Want for Christmas Is You" one. more. time., I may revolt!) I love Advent season and find myself anticipating the birth of the Christ Child as if for the first time........seeing all the old Christmas specials that have been around since I was a little girl........going to the early Mass on Christmas Eve with all the kids acting out the Nativity..........watching "Christmas Vacation" and opening one present apiece later the same night.......checking my reflection in the 50+ year old ornaments my parents left to me..........drinking hot cocoa and listening to Christmas music with my husband as the lights twinkle on the tree, reflecting on all our Christmases together. :redpinkhe

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Why do we celebrate Christmas just a few days after the winter solstice when almost no one thinks Jesus was born on December 25th? Is the astronomical connection with Christianity's high holy day a fluke or an ancient cynical political calculation. Or, more importantly, does it point us to a deeper truth now almost entirely lost in a world alienated from its own most intimate experience of the night sky?

Before we answer that question we must stop for a word from our solar system.

What, exactly is the Winter Solstice? The winter and summer solstices mark the poles of Earth's temporal cycle as it marches around the Sun. Our planet's spin axis is tilted 23 degrees relative to the line linking us with our Star (that line defines the plane of our orbit as we sweep around Sol). Since, the spin axis direction remains fixed relative to the stars (i.e. it points for now towards Polaris, the "North Star"), the duration of daylight changes as the Earth moves around the Sun. In the northern hemisphere the Earth's axis is tilted towards the Sun in the summer and we have long days (more hours of sunlight). Likewise the axis is tilted away from the Sun in the northern hemisphere in the winter and we have short days. The winter solstice marks that day with the fewest sunlit hours (again, in the northern hemisphere).

At winter solstice the sun marks its southern-most rising. Also on the solstice the Sun's noontime position is it's lowest (closest to the horizon) of the entire year. Each of these extremes are connected (rising position, noontime position and hours of daylight) and all result from the basic fact that the axis of our planet' spin and the axis of its' orbit around the Sun are not aligned.

Which brings us back to, and before, Christmas.

There remains a lot debate about the how Christmas got its' location on the calendar. The popular account makes hay of the ancient Roman's pinning the solstice to December 25th. Early Christians simply co-opted the solstice for the own ends, or so the story goes. To make things more explicit, in 274 C.E., the Roman emperor Aurelian established a feast of the birth of Sol Invictus (the Unconquered Sun), on December 25. Given this Roman holiday and the fact that barbarian peoples of both western and northern Europe would have had their own festivals during this period, it seems reasonable that Christmas is really "a spin-off" from early pagan solar holy days.

There are, however, scholars who do not support this idea. The detractors note that Aurelian was vehemently anti-Christian and may have established his feast after the Christians began their celebrations of Jesus' birth on Dec 25th. The scholars also see little hard historical evidence for the co-opted pagan holiday theory. As theologian Andrew McGowen puts it:

"Early Christian writers never hint at any recent calendrical engineering; they clearly don’t think the date was chosen by the church. Rather they see the coincidence as a providential sign, as natural proof that God had selected Jesus over the false pagan gods."

 

Reading over the debate one finds a definite undercurrent of either antagonism or reactive defensiveness. Sometimes the "Pagan-Co-opt" camp seems intent on proving the political machinations of Christians in stealing the solstice holiday of others for their own ends. The "Anti-Co-opt" camp can seem just as intent on liberating the church's founders from claims of holiday pilfering. What is lost in all this argumentation, however, is the very real loss we have all suffered in the long march of centuries.

Astronomy, you see, has always been destiny. We have simply been able to forget that fact for a century or so.

Most of us we have little first hand experience of the solstice and its celestial message. Living in a world saturated with artificial illumination and run off meticulously accurate, mechanical (or electronic) chronometers, we rarely notice anything that happens in the sky. But the genes we carry in every cell of our bodies know. They remember. For those thousands of human generations — those whose ancestry you inherited — the Sun, the sky and the stars were the only true pageant and its turnings signaled life and death. The sky foretold the end of winter and hunger, it signaled the beginning of warmth and renewed growth. In this way our great, great, great grandparents could not help but see the heavenly wheels turn and they could not help but turn their imaginative creations, sacred or otherwise, to its imperatives.

Seventy kilometers or so north of Dublin stands the Neolithic monument at New grange. The 80-meter wide circular mound was built 500 years before the pyramids and 3000 years before anyone thought about when to hold Christmas. There is only one entrance, a narrow 25-meter long passageway that leads into a vaulted central chamber. Without a flashlight, it is darker than death itself within the chamber. But for a few days each year around the winter solstice the rising sun aligns with the ancient passageway and something remarkable happens. A shaft of sunlight pierces the darkness and, for a few minutes, the central chamber glows in warm ocher — a promise of the light and life to come with the approaching spring. With the massive effort required to build New grange 5000 years ago the forgotten builders of New grange show us that they knew something in their bones that we can barely recall.

The sky has always been our first tabernacle, our first vault of the sacred. That we live in a scientific age does not change this fact. No one need feel offended, defensive or outraged that Christianity's holiest day falls near the turning of the year. It should not be a surprise. In fact it should serve as a reminder. The solstice was always a holy day.

We are born of the world and we are born of the stars. None of our changing perspectives, religious or scientific, can change that fact. We once knew it in our bones. Buried down deep we still know.

This is very interesting and informative. Thank you.

One thought I had while reading it, and I have no way to substantiate it or disprove it, was this - the earliest Christians, mainly Jews, faced terrible repercussions for "forsaking" Judaism. They were persecuted unto death. They often lived hidden in the catacombs, they had to be very secretive about their traitorous belief that Y'shua, Joshua, Jesus was the Messiah. The point is, I don't think they had time or the ease to institute Christmas. They were too busy literally surviving. Just my opinion.

I don't think we are born of stars or of any other created creation. I don't believe God wants us worshipping or following, trusting, or believing in the alleged influence of astrology.

Just an aside - a number of years ago, in the early 70's in think, I was going to have a coworker do my sign. I forget what she called the object she made. You told her your date and place of birth, and she would make an object that portrayed what your personality was and what your life was to be and she put it in writing, according to what sign you were.

She did it for a number of other of our coworkers, but when she got to me, she said she thought I didn't really need it and that she was not supposed to do it. As a very new Christian, I didn't know any better than to explore astrology. I think God held her back from doing my sign. Plus, the authorities in the field of astrology had recently revised the dates that went with each sign. That was a huge thing back then. It was pretty disturbing to think that I had been daily reading in the newspaper, and more or less following the advice to be outgoing or be reclusive or start or not start some new project, based on the stars' positions on any given day and now this advice was no longer correct because the dates covered by each star (sign) had been revised! :confused: :eek:

That really reinforced the little bit of teaching I had had that I was not to look to the stars or to any other created thing for guidance. Rather, I was to seek God and trust God.

I hope no one takes offense and certainly none is meant. This is just my opinion. I just believe that we are to worship the Creator, not the creations He has made.

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I think using a tree as an idol is what God does not want us to do.

Carrying on traditions - treking out to the woods to find a pretty Christmas tree and taking along hot chocolate and making a bonfire to warm up around, putting up the tree, decorating with homemade ornaments that go back to your own childhood and bring sweet memories, making Christmas cookies with your children, hosting a Christmas dinner, opening presents, getting into a snowball fight with your kids, singing Christmas carols at the local LTC facility, watching a Christmas light parade from your front porch while sipping hot chocolate . . .that are simply meant to create bonds with your family are not wrong.

God wants us to work and provide for our family by earning money - however, we are not to make money our idol.

God wants us to enjoy the music made from that guitar which was made from a tree.

God wants us to enjoy this world He created - God created that tree, not some "heathen". ;)

As long as we don't make the tree more important than God, I think we are all ok.

It's worshipping the idol . . not the object itself.

steph

I agree. But, devil's advocate here - why do the tree thing at all, since it comes from pagan origins? Yes, I am all for family and good clean living, traditions and happy memories. But why involve a pagan practice at all? Just asking.

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I agree. But, devil's advocate here - why do the tree thing at all, since it comes from pagan origins? Yes, I am all for family and good clean living, traditions and happy memories. But why involve a pagan practice at all? Just asking.

because regardless of its origins, people tend to personalize such celebrations, which ultimately reflects their beliefs anyway.

man is very adaptable that way.

leslie:tree:

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I agree. But, devil's advocate here - why do the tree thing at all, since it comes from pagan origins? Yes, I am all for family and good clean living, traditions and happy memories. But why involve a pagan practice at all? Just asking.

Because I think the real idols we as a society worship are greed, jealousy, self-indulgence, selfishness, pride, arrogance, injustice, hate, anger, money, power, drugs, sex, . . . etc.

For me - decorating a tree is not worshipping an idol. It's just part of the seasonal traditions.

Paul talks about this in 1 Corinthians 8. "We know that an idol is nothing at all in the world and that there is no God but one".

He also states "Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak. For if anyone with a weak conscience sees you who have this knowledge eating in an idol's temple, won't he be emboldened to eat what has been sacrificed to idols? So this weak brother, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. When you sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall"

steph

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I agree. But, devil's advocate here - why do the tree thing at all, since it comes from pagan origins? Yes, I am all for family and good clean living, traditions and happy memories. But why involve a pagan practice at all? Just asking.

Because it isn't of pagan origin. I explained this earlier.

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Your thinking is completely rational, and that is the problem, ha-ha....most of the world is irrational. Its like I always say, if you put one sane person in a room with a thousand crazy people, the sane person become crazy and others are the norm. I have noticed the same things that you describe, and lets not forget valentines day...also originally pagan. As Christians, we celebrate Jesus every Sunday. I do not celebrate Christmas and Jesus' birthday, i enjoy the holiday as basically any other Sunday, but on steroids. My advice would be to consider things like Christmas and Halloween as just fun activities, forget that they use to have "evil roots." Lots of things have hints of immorality, but that does not make them inherently evil. Like you said, you had some crazy pastors in your day, but that does not make the church inherently evil.

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Hi,

I converted to Christianity two years ago. All through highschool I jumped from church to church and was disturbed at how "worldly" churches were. I did not grow up as a Christian, but I just felt in my heart these things weren't right. And like you, I found a lot of the people I considered good Christians were in fact BIG hypocrites. It wasn't real. I felt like it was more of a "clean" social gathering with some religious stuff mixed in.

I feel the same way you do about Christmas. I do not believe it is biblical. I am not telling you what to do, just saying I share that feeling. My family is very against my beliefs(I only wear long skirts, don't date, don't listen to popular music or watch TV). I don't celebrate halloween either. But that one is more obvious, lol. With that said, I don't meddle with their faith or lack thereof. I'm fine with them as long as they respect me. I don't go out with them on Christmas or give gifts.

I choose, rather, to celebrate the birth of Jesus everyday. I don't see the point of choosing one day that isn't even a command for me to do. Christmas is just another cold winter day for me. I can give gifts to people whenever. I can have a family reunion whenever.

I think its nice that you are honest with yourself about your beliefs and doubts. It is hard to do because the majority of people, I believe, just go with the flow and don't challenge their faith and walk. I really appreciate when people question with a real desire to know what is right, as you are doing.

I don't think God is neutral. Yes the Bible is silent for MANY things, but then again that is what prayer is for. But when you truly understand what it means to be a Christian(and I understand people have different definitions of this, but I am going straight to the Bible), then things like Christmas, politics, Halloween, popculture etc are obvious.... you don't meddle with it because "ye are not of the world".

Here are excerpts from a booklet my pastor wrote. Its on http://www.calledtoholiness.com/writings/scriptural_considerations.php.

Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you.

Galatians 4:10, 11

.....Surely no one would deny that the Bible nowhere commands Christians to celebrate Jesus' birthday. Although one may give many reasons for doing it, it can never be said to be scriptural. The Jews have scriptural commands for all of their holy days and feasts, but absolutely none are commanded for the Christian. On the other hand, this should not be surprising since the Jewish religion is a religion of outward observations and the Christian religion is a religion of inward righteousness.

 

After reading the clear and specific commands in the law of the Old Testament concerning the observance of holy days and feasts, can one seriously believe that God would have been silent on this question if He had wanted Christians to observe Christ's birthday? He spelled out in great detail all of the observations under the law, such as, when to observe the Passover and how to observe it. Would He have done less for the honor of His own Son if He had intended this day to be observed?

........................

 

This is what the American Peoples Encyclopedia sold by Sears, Roebuck, and Company has to say:

"Christmas, originally Cristes Masse, the mass or church feast of Christ, the English name for the season in which the birth of Christ is commemorated. It is apparent, however, that a festival was celebrated at this season long before it was held sacred as the birthday of Jesus of Nazareth. The Saturnalia of the Romans and the winter festival of the heathen Britons were both celebrated about December 25; and later, the Roman festival in honor of the sun-god Mithra (instituted AD 273). From the latter this day came to be known as the Birthday of the Unconquered Sun; and after its adoption by the Christian Church in the fourth century as the anniversary of Christ's birth, this name was given a symbolic interpretation."

 

....

Let us look again at the encyclopedia, "The decoration of churches with mistletoe and holly is also a pagan survival, while the sending of gifts may be traced back to the Yule gifts of northern Europe and ancient Rome." And what can be said for the Christmas tree. According to the encyclopedia its origin is not certain, but some think it has roots in the ancient Druid religion. For my part I think that we can find its origin in the Bible. "For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not." Jeremiah 10:3-4[/i]. Is this not a description of the Christmas tree? And in this place Jeremiah was lamenting the idolatrous practices of the Jews.

 

....Is this Christianity? Is it possible that Jesus can be pleased by this kind of religion? Is Jesus glorified by these pagan traditions even though His name has been attached to them? Is sacrifice better than obedience? May He not properly ask, "Who hath required this at thy hand?" ....

 

OK this thing is REALLY long so if you want you can read it. I hope no one got offended but if you did it wasn't my intention. Yes some of the things are really "strong" but then again to make Jesus sound like a tree-hugger is really wrong because he WAS very strict. :)

 

To the OP, I'll pray right now for you and I really hope God will give you wisdom. :)

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I somewhat agree with you OP

Easter or Resurection Sunday.... I only celebrate resurrection sunday.....

Christmas....well I just say Merry Christday......

Halloween.....All Hallowed Eve...I don't care for that holiday at all...

Cool post

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