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Good Morning Nanty Glo!

Third Day of Christmas    

Monday, December 27 2004

Jon Kennedy, webmaster

More Christmas questions

Sixth in a series in response to a proposal
that Christmas should not be kept

I ended on Friday by saying we'll keep at these questions as long as it takes, but I'd like to amend that now to "or until Epiphany, whichever comes first."

The questions from the letter begun here on December 15 continue:

Please contrast the many items connected with Christmas with what actually occurred, and the need to recognize the message from Jesus and his immediate disciples.

I'm unsure the point of this question. We could also consider how Herod became king of Judea, and the two-party system in the United States now, or the democratic monarchies in some European countries today, or the dictatorship just overthrown in Iraq. Christmas is a celebration of the incarnation of God in human flesh, not an attempt to recreate the first Christmas, though all elements of the biblical accounts of Christ's birth are used to enhance the celebration. Christmas is celebrated by scores of millions of people who have no or only marginal connection with any church; no church controls how this is done in free countries, nor would any try to do so, other than to make suggestions in sermons or periodicals and, of course, to control its own services and Christmas-related events like children's pageants, the women's group's party, the teen choir program, candle-light Christmas eve service of carols and readings, or whatever helps the community's concentration on the nativity.

The fact that "everyone," especially everyone who has roots in Christianity if no longer practicing their religion, celebrates Christmas, though obviously a source of some dissonance often offers many advantages and opportunities to the Christians trying to keep Christmas holy and devout. The adolescent who comes to visit for Christmas dinner in a Christian home and insists on sitting in the family room glued to MTV while the hosts want to focus the day on its real meaning is one of the dissonances, but his presence in the family on this occasion is also opening him to biblical influences and Christian behavior even if he resists them. When he realizes he needs them, he may find them or go seeking them. In this sense, I believe Christmas is the best pre-evangelism tool ever introduced by the church to the larger community. The letter continues:

By the way, if (Jesus) threw the money changers from the temple area, how do you think he feels about all the commercial profits being made in his name, whether the store says “Merry Christmas,” “Happy Holidays” or “Watch that wall”? Will he not say, “I never knew you. Get away from me, you workers of lawlessness”
(Matthew 7:21-23)?

I think there's virtually no connection between what goes on in houses of worship and what goes on in department stores. And He at least in one occasion seems to put His stamp of approval on making profits (Matthew 25:14-30). Buying presents to honor guests at Christmas parties is far from doing commerce in Jesus' name, in my opinion.

What has happened in Christendom (including, but not only Christmas) reminds me of what happened when Moses was up the mountain receiving instruction. Some of the people below made the golden image and said to the masses: “This is your God who delivered you from Egypt!” That was wrong; Aaron was deceptively misrepresenting God; God did not approve. But if that happened today, modern religious people would say, “It’s OK, just another way to worship God.” But God would say they are corrupt (Exodus 32).

There are people who worship idols, including golden ones, flashy ones (bling bling) and fleshy ones. But I know of no serious Christian who not only disapproves of this, but also opposes it. So I think your take is entirely too cynical. It's judging unrighteous judgment. Furthermore, to make the connection from commercialized American culture to ancient Israel, from Christmas now to the Israelites at the foot of Mount Sinai then, would require seeing America as a theocracy in which everyone believes in God and in pretty much the same way as everyone else. That's a bit of a stretch.

This covers responses to the original letter but I've received a sequel. I'll take that up on Wednesday.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy 

First article in this series | Second | Third | Fourth | Fifth

A complete index of Jon Kennedy's Jonals for 2001 - 2004

A code to live by

Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest.

— Mark Twain  

Thought for today

We can't change the winds but we can adjust our sails.


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