culture, Humor, The Church

Happy Festivus!

December 23, 2010 • By

Well today is Festivus!  Since it’s a time for the airing of grievances, I thought I’d share this with you.  I wrote this one a while back on one of my “Christians ruin everything” days.  I hope you like it…

Well, Christmas is almost here.  Kinda…

Recently, some close relatives of mine decided they weren’t going to be celebrating Christmas any more.  Many of the traditions we observe around this holiday were actually borrowed from pagan celebration rituals, such as the tree, the garland, yule log, and so forth.  The Mesopotamians worshiped their god Marduk.  The Persians had Sacaea.  And the Romans celebrated Saturnalia.  A few hundred years after the time of Christ, Christians hijacked this time of year to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Quite a strategic move, in my opinion.  Everyone’s whooping it up and having a great time.  Why not make a major, worldwide cultural shift?  Not an easy task and definitely one for the win column if you ask me.  Just think, if we didn’t have Christmas, human sacrifices might still be made to Marduk!

It’s unfortunate that, out of something I can only describe as theological exclusivism, so many believers seek to destroy excellent things by trying to dig up what was before.  “Celebrating the birth of our Savior and the hope of mankind?  PAGAN!  Don’t you know that the Romans worshiped Saturn?!!”  In the 1600s, the Puritans actually had Christmas banned for a few years.  Apparently people were partying too hard and it was time to put the kibosh on all that tomfoolery.  One person I spoke to actually used the Puritan ban as a reason for not celebrating this year.  What I want to know is, what does this constant probing and criticizing do for a person? Does it make them feel like they’ve one-upped the rest of the Body of Christ?  Does it make them feel closer to God?  I was listening to one woman rant about how she can’t stand to listen to modern worship music because the words “I” and “me” were used too often and it wasn’t “God-centered” enough.  I thought to myself, “Hmmmm…Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me I once was lost, but now I’m found.  Was blind, but now I see.”  You’re right lady.  The older songs don’t use “I and me” at all…  Let’s just say, I find it hard to see the life abundantly Jesus spoke about in a brand of Christianity that spends so much energy on “exposing the wrong” in everyone elses faith practices.

Maybe I just tend to cling too tightly to Philippians 4:8, “…Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right.  Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable.  Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”  Aren’t those things true of Christmas?  Families come together, we bless each other with gifts, we feast together, we reflect on the birth of Christ and how he’s changed our lives.  Those sound like some pretty lovely and excellent things to me!  After all, it was God who invented holidays.  He even made it mandatory for the children of Israel to take time out to feast and celebrate to help them always remember what He had done for them.  Isn’t that what Christmas is about?  Always remembering the awesome gift that is Jesus?

I wasn’t there in the 300’s when the Pope established December 25th as the day to remember Christ’s birth.  I’ve never been to a Winter Solstice, and I’ve never yelled “Jo, Saturnalia”.  All that I’ve ever known is the Jesus’ birthday Christmas.  It doesn’t matter to me whether he was born in December, March, or February for that matter.  All that I know is that a great appreciation swells up in me, this time of year, for the one who shed his deity, laid down his rights, and came to earth as a baby.  Luke chapter 2 still moves me to tears, and I love to see the look in my sons eyes as I read it to them on Christmas morning.

As for me, I choose to celebrate.  If your special insight and elevated ability to decode the history of this holiday keeps you from being with family members, exchanging gifts, and singing songs of celebration, then…happy Festivus.  Enjoy the airing of grievances.

Hark! The herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King;
Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!”
Joyful, all ye nations rise,
Join the triumph of the skies;
With th’angelic host proclaim,
“Christ is born in Bethlehem!”

Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Christ, by highest Heav’n adored;
Christ the everlasting Lord;
Late in time, behold Him come,
Offspring of a virgin’s womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
Hail th’incarnate Deity,
Pleased with us in flesh to dwell,
Jesus our Emmanuel.

Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Hail the heav’nly Prince of Peace!
Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings,
Ris’n with healing in His wings.
Mild He lays His glory by,
Born that man no more may die.
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth.

Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Come, Desire of nations, come,
Fix in us Thy humble home;
Rise, the woman’s conqu’ring Seed,
Bruise in us the serpent’s head.
Now display Thy saving power,
Ruined nature now restore;
Now in mystic union join
Thine to ours, and ours to Thine.

Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Adam’s likeness, Lord, efface,
Stamp Thine image in its place:
Second Adam from above,
Reinstate us in Thy love.
Let us Thee, though lost, regain,
Thee, the Life, the inner man:
O, to all Thyself impart,
Formed in each believing heart.

Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King!”


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