Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A Problem With the Holidays



Yesterday, I attended an Easter service packed with people. Typically, we call them "Christmas and Easter Christians" because these members normally attend services only on such special occasions. The music was upbeat and solidly Christ-centered. We should praise and worship God for winning this victory for us at the cost of His precious Son's life! Our Pastor said, before his sermon, as he looked out at the packed room, "This is a Pastor's dream." Before and after the service, we exchanged greetings with those we saw, "Happy Easter!" and we would respond, "Happy Easter!" After the service, a number of us also exchanged hugs. Some people dressed up more than usual. This was all wonderful.

Some Holidays and Origins

A growing number of our brothers and sisters in Christ have chosen not to celebrate holidays like Christmas, Easter, or Halloween. Period. They cite the fact that these holidays have their roots in ungodly roots. Halloween, for example, has its roots in the occult, with so many of the festivities and their symbols representing demonic influences. Both Christmas and Easter have pagan origins, as they are based on pagan idols. The Christian Church reclaimed these two holidays, setting December 25 as Jesus' birthday. There is no evidence that Jesus was born in the winter. As for Easter, Christians created this holiday to celebrate our Savior's returning to life from the dead. The Church set it for Sundays, in recognition of the fact that Christians generally celebrate Sunday as their "day of rest." Yet those in the Body who oppose these holidays rightly argue that Jesus condemns making a idols of the traditions of man and teaching them as the Gospel truth. They also rightly contend that we are told to observe only two occasions: Baptism and Holy Communion. There are no Scriptural commands to celebrate Christmas, Easter, or any other man-made holiday. Can this have something to do with some of the problems with these holidays, like commercialization and inflated expectations?

Unrealistic Expectations

It seems that these holidays have a way of surfacing feelings through raising the bar on our expectations. We exchange all our holiday greetings, wishing each other a "wonderful holiday," especially on Christmas and Easter. Like so many others, I went to yearly Christmas and Easter services, where the room was packed with churchgoers. Countless "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Easter" greetings are exchanged. Then, when the services are over, many of us gather with some of our relatives if we are on decent terms with them. When I was growing up, in the 1960s and 1970s, in St. Louis, MISSOURI, my late grandmother would have over a hundred people. Most were people I saw only once a year. I would wonder what was the point? I disrelished the gatherings because they involved socializing and making small talk, which are two things I have never enjoyed. As an adult, because of my family dynamics being as they are, the holidays are a trigger to me and just remind me that my family dynamics fall outside of the norms, at least to me. I wonder how many people are triggered by these holidays, even as we wish each other a "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Easter"? There are many people who do not feel like celebrating on these holidays. These reasons vary widely and include losing a loved one in the past year, being unable to conceive a wanted child, having social or sensory issues that interfere with getting into the festivities, having a special needs child, being hospitalized or seriously ill, being estranged from a family member or close friend, or loneliness of not celebrating these holidays out of conviction. When I check my Facebook on any holiday, I see as many missing/murdered cases as I do any day of the year. Need does not take a holiday. The devil is as active on holidays as any other day of the year.

Learning to Become Consumers?

I don't need to say much about how all the holidays have become commercialized. They have become an excuse to spend money that many of us do not really have, to eat food that we know is bad for us, and to even use substances that can kill us or others. As tradition goes, we observe these holidays by often giving gifts to family and friends who do not even need these gifts. This all sends the message to children that the holidays exist for them and that they are consumers. There are so many blogs and articles on the commercialization of holidays that I'm not going into it here. But it all just makes those who are on fixed income, low incomes, or who live below the poverty line, feel left out of being able to "provide Christmas" or "give Easter" to loved ones.

Christians and Holidays

There are factions about these holidays in the Christian community. Both sides, those who celebrate these holidays and those who choose not to observe them, feel as passionately about their positions. We are not commanded to celebrate any man-made holiday, but Christians, as a rule, will keep observing them. My position is that what any brother or sister does about observing man-made holidays is between you and God. It is up to Him to convince you what you should do about it. But none of us have any right to judge those who differ with us on the matter of whether to observe these holidays or not. And if we celebrate them, we need to bear in mind and not forget that not everyone can or feels like celebrating on these special occasions.

Anyone have any thoughts?

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