Don’t Miss the Point: Thoughts on the Christmas Holiday

Christmas TreeI’m really struggling with this whole holiday/Christmas tree debate. In principle, I completely agree that the large, plastic plant propped up in the corner of our living room, nearly obstructing the view of the television and tempting the cat with its dangling bobbles, has always been (at least in more recent history) a Christmas tree. I don’t figure I’ll ever call it anything else.

For those on the outside of Christianity, however, a trend has emerged to refer to it as a “holiday tree.” This allows those who don’t celebrate Christmas as the birth of Jesus Christ to center their activities around a symbol of family togetherness and to decorate their family rooms with stylish, seasonal décor, just in time for all of those “holiday” parties. Seen in this light, who wouldn’t want to vacuum up dying pine needles for the entire holiday season?

Do I think it’s logical that nonbelievers would want to co-opt a religious holiday and then strip it of all spiritual significance? I really don’t get it. I’ve never celebrated a Jesus-centered Diwali. It would make no sense! But here’s the real issue: those who insist on celebrating the holidays, decorating holiday trees, or hosting holiday parties, are offering believers a glimpse into their hearts. I would guess that the majority of the time, someone using these terms would be communicating, “I don’t believe in the One you call Savior. I don’t celebrate his birth. I celebrate a secularized version of your holiday, chock full of all the reindeer, presents, family, and eggnog anyone could stand. I just don’t worship your Jesus.”

Does this make me want to respond with a superior attitude, burn their “holiday” cards in a ceremony on the front lawn, or boycott their stores? No! I must feel sorrow for anyone who has not yet come to know Christ as I have. It wasn’t long ago that I was in the same position, arrogantly denying that I needed a Savior or a Lord. Perhaps in my lostness, I still celebrated a religiously inspired Christmas, and even made an annual appearance in a church where I listened to a reading of the Christmas story and sang a few hymns about shepherds and angels and the birth of a mysterious baby. Could I have then been any better off spiritually than those who simply refuse to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas?

So how do we live out the love of Christ at Christmas time, in the midst of a barrage of ever-increasing “Happy Holidays” and “Season’s Greetings?” First, if you happen to be a recipient of such warm wishes, realize a friendly gesture for what it is and strike up conversation with the person. Then, look for an opportunity to share about the birth—and death and resurrection of Jesus, which indeed centered around a different tree altogether. First Peter 3:15 warns, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” Look at the holiday/Christmas discussion as a means for sharing God’s love for the world with those who do not yet know his grace. And don’t get hung up on all of the seasonal tradition and terminology.

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3 thoughts on “Don’t Miss the Point: Thoughts on the Christmas Holiday

  1. Great post, Lindsay. We have some friends that go completely overboard by “correcting” people who say Happy Holidays (one guy even cut off “Season’s Greetings” from a paper he gave Lydia because he thought the message offensive. I had to remind him she was only 3 and can’t read!) lol. It’s hard to find the middle ground of standing firmly for Christ, but still loving the sinner and being loving and kind so they won’t just tune you out or think you offensive! I have to remind myself frequently to think through my responses instead of using that superior “I know Christ, you don’t (that explains it)” attitude. Ugh…the struggle to be humble and meek, loving and Christlike.

  2. Lindsey,
    Your post is oh so true. Though I wonder if they realize that Holiday is actualy “Holy Day”. Hmmmmmmm….Maybe they are more spiritual than they want to admit.

  3. Very good, Lindsay. I was at an angel tree ceremony at the funeral home this past Sunday. The pastor’s talk centered around the Christmas tree and its meaning to Christians. The angel on the top shows the heavenly messengers who told of the birth of the Messiah; the ornaments show the gifts of the Wise Men; the tree itself is the cross(made from a tree) where our debt was paid and our hope for eternity lies. Like your tree, our ornaments should reflect our faith and send a true message.

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