Stolen Lost Refound

by Aaron

Do you remember the Chipmonks? Yes, I mean THOSE chipmunks. They sang that horrible song in keyboard falsetto, “Christmas Christmas Time Is Here.” I don’t know if that was the title, but it is really all I can remember (well that and someone wanting a hool-a-hoop).
It’s that time of year and that song won’t leave my head, so I figure I better make the best of it and write a blog. So, yes, it is Christmas time and I am going to regurgitate something from a couple years ago because someone asked me if we should be celebrating Christmas (with it’s pagan roots) today.
Christmas (Christ's Mass) was originally (in the most simple terms) a way to give many of the people embracing Christianity something that felt familiar. New believers would be leaving all they knew behind (their pagan festivals) so the church decided to celebrate the birth of Christ in a way that helped many worship God through a tradition that connected better with them.
Trees, ornaments, presents, snow men...all these were later additions tacked on to the holiday, but originally it was simply a way to help people connect with Christ BETTER. It was not an attempt to paganize Christianity (as many opponents today would say); it was a way to get the message to better connect and resonate with those they were trying to reach.
The birth and the death of Christ were always linked in the early church. The Greeks and the Romans had different approaches to “sacrament” and “mystery” though.

  • Greeks, who tended to be more ‘theological’ in the early church leaned toward what was called the ANASTASIS (the day of resurrection) to be the supreme Christian feast.
  • The Romans agreed in principle, but in practice they came to prefer Christmas (the feast of His BIRTH) as the supreme celebration. Roman’s actually invented Christmas.

For the Greeks, the first celebration wasn’t the birth of Jesus, it was Christ’s INFANCY. They celebrated this on (what we would call) January was called the Epiphania (the showing forth) and the feast celebrated how the Persian magi RECOGNIZED Jesus (this actually took place at the age of about 2 years old for Jesus.)
The Christmas holiday of Rome eventually rolled all of this into one event. Christmas came to represent the “showing forth” and the birth in one event (hence the wise men in most nativities, when the actual fact was Jesus was almost 2 when they showed up).
If Christmas is done rightly today, it can be a powerful holiday. The question, for us, comes down to "what is the focus?" Do we focus on Christ, is He better lifted up and proclaimed because of Christmas? Or are we like everyone else and lose the true meaning of the holiday? Romans 8:28 reminds us, And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. ALL THINGS, even a holiday that was stolen, lost, re-found, and lost again. I get to tell people more about Jesus at Christmas then another time during the year.
I think that’s a pretty good deal.