Redeeming Christmas: Yes, Virginia, We Are Free to Celebrate the Incarnation. And Please Stop Whining About Paganism.

img_5182To celebrate or not to celebrate — Christmas. That is the question. I am tired of hearing that it is pagan.

Wait. Before we start, let’s throw ChristMASS out. But not the whole thing!

I’d rather refer to it as the Celebration of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. The Roman Catholic church made a mess…er, mass of it. Protestants do it different. But some Reformed Protestant denominations have held to the Puritan view. They claim the Regulative Principle would not have us add anything to our worship that God did not institute. Thus, since God never told us to make the incarnation a holy day, we simply should not. It is not a part of our corporate worship.

When Divorce Stole Christmas

At one time, I was the ultimate Grinch.  When I was going through my divorce, I didn’t feel like being festive. Our family was split up. There was no Christmas Eve feast with in-laws and no one came over on Christmas Day. It was one of the most miserable times of my life. Joy was at an all-time low. As a new member in the OPC, I researched the origins of Christmas. I know all about Saturnalia and all the other claims ad nauseum. I bought the whole Christmas is pagan thing. Yes, Christmas is pagan when it is celebrated by pagans. But I did hold to that view, albeit briefly. It was convenient to throw away Christmas at that time, so I did. But my heart ached.

From 2004 to 2009, I did not put up a tree.

In 2010, my granddaughter was born with neuroblastoma, a rare childhood cancer. She had two surgeries and three treatments of chemo before her first birthday. After our Lord brought her (and us) through that, I decided it was time to rejoice at Christmas. Thankful to my God and Savior, I picked out my first tree in five years.

Yet I still had guilt when I read my beloved Spurgeon’s Christmas quotes. I was shocked to find that he abhorred the holiday.

Gradually, I embraced my Christian liberty to celebrate the Incarnation in a way that is God-glorifying. I would not want anyone to think I was in some cult, like Jehovah’s Witness or something. As Christians, we should be true light, knowing that Satan is an imitator and false light-bearer. I’m thrilled to see many ministries refuting the Christmas is pagan myth this year.

If ‘Christ is the reason for the season‘ make it so!

If our government takes away the crèche, the cross and the ten commandments, who cares? Let them all go. Personally, I think nativity scenes are graven images. And I prefer to dwell on Christ as King of Kings and Lord of Lords and not the helpless babe in the manger.

What do you fear, Christian? If you are in Christ, He should be the reason you LIVE. Not for one day. Not for one season, but every day. Are not His Words written on your heart? Could Jesus ever be taken from you? The Beast can’t take the Holy Spirit from me. Forget the tangibles. Forget the temporal.

The following is the absolute BEST sermon I have ever heard on the subject of Christmas. Please listen while you finish wrapping those presents or while you bake those cookies. And I do hope, dear Christian, that there are presents and cookies, and mostly the JOY OF THE LORD this time of year.

https://www.sermonaudio.com/saplayer/player_embed.asp?SID=1226111531554

From Grace Gems, Don Fortner writes:

We must not, and I trust do not, worship Christmas trees and lights, or even attach spiritual significance to Christmas day. However, I do suggest that we seize this opportunity afforded us by Divine providence to tell people who Christ is, why he came into this world, what he did, and how they may obtain his salvation. It is no accident that once every year every human being in the world is confronted with the fact that the Son of God assumed human flesh and came into the world to save men.

Jesus Christ stooped down toward us. He took on human flesh to redeem us. We should rejoice over this as the shepherds and angels did in that day!

Virginia, stop believing lies. Sorry, but Santa needs to go. The truth will set you free.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! He Jesus lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he Jesus will continue to make glad the heart of childhood  hearts of His redeemed saints. -my revised version of that famous NY Sun letter

He came and dwelt among us. And that is something to celebrate. With feasting!

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Joyous Incarnation Celebration to All!
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Repost: Stop the Binge and Purge Cycle of a Bulimic Society

This was originally published on January 21, 2016. I thought it might be a good idea to repost while we are being bombarded with holiday junk mail (both snail and email), extended bigger and better cyber sales, and Facebook feeds that make our heads spin. Sit back, relax, and purge it all right now. Don’t get caught up in it this year!

Bulimia is a serious eating disorder where one gorges on food then force vomits it all up. A rather gross disorder, to say the least. I guess it’s the ultimate way to have your cake but NOT eat it too. Definitely not a good way to prevent weight gain.

Binge and purge seems to be the latest societal dynamic. It pertains to more than just food. Why are we so prone to the binge and purge cycle? We’ve just come off a holiday season — an extreme binge. It’s January and all we hear is health and fitness. So it’s purge time, but with that we are getting a bulimic barrage of excess information on diet and exercise. Now we binge on health and fitness in order to purge. Binge and purge.

Information Overload

In a society inundated and obsessed with information, we can easily become overwhelmed. Take this past Christmas. My head was spinning with so many recipe offerings on my Facebook feed. I am a creature of tradition and habit. I love my old tried and true family recipes. But my heart fluttered and my mind raced as I faced my screen —  is that recipe better? I was sorely tempted! Should I add that to our holiday table? It’s bad enough the Italian in me is naturally prone to excess. And worry. Especially the nagging worry that it’s NEVER ENOUGH. Last year’s vow to bake only two kinds of cookies was broken. I baked five different kinds of cookies. IS IT ENOUGH? IT’S NOT ENOUGH.

 DO YOU THINK IT’S ENOUGH??

Does anyone remember a skit with Dom DeLuise lamenting over a full table,”Do you think it’s enough?” (It might have been a scene from the movie Fatso.)

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Oh my, it was too much. My cookie monster sons are now adult men and they don’t live here anymore. Why am I still baking as if they were?

Two leftover pounds of cookies sit rejected and frozen in my freezer.

We binge on food, partying, drinking. We binge on information. Mass media and especially social media feed us too much. No wonder they call it your Facebook feed, your news feed. We are ingesting too much. It is utterly distracting and a hindrance to productivity. Too many visuals of food, fun, fabulous table settings, best looking home decor. All of that can stir up covetousness, jealousy, and yup, gluttony. We are overfed, overindulged, over-entertained, over stimulated. It’s time to stop the binge and purge cycle. Here’s a few suggestions on how that can be done.

Keep it Simple

It is enough! Keep it simple. Three-word phrases that are almost as precious as I LOVE YOU. How about ALL IS VANITY? There is nothing new under the sun. In fact, lots of those posted recipes are from magazines I read thirty years ago.

Some new recipes in a saturated blogosphere may be worth a try. So even though I’m a sentimental traditionalist, I might add one or two new dishes to my repertoire. Okay, just one. That would be enough. And I will print it out. I will not run to and fro in my kitchen from perched electronic device to stove top. I like paper. Especially printed-out recipes that testify of dried dough and spilled cream and various stains of Christmas past.

Martha, Martha!

For those ladies who were overwhelmed this past holiday season by Pinterest’s homemade snowy pine cone wreaths, felt cardinal ornaments, or Epsom salt luminaries, know this: Martha Stewart lives alone. Only she can tolerate her own perfectionism. Her simple is different than my simple. I prefer a humble but happy table over a high-end haughty one any day. Humph.

What’s more — pioneer women did not do crafts. They were too busy churning butter, making cheese, and rendering fat. They kept busy with the craft of homemaking! Do you think Sarah Edwards, wife of Jonathan Edwards, sewed little birds for her Christmas tree? Is this really necessary? Wait a minute. I’m not bashing crafters here. DIY crafts are awesome. I’m just saying, let’s put everything in their proper perspective. Just because someone is talented in making ornaments does not mean we should feel guilty that our homes lack homemade charm. Don’t be deceived by the craftiness of this delusion. Be careful that these things don’t become idols in our lives.

On Demand in Overdrive

We are entertained until we are zombified (if this is not already a word, I just made it one). Technology  can be dangerous when it enables us to binge watch TV shows on demand. What a spoiled society we are when we can have anything we want whenever we want it, and as much as we want. Demanding bingeing brats!

This past New Year’s Eve I came down with a bug that left me miserably congested and tired. Hubby and I declared a veg out day — which is basically, a binge day. We ate leftover holiday food on demand (whenever we wanted it), enjoyed a movie marathon, and sat on our cozy love seat all day. Sometimes we need this. I was sick, after all. Some circumstances render bingeing okay. But don’t make it habitual!

On Demand Under Control

Streaming devices can be a good thing if we sift out the junk and select what’s wholesome. I highly recommend this little device called Roku that Mike and I received for Christmas. Are you paying a high cable bill but watching a few channels? When I realized I watched about 3 of those channels, it was time to cut the cable. Roku lets you enjoy only what you choose to enjoy. There’s even a sermonaudio channel. Using our Roku will result in a good purging of unwanted smut, mindless TV, and mainstream garbage.

Binge Buying

There are binge shoppers who actually get a kind of high from buying. There are extravagant binge shoppers and frugal ones. Part of the high for the frugal binge shopper is nailing that bargain. Thanks to these folks, we can binge watch episodes of Hoarders. Imagine being buried alive by your own junk. But that’s the sad premise of a reality television series. Bingers who cannot purge.

Binge and purge. Where does it end?

We are prone to excess and idolatry. It’s not easy for us as Christians to resist delving into what this wicked world offers. We are told thousands of times everything in moderation.

Philippians 4:5 – Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord [is] at hand.

The bottom line:

Feasting is fine as long as we keep Christ as Master of our feast. If we truly are celebrating Christ, we need to remember that He is present at our table. He provides all our needs, so don’t forget the gratitude.

In keeping with the theme of redeeming our time well, being productive for God’s glory alone, let’s break the binge-purge cycle in our lives.

Consumerism and greed is behind this cycle. Let’s not soak up media lies like listless sponges. We must sift through everything. We must use discernment in a world where the devil goes about seeking whom he may devour (1Peter 5:8). It’s a deceptive, tainted world.

Let’s binge on God’s Word, the Bible, in this new year. That’s the only good bingeing there is. Digest it. Don’t purge it. Write it on your heart:

Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes. — Deut. 11:18

Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: — Proverbs 3:3

Bind them upon thy fingers, write them upon the table of thine heart. — Proverbs 7:3

Pray without ceasing. Especially in a day when true Christianity is increasingly politically incorrect.

And, beware the next binge: red hearts, chocolate and love, love, love. It will attempt to make you feel that your marriage is inferior, your husband is an unromantic boob, or, at the very least, it will make you feel like bingeing on chocolate.

Don’t fall for it.

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