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.

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!

Joyous Incarnation Celebration to All!

A Wonderful Wife for a Wonderful Life!

Her mind was made up long before George even had a thought about a wife.

I promised a lighthearted post about a dead filmmaker, a man who wanted to be dead and an exemplary wife. You probably guessed…the dead film director is Frank Capra. The fictional character who wanted to be dead is George Bailey and Mary is George’s exemplary wife.  In a previous post, ‘Yours, Mine and Ours – Not’, I divulged my passion for old movies. My favorite movie of all time is “It’s a Wonderful Life”.  Frank Capra certainly doesn’t rank with my previous Puritans and other dead men, but he is dear to my heart (and he was Sicilian Italian American, like me!).  No, he was not a Reformed Presbyterian,  but the film has some good lessons and Christian morals if your eyes and ears are open.

Interesting fact: “In 1945, Frank Capra visited Seneca Falls in the state of New York to look for inspiration for the town of Bedford Falls.[1] The two towns are very similar as they are both mill towns, they both had a grassy median down the main street (Seneca Falls does not anymore), both communities boast Victorian architecture and a large Italian population, and they both have toll bridges very similar to each other. The locations are both close to Buffalo, Rochester, and Elmira.”– from Wikipedia.

Another reason to love Frank Capra – he was inspired by my beloved New York!

But let’s get back to my main focus: what is the true ideal of a godly Christian wife? My previous post featured J.R. Miller’s The Christian Wife, so let’s refer back to that here. Let’s examine Mary Bailey and see if we can plug her character into Miller’s attributes of a godly Christian wife.

  • Faithfulness – Mrs. George Bailey certainly was a faithful wife. Her faithfulness went beyond mere commitment. She loved George for a long time. In fact, several years before she walked down the aisle with him she said, “George Bailey, I’ll love you ’til the day I die.” Mary was more than committed; she was devoted. So many people stay together because they took a vow. Because they must lie in the bed they made. Because they both agree to peacefully coexist. Commitment is a cold word. I don’t want to be committed. People are committed to institutions. I’d rather be devoted. Mary was devoted.
  • A good housekeeper – Mary Bailey loved that old Granville house even in its decrepit state. She created a honeymoon suite for George when they were unable to travel for that honeymoon. Hens were roasting in the fireplace, posters and curtains were up, candles were glowing. She cleaned that old house up, hung wallpaper, and created a welcoming (albeit drafty) nest for George and her children. We see her bustling about the kitchen on Christmas Eve, preparing a meal while the house was invitingly decorated and ready for company.
  • Generous and warmhearted – Mary’s excellent household management on the meager salary George earned at Bailey Building and Loan was phenomenal. The Baileys had four children who were well-dressed and fed. As for generosity that extended beyond her own roof, remember it was Mary who held up her own honeymoon money when there was a run on the banks. She was willing to help others and sacrifice her dreams of a getaway with George. You can’t get more selfless and generous than that.
  • Keeps up her personal appearance as well as her inner life – Mary always looked attractive when George got home from the office. We never see her in sweatpants. She looked lovely as she accompanied her husband to Bailey Park to present new homeowners with a blessing of bread, wine and salt. As for her inner life, we don’t know about that. But she did direct her children to pray when they saw their daddy looking so troubled.
  • Character – Mary Bailey had strong character and values. She was not materialistic. She wished to live in that old Granville house years before she was actually able to do so. We never hear her complain about her old house, their lack of money and extravagant vacations. Mary is a picture of contentment. She is an encouragement to her husband. It is not made known whether she finds her wisdom and strength in Christ, but I like to think so.

In one of the scenes where George is apparently non-existent, he wants to see his wife. Clarence tells George that without him, Mary became an old maid who works at the library. Let me rewrite the scene. If Mary never met George, I could imagine her curled up in a corner of the library reading the Puritans on marriage – and praying!

christmas-flower-divider-vector_XJ2c_GMary Bailey is a wonderful wife for a wonderful life. Though there is much to love about this movie, It’s a Wonderful Life offers a weak moral at the end – no man is a failure who has friends. I think that’s so lame! No man is a failure if he has JESUS CHRIST. Friends fail us all the time. “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” – Proverbs 18:24.  Jesus is that friend that sticks closer than a brother. And He never fails. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” — John 15:13-15

The world is not immeasurably better because George was born, or I was born. It’s not all about the brotherhood of man. Of course, Hollywood doesn’t include Christ in anything. The world is better because Jesus Christ was born, Emmanuel, God with us. I hope He is your Savior, King and Friend. Merry Christmas!