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  • Pastor Joe

Christmas: Hedonism, Heathen, or Merely a Helping Hand, But Are These the Only options?




Around this time of year, a slew of videos, articles, and blogs appear, all trying to say something meaningful about Christmas. Some will decry the blatant commercialization of Christmas and the loss of its “true spirit.”  Though often left vague, it usually has something to do with families and friendships, listening to nostalgic music, and enjoying some overall good cheer but, ultimately, in the process, reducing the holiday to a kind of wholesome hedonism, but a hedonism nonetheless. Others, more piously minded, will decry Christmas as a pagan holiday, arguing that all men and women of the true faith should reconsider celebrating the holiday due to its obviously non-Christian roots (which, by the way, is patently false, as I hope these articles have shown). Still, others will try to be novel in their thinking about Christmas, suggesting that rather than focusing on the angelic appearances (first to Mary and then the shepherds) that, society should summon up the “better angels of its nature.” These will demand seeing Christmas as a time for recommitting to the never-ending work of social justice, CRT, and non-binarily love; to total equality in all things; and to canceling any and everybody who disagrees with you, regardless of whether it is Christmas or not (which will likely upset those wishing for nostalgic Christmases full of wholesome, good cheer). Christmas rumblings like these may all contain some valid points about the holiday, but they all miss the forest for the trees (the Christmas trees, that is). Because what Christmas is really about is not toys or tiny reindeer, not Teutonic paganism or tribal connections, not twisted affections or trite progressive slogans – no, what Christmas is really about -  is good theology.


So, let's tackle these options one at a time.

 

Firstly, hedonism of any kind, nostalgic or not, is always wrong – we are never to "eat, drink, and be merry" just for the sake of itself. As Christians, our celebrations must always convey a message and point to a meaning. That message is the Gospel, and its meaning points us to a man - The God-man Jesus Christ.

 

The second argument is that Christmas is pagan. Well, we speak the names of pagan gods daily, and most people don't even notice. Wednesday gets its Name from Woten (Odin,) the Norse king of the god, Thursday is Thor's Day, and Saturday is Saturn's Day. Even the word English itself comes from the Norse god Yngvi. In other words, our language bears the marks of a long story. It is a story in which false gods die, and phony religions perish. Their names come to nothing, but One Name remains. The Name above all names that will outlast them all - Jesus Christ.

 

Argument number three- let's shift our focus away from holiday trappings or holy musings and concentrate instead on the misunderstood and mistreated. There is nothing wrong with helping the poor and needy ( that should be on our list all year long), but if all we're doing for our fellow man is giving gifts, or food, or a friendly visit, or volunteering our time, then we aren't showing them the fullest or truest kind of love! as one theologian put it: "It is the height of lovelessness to let men's souls go on to destruction while we provide a thousand charities for their bodies." What have we done if we share our food, money, clothing, and time this time of year but don't share the true meaning of Christmas?

 

So, what is Christmas all about? It's about good theology, and all good and godly theology is always and only about Jesus Christ. He truly is the "reason for the Season," so celebrate Christmas this year and do it with gusto, make much of it, be merry, and most of all, keep Christ in All of It. ~Merry Christmas.

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