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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Legalism Almost Killed Our Christmas

Over the last few years we had struggled with the legalism of abstaining from Christmas while so many people we knew at the time were being insistent that celebrating Christmas was pagan and false worship. We never worshiped our Christmas tree nor did we push Santa as a reality on our children. Then there was Toys for Tots. There was no way we could fully abstain from Christmas and run the local Toys for Tots campaign. I'll never forget the video that inspired me to get involved with the holiday charity hosted by the Marines.

Christmas tree decorating by sisterlisa, on Pix-O-SphereIt wasn't the presents that gave my kids hope, it was the Spirit of Giving that gives my kids hope..hope that there are hearts who still give. The kind of 'give' that comes from deep within the heart, Christ. The One who gives us so much more than pretty wrapped presents. 

There's a splendor and awe that kids have when they get to decorate the tree and my children have always had their hearts set on trimming the tree. It was never about paganism to them. It was about time spent with family. We have a tradition about decorating the tree together. I make hot cocoa with marshmallows and we put on the fun Christmas music. 

Then we watch a Christmas movie together under warm blankets, snuggled together on the couch. It's that time interacting with family and participating in traditions together that builds memories, writing them on the pages of their hearts.

When we raise our children with the emphasis on Christ and family, then traditions set forth by that family are founded on love and wrapped up in fellowship. Many families have adopted traditions created by other families of yesteryear and some families create their own traditions. Grace is knowing we can celebrate family traditions founded on love while not worrying about how others of the past may have had the opposite focus. Forgiveness lavished with grace erases the memories of what previous people did on the same days and gives us mercy as we seek to walk forward in Christ with our families.

Legalism almost killed our Christmas. It also hinders the Spirit that embraces us as we decorate together, bake together, and commune with one another over hot cocoa topped with marshmallows. I know what the origins of December 25th are. I also know what the origins of the days of the month are too (and I still use a calendar). I don't worship pagan gods, attend a pagan basilica, or eat raw meat from strangled animals. There's no need to attempt to sway people into thinking they are doing something as horrid as that. Yet, even if they were, they would be considered the modern day heathens who Christ died to save. Because of the knowledge of Christ, we can celebrate our traditions with our families and not worry about the condemnation that legalism spreads. 

There is no condemnation to those in Christ or in Christmas.

Don't forget to pick up a gift for a gift giving agency in your area. Make a child's Christmas something to remember. :)

Christmas by sisterlisa, on Pix-O-Sphere

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5 kind words:

ThriftyUrbanMom November 27, 2010 at 2:46 PM  

Well said. I have struggled with this myself. I appreciate your post.

Connie Jean November 27, 2010 at 2:48 PM  

Thank you for this. I love it. I am so saddened lately by some that are so concerned about the legalistic views of being a Christian and that we are "wrong" because we don't follow the old Jewish codes, etc etc (stuff I know nothing about sadly).

Christmas is so much more than that. And being a Christian is so much more than that. God sent His Son for us so that we wouldn't be burdened down with legalism/rules/etc. Why do people make things seem like they have to be hard?

I am so looking forward to Christmas this year... spending time with loved ones, making cards and gifts for others. Just enjoying the season and enjoying the reason we celebrate - Jesus. He is what matters. And I think He would prefer we we do that instead of snub our noses and withhold our giving... but hey, what do I know right?

Michelle November 27, 2010 at 3:13 PM  

In Colossians Chapter 2 it says it all. First, it talks about not letting anyone judge us according to certain celebrations but then it goes on and says:

20 "Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: 21 "Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!"? 22 These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. 23 Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence."


Sisterlisa November 27, 2010 at 3:28 PM  

I ventured out to learn about the Hebrew customs and I was following it right into a deeper form of legalism. The original Hebrew customs are beautiful so long as we keep our perspective on Christ and the freedom He gives us. The Law was to show us that we couldn't please God on our own. Even His 'chosen' couldn't live up to it, what makes us 'heathens' think we can live better than the chosen Jews who failed to keep the Law?

The feasts were foreshadows of what our Messiah was coming to do. He is our all in all. It's not Christ plus the Feasts or Christ plus the Law. It's Christ alone.

Trish November 30, 2010 at 5:04 AM  

What a beautiful post! In recent months, I have experienced conflict in my heart by the laws and rules imposed upon our family in areas that are truly preferences, not clear-cut laws of God. At times, it appears that Christians attempt to squash God's grace under man-made rules -- of course, this is impossible, and truth will always prevail, thankfully. Thank you for the reminder to keep our eyes on God, and on the redemption we have in Christ. Staying focused on this beautiful truth gives depth and meaning to our holiday traditions.

Recently, I've been running everything through my Phil. 4:8 "filter" and that helps to minimize the confusion. If it doesn't fall into one of those categories, I don't put much stock in it :-)

Blessings to you,

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