Wednesday, October 31, 2012

So I Think I Have Been Wrong

Actually, I'm pretty convinced of it.

And in the process, I believe I have probably confused my children for LIFE.

OK. Where do I start?

We've been at our new church for over a year now. Our old church was, shall we say, um...a bit more progressive than we were comfortable with. It was no longer anything like the church where we grew up. I will give more specific examples later. Our new church is very much more in line with our beliefs. (And with the Bible, in our opinion.)

Our new church makes us realize how really progressive our old church was.

Somewhere along the way, I missed learning this. Which would explain why I am just learning it at age 41.

Wow. I don't even know how to start explaining this to you.

So a few years ago, I started noticing a trend of Christians celebrating Old Testament festivals and feasts. Like Passover, for example. You can order things for these celebrations on Christian websites. The way Christians "do" these feasts and celebrations is a bit differently than how the Jewish people in the Old Testament did them, I think.

Honestly I don't know too much about why Christians would observe those days. My first thought was, "Well that's a strange thing to do----those things are part of the Old Testament and that doesn't apply to us as Christians." It has become trendy to do so, however.

And there is more to it than just celebrating something from the Old Testament---which New Testament Christians did not do. There's also the fact that it's all mixed up and crazy. This article I found on google will highlight what I's the taking of an old Jewish feast and mixing it up with Christian beliefs. It's assigning new "religious" meanings to traditions that may or may not have even been part of the original feast as ordained by God.

Basically, people are making up a holiday here.

The New Testament mentions nothing about Christians celebrating Passover. Or even a hybrid form of it. So should we be doing that?

So just know that those thoughts were swirling in my head.

THEN, I started hearing about how Christmas and Easter should have no religious significance.

What? How sacrilegious! How unheard of! Why would you take Christ out of Christmas? Why would you make the Easter Bunny more important than Jesus Christ?

Seriously, the whole idea of celebrating these holidays with no religious significance at all floored me.

This is the very thing I have fought against for many years!! We, as a new family, with very little thought to the consequences, started off doing things just as they had been done when we were growing up. We hunted eggs. The Easter Bunny left treats. Santa visited. We read 'Twas the Night Before Christmas....on and on. That's how our little family started doing things when Sweetheart was born.

But then, I started to feel guilty. I mean, these traditions have pagan roots for goodness sake! I read. I learned. Hunting eggs? Bad. Christmas trees? Bad. Every single tradition seemed to have a pagan root. I didn't want my children growing up thinking it was all about eggs and candy and Santa and presents! I wanted them to know the "real" reason for the holidays.

I'm telling you what I thought here.

So for many years now (probably 6 years), I have worked to make the "real" meaning stand out while minimizing all the pagan stuff. I got Resurrection Eggs. We stopped dyeing eggs. I gave the girls Bibles and Bible covers for Easter treats instead of "bunny" stuff. We learned the names of Christ and made ornaments out of them and hung them on a tree. We decorated with more nativity scenes and less Santa. We learned all about Christ's final week. We did crafts. We read Bible passages. We made this a part of our homeschool. A part of our evenings. And very much a part of our celebrations.

And now I think that was wrong. I was wrong.

During the time I was working to overhaul our holidays to the "real" meaning, our old church started doing some things I wasn't comfortable with. In our old church, there is a large wooden cross beside the "stage" for lack of a better word. It sits there 365 days a year. It's like part of the building and I really didn't even notice it all that much. Then a few years ago, they started draping black cloth on it on Good Friday. Then it would change to white on Easter Sunday. There was purple in there too. I didn't know where all this was coming from so I came home and researched and found out it was all related to Advent. Advent is not something we grew up doing. Or celebrating. Or whatever. And I don't read about it in the Bible so it's not something we do. It's made up, in my opinion and there's too much symbolism to keep up with!

Then they started "the flowering of the cross." Everyone would bring fresh flowers and they wrapped chicken wire around the whole cross and stuck the flowers in on Easter Sunday during the worship service. Where are we getting this stuff from???? This in NOT in the Bible!! We started going out of town on Easter. It was easier than trying to explain all these things to the girls when we couldn't make sense of them ourselves.

Later they started having "Good Friday" services at the church. We did not attend. Everything was getting really, really religious. But not really biblical.

I stamped my foot (inwardly, of course) and said, "This stuff is not authorized in God's Word! The church should not be doing this stuff!"

But I forgot to look at our own house. I'm sharing this with you, dear blog readers, because I have brought you along on my journey to overhaul our holidays. And now I won't be doing things the same way because I have come to the understanding that these holidays--they aren't in the Bible either.

Just as Advent is not taught to us by Jesus, and we have no record of the apostles or first century Christians doing such things, neither is there authorization for making the birth of Christ and his death, burial, and resurrection into religious days. These holidays are NOT found in scripture.

Of course I have always taught my children that December 25th probably wasn't Jesus' real birthday. But if God wanted us to celebrate that day, that event, He would have given us instruction on how He wanted that done. And when!

Now don't get me wrong....Christ's birth and his death, burial and resurrection are events I am VERY thankful for!! We have been instructed to remember Christ's death, burial, and resurrection on the first day of the week when we meet together. We have not been given instructions about remembering Christ's birth.

It isn't that I think remembering these things is's that they are not religious celebrations ordained by God in His word.

Folks, we have made some stuff up here. And it's all confusing and mixed up with pagan stuff. It's a mess. Just like those new "Christian Passover" feasts. There is this constant struggle between secular and Christian and it needn't be! Christians don't need to waste their time fighting to "keep Christ in Christmas" because He hasn't asked us to celebrate it anyway!

Now, about celebrating Christmas with no religious significance. How freeing!! I feel a huge sigh of relief coming on. No longer do I need to struggle with this. Christmas is simply a day to get together with our family and loved ones and give each other gifts and enjoy a meal together. And that's it! That's all it needs to be!

I don't have to spend the weeks before Christmas doing a countdown where we read a scripture each night about the coming Messiah from the Old Testament prophets. We don't have to crack out the Resurrection eggs and have a devotional all week prior to Easter.

I can quit trying to make these celebrations all about God because He hasn't asked me to do that anyway!!!

Because these are not celebrations He commanded us to keep.

Do you feel the huge weight lifted off my shoulders?

Now hear me...we are stil going to celebrate Christmas and Easter around here. Easter has never been a really big one with us anyway. Christmas I love. Thanksgiving I love. We celebrate Independence Day too. There is nothing wrong with having a day set aside to spend with your family and enjoy food and fellowship and gift-giving.

But we will no longer be celebrating them as religious holidays. I hope I have made sense in my explanation of why.

Because now I have to explain this to my girls.


  1. Just to toss one more wrench in this:

    I recently had the opportunity to take part of a class about the Gospel in the Feasts where I learned about all the connections between what the Jewish people do with their feasts and how it ties to the Gospel message. Brilliant, fascinating stuff!

    Here's the kicker: Again and again, Mark would point out things that Jews do in their celebrations--that he did growing up--that are not anywhere to be found commanded in Scripture... but that point to Christ. The line he used was something like, "And this is an example of God giving wisdom to men..."

    So, sure: Feel free to strip religious meaning from your holidays. But I think doing so may remove some of the beauty and insights God is teaching us, even if it's not part of Scripture.

    Just something to think about!


  2. We had a messianic jewish guy come to our church and give a seminar on a passover meal and wow was that eye opening how it pointed to Christ. And he kept saying that the jewish people weren't sure where some of the traditions came from. And also there might be reasonable evidence to say that Jesus was actually conceived in December (based on when John the Baptist's father was serving as priest, among other things). I can see Brenda's point about forcing religious significance onto stuff, and how it feels contrived. But God is not about drudgery so a winter feast to celebrate Jesus being incarnated is I think an ok thing to do. Even if the traditional nativity scene is totally false :D !

  3. We've thought for several years that trying to incorporate a religious significance into holidays was wrong. Either you celebrate Christmas as Christ's birth or you celebrate it by giving gifts as a secular holiday. What part of giving thanks for Christ's birth involves eating and giving and receiving gifts? Easter is even worse. To celebrate it as a religious holiday is fine, even though I think as Christians we celebrate that all the time. But to say we're going to go to church and celebrate His resurrection and then go home and hunt easter eggs never made sense to me. So we have always just celebrated holidays as secular holidays that hold no religious meaning whatsoever. We don't make a big deal about it with the girls, we just don't talk about them with any religious connotation. And when they ask what "He's the Reason for the Season" means we just tell them that if other people want to take a certain time to remember Christ, that is just fine!

  4. I think you said it all when you said "trendy." That's all some of this is. Some of it, however, seems to be a fascination with Catholicism (I was raised Catholic). I see that everywhere now. I don't like that -- seeing the protestant churches "telescoping" back in to the Catholic church (picture somebody folding a telescope back up). I guess those who were persecuted centuries ago for criticizing the Catholic church died in vain.

    As for the holidays like Christmas and Easter...well, my husband and I were Church of Christ (the non-instrumental kind popular in your area) for almost 10 years, and they celebrated those holidays as strictly secular ones (with Santa and the Easter bunny), never as religious ones, because they are not mentioned in the N.T.

    After we got saved, we tried celebrating Christmas and Easter as religious holidays (and I think it is ok to do that if that's what you want to do), but it seemed forced for us because we had been so used to celebrating them strictly as secular holidays, for family.

    We've pretty much gone back to that way of celebrating them. And, like you said, it felt like a weight was lifted. We are not obligated to celebrate these in any way other than the way we want to, as religious or secular or both, as we feel we want to, as our freedom in Christ.

  5. Brenda, I have to respectully disagree with you here. I think the Bible does have an answer for us on this issue. In Romans 14:5-6 Paul tells us, "One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks."

    I think we have the freedom in Christ to celebrate holidays in any way we wish to (or even to make one up for that matter)as long as it brings glory to God (1 Corinthians 10:31 says "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."). I don't think God disapproves of any attempt on our behalf to show him honor no matter how pitiful our attempt may be.

    I think Matthew 15 can also be used to argue against the idea that "because the Bible doesn't say we should, therefore we shouldn't."

    I like what this article has to say about why Christian's should celebrate Christmas

    Blessings to you as you seek to know the truth!

  6. I think Matthew 15 proves that! Substituting "the precepts of man" for "the commandments of God" equals vain worship. We cannot make up our own ways to worship God.

  7. And I don't believe Romans 14 is a license of freedom--but rather a reminder to not let such disagreements destroy the unity of God's people. Therefore I should not look down on those who have a different understanding--if we are both in Christ.

    As for me, Galatians 4 talks about the trap of turning back to the old way of doing things---keeping Sabbaths and Holy days and feasts. Paul fears he has labored in vain!

  8. Goodness sakes, Brenda. Great post, simply because it has caused me to dig deep into this ever since I read it yesterday. :)

    I am admittedly ignorant about the history of Christmas and Easter (their pagan roots, or if they were man-made Christian substitutes for pagan celebrations,) but let's suppose we strip the religious intentions from these days, however they were invented. I wonder, if a Christian celebrated these days secularly, if one would be closer to observing pagan ideas by default. Of course, the it could be said as well, as I think you are saying (correct me if I am wrong): observing these days as reminders of Christ's birth and death and resurrection are not mandated, so therefore, can become works-based faith instead of grace-based faith-- substituting man-made celebrations on certain days of the year for true worship 24/7.

    You mentioned Gal. 4 and Sabbath. What are your thoughts about observing the Sabbath? Hebrews 4, particularly 4:9-10 comes to mind.

    Thanks again for provoking me to dig. :)

  9. Well if Paul does not think it should destroy the unity of the church over this issue, nor look down on one another because of different opinions, then it seems like a non issue. In Romans 14 it doesn't sounds like Paul is worried about whether a day is celebrated or not, does it?

  10. oh, yes... many things we do stem from pagan beliefs - even candles on birthday cakes. ultimately, we believe it's what you make of it & the intention behind it. for instance... halloween - a hot topic among many christians. our family simply turned it into a positive, collecting $ for unicef. and refuse to feel guilty about slapping candles on a cake, lights on a christmas tree, or hunting eggs at easter. ;) you're right, though... we shouldn't look down on those who have a different understanding. ;)

  11. I'm super late to the game, here but I wanted to chime in! We celebrate the Passover and have been for 15 years... my Dh about 10 years longer than that - before it was "trendy" ;-) The last supper was a Passover meal - and Jesus said "do this in remembrence of me" - which the church has taken the elements from (the unleavened bread, the wine) and make it into communion service, instead. All the feasts of God point to Christ and His coming, sacrifice, and ultimate return... they are fascinating to learn about and see God's purpose in. I don't see anything wrong with a Christian celebrating them. And there are references to them in the NT for sure! Especially in Acts. Give it a study, it's really pretty cool! :)

  12. I think you are halfway there. Jesus The Christ was sacrificed during the Passover feast. He was resurrected right after. "Easter" is the celebration of the fertility god Istar. Xmas is the celebration of the pagan god saturn and it was common to murder Christians and Jews during this celebration. It has nothing to do with the Messiah of the Bible.

    Both xmas and easter are mentioned in the Bible as pagan holidays and the Israelites and NT Christians were told to advoid learning the ways of the heathen.

    The OT commands the Israelites to celebrate these feasts forever. The feast were a foreshadowing of what was to come. There are a few still unfullfilled, but several have been fulfilled by Jesus The Christ (for instance, The feast of Tabernacles (His birth)and The Passover.

    I understand that you have found out that Jesus has no part in these feasts, they are a mixture from the Roman Catholic Church. They just changed the name so Christians would come back to them, or of course, die.

    Keep going, you are almost there.

  13. @Carlotta:

    "Both xmas and easter are mentioned in the Bible as pagan holidays". Scriptures please? Don't just invent things to support your argument without at least some scriptural reference.

    Christendom was indeed progressively corrupted from the 3rd century onward when the powerful Roman Emperor Constantine (not a Christian but supposedly converted on his deathbed according to Church traditional legend) decided that Jesus was God himself and at the Council of Nicaea the first stage of the pagan Trinity belief was formed at the pain of heretical execution by the forces of the State if anyone disagreed; Constantine was not going to put up anymore with the in-fighting, particularly as it was now seriously affecting the political stability of his empire.

    The addition of the Holy Spirit to this 'Holy pair' was added, not at that council, but some decades later, after even more laborious speculations by the so-called 'Church Fathers'.

    Mary, who is barely mentioned in the Bible apart from giving birth to Jesus and once corrected by Jesus, was then made into the Ever-Virgin Mother Of God by the then-powerful Roman Church conveniently lining up with the goddess worship that the pagans were fond of.

    If Mary was Ever-Virgin for the rest of her life (a fact we don't know), Matthew 23:55,56 makes interesting reading when it says: "Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary, and his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us?"

    These ones were not 'spiritual' brothers and sisters at that point in time of Jesus' ministry. Some have suggested that it may have been a Jewish expression to refer to cousins in that way. But once again, it could also mean literal brothers and sisters without any contradiction occurring; Mary only had to be virgin for the Christ to be born to fulfill the earlier Bible prophetic verse of Isaiah 7:14 (referenced by Matthew in Matthew 1:23) - "Therefore Jehovah himself will give ​YOU​ men a sign: Look! The maiden herself will actually become pregnant, and she is giving birth to a son, and she will certainly call his name Im‧man′u‧el" - thus giving birth to a man, free of inherited sin from a earthly imperfect father.

    As for the Sun halos around Christ and the apostles in Medieval pictures, yes, there has been unearthed a late 2nd-century mosaic in El Djem, Tunisia of the Roman (and Hellenic) god Apollo with exactly the same sun-worship symbol surrounding his head.

    Carlotta, what exactly makes you think that your form of Christianity, out of all the others, might be less exempt from the leavening corruption that crept into Christendom over the centuries and which has led to people these days celebrating some birthday which just so happens to be the same day as the Roman festival of 'The Birthday of the Unconquered Sun' (Sol Invictus).

    Jesus gave one specific command on the night before his death and that was to remember his death and what it meant. So what do the masses celebrate? His birthday, of course. Party-time and present-giving. Even if some are serious about his birthday, whenever that was (certainly not December - the shepherds are simply not out then), what's the point? His birth was just a means to an end; surely it was his death that meant everything and the reason why he specifically spoke to his disciples about his blood and body being ransomed as a sacrifice on their behalf. Pagan Easter primarily celebrates coming back to life emphasizing 'fertility'.

    "I think you are halfway there"? Hmm. Remember that we are all dots down here on earth and you are one too.

    To not celebrate a pagan festival because of one's conscience so as not to offend God is admirable in my opinion and also quite brave for standing for one's convictions after having done careful research.

    "Make sure of all things; hold fast to what is fine." (1 Thessalonians 5:21)


I don't get to talk to a lot of actual grown-ups during the day, so your comments make me really happy! :)