Oh what fun it is to ride in a one horse open sleigh!
The last two weeks of December has always been special for me over the years. It’s summer time in South Africa and we are blessed with gorgeous weather most of the time. One is also spoilt for choice in terms of holiday destinations. Generally it’s a time when people go on leave and many cannot wait to head to the coast. There is the excitement of planning the holiday, looking for accommodation and getting everything ready before the time. The payment of deposit before and upon arrival at the destination is not so pleasant, but hey, you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. And for a period of two weeks the rush and associated stress of the year is put out of mind.
Shopping malls usually extend their hours over this time, decorate and play old school Christmas songs. Many people wrap up their last Christmas shopping in the week or two before the big day. By then the Christmas tree is up and decorated and kids notice every now and again that the gifts pile is getting bigger. When the grown-ups are not around they check which one has their name on it and try to guess what it could be. If they’re a little bit older they would have hinted about what they would like for Christmas and basically check if the seeds they planted have produced a harvest. For many people the gifts to the children and each other are quite modest but some people really go to town. And when it comes to gifts to your children, if it’s within your means, why not?
On the actual day there is that Sunday feeling in the air. Some people insist on going to a church service on Christmas, but many have moved on from that and rather spend the morning preparing. Those who do go to church can be sure that the message will in all likelihood be that Christmas is actually about Christ. If they are naughty and many are, they will thinking to themselves: ja, ja we know, you said so last year as well.
Undoubtedly the Christmas lunch and handing out of gifts are the highlights of the feast. Some even hand out the gifts the night before. They (usually the moms) come up with some fancy excuse why it is more practical to do it this way, but the simple truth is that they cannot contain their excitement. They cannot wait to see the children’s joy when they open that special gift.
And now for something different. Depending on where you find yourself you may think of it as radical but in reality it’s not. Feasts like Easter and Christmas unfortunately have their origins in paganism and despite the labels used, actually have nothing to do with Messiah. If you hold a Christian worldview and believe that the Bible should be our guiding light then, this presents somewhat of a predicament. You will not find Christmas and Easter in the Bible quite frankly. Sorry. These feasts have been commercialised and ingrained in society by those who prey on mankind’s need to have more and more.
You may say: Did you have to say that now Elijah, do you know that a lot of good can actually come from Christmas? You may continue: even you yourself have mentioned the family time (or time with loved ones), special meals, the gifts so say that? Wait. I have a far better plan. Stay with me.
But for crying out loud, we are celebrating the birth of Christ! In other words, we are doing this in aligning ourselves with the Bible, the very birth of Jesus. It’s happy birthday Jesus! But are we really? It’s worth noting that on the 25th Dec is winter in the northern hemisphere and in Israel. Shepherds would not have out there in the cold with their flocks. It is a sobering fact to remember that Messiah Himself would not have observed Christmas. He would have observed the feasts (appointments/ mo’ed) of YHVH, for example: Passover (Pesach), Shavuot (Pentecost) and Tabernacles (Sukkot).
Tracing the temple shifts of in particular John’s the Baptist’s father one can also take us closer to an approximate date of when Yeshua was born. The celebration of December 25th (not surprisingly) comes from Rome and has to do with the rebirth of the sun-god. See the play on words: ‘birth of the sun-god with birth of the Son’. It also worth noting that Yeshua (Jesus) died on Pesach on the tree and the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) was poured out on exactly the feast of Shavuot “(aka Pentecost). Coincidence?
But I am about to reveal a wonderful plan – you may even you wonder why you have not done so before. See my view is that we all live lives that are far too rushed. We actually need a lot more rest and have a lot more fun, more often. If we wanted to follow a Biblical pattern then celebrating Sabbath on a weekly basis (that’s 52 times per annum) is a better option. For starters, Sabbath is in the Bible and given as both a Feast and as part of the Ten Commandments. So if the Ten Commandments mean anything to you, well then, there you go! We get to connect with our loved ones; we spend time together and shower those who had their birthdays with gifts once a month (that gifts x 12 per annum). Special meals – is that part of this good? Why wait for end of December? Why not do it once a month (that’s at least x12 per year)? And if need be, make the last month of the year extra special.
The celebrations (without old Santa and the Xmas tree) may well overlap but at least you’re on solid ground, Biblically speaking. Look I know you won’t do it, but it’s not a bad idea, don’t you think? There’s nothing religious about this proposal. You need to rest more and have more fun, more often.
Now if you’re a retailer you would probably love my proposal so I leave it now in your hands to spread this good news further.