During a recent M.O.M.S. group meeting at my church, a good friend of mine inspired me with her presentation on how to prepare our hearts and homes for Christmas. Cindy is a queen of hospitality and the only person I’ve ever known who is so organized that she has a “Plan A” Christmas (for holidays spent at home) and a “Plan B” Christmas (for holidays spent visiting family).
Based on Cindy’s suggestion to complete all Christmas decorating by the weekend after Thanksgiving, I thoroughly enjoyed immersing myself in the decorating process over the past few days. As I set up the Advent wreath and nativity scenes, arranged candles and poinsettias, hung garland on my front porch, and then decorated the tree with my husband, I thought about how some Christians avoid these activities because of concern over possible pagan origins. Of course, lights and trees aren’t what Christmas is all about, but is there really any good reason for Christians to avoid them in their celebration of the season?
I like how Elisabeth Elliot answers the question…
My father-in-law, Dad Elliot, was one of those mentioned in Romans 14:5 who consider every day alike. He was pretty consistent about this when it came to Christmas and Easter, but he did consider Sunday (the Lord’s Day to him), different from the other six days in the week. Since he believed that Christmas trees had a pagan origin he could see no sense in having one in a Christian home. I don’t think he actually forbade it, but certainly didn’t help decorate it.
I’ve had a few letters asking me if I “believed in” Christmas trees. Never thought about believing in them, but I do enjoy having one. Celebration and ceremony have characterized the life of the people of God since Old Testament times—even in very little ways. I always put flowers and candles on the dinner table if possible. Though there are usually just two of us, I try to make it an occasion. It’s worth observing. Less frequent occasions are marked more specially. The virgin’s veil, a measured pace, a ring—these are visible signs of the deeply solemn reality celebrated in a wedding. Pink ribbons, showers, silver cups mark a baby’s birth. My Norwegian husband’s birthday calls for a bløtkake, a layered cake soaked with all sorts of good stuff that I wouldn’t fuss with except on
I don’t think we need to rule out everything pagans do or did just because they did them. Christians have the only real reason for celebrating Christmas (or Easter). Why shouldn’t we invest an ancient custom with a Christian meaning? It’s the birthday of the King! What would you not do to make your house festive if He were coming?
Ought we not to signal the good tidings with great joy?
Preparing my home for the birthday of the King. I think I’ve found a whole new reason to enjoy Christmas decorating!
Photo: Uros Kotnik