Northern Mummy

General thoughts and wittering about all sorts of things

Attitudes to Christmas 1: Should I celebrate?

on November 28, 2012

Note: I wrote this piece as a response to a conversation I was having with a Christian friend about what and why we should celebrate regarding Advent and Christmas, and as such kind of assumes a Christian audience. I’m aware that although I’m a Christian, I’m not a “Christian blogger” in that I don’t blog exclusively about Christian things, and I’m also aware that not all of my readers are Christian. I’d therefore ask you to bear in mind that this presents my point of view as a Christian on Christmas and Advent.

The other thing I have to say is that by the time I had finished setting out my thoughts I had quite a lengthy document in front of me (with subheadings, no less!), so I’ve decided to split it into 3 parts which will be posted over the next 3 days.

Recently I’ve been talking to a few people about what we do as a family during Advent and at Christmas, and the mixture of traditions and ideas which influence our celebrations. Some people believe that the whole of the festive season is compromised by worldliness, materialism and greed and that if Christians don’t make a stand, almost by excluding everything not directly connected with Jesus, they’ll be compromised too.

For years I worried about whether I was doing Christmas “right”. Should I choose those Christmas cards with a Bible verse in, even if I didn’t like the picture on the front (and anyway Luke 2:8 isn’t an especially helpful or evangelistic verse)? Are Christmas trees actually a really pagan thing (although someone said Luther had one)? Is it OK to listen to Now That’s What I Call Christmas or should it just be Carols from Kings?

But I don’t think it needs to be like that. After a long time considering, reading and praying about why I believe what I believe, I really think that a Christian can join in the festivities and celebrate along with those around us without worrying that we’re somehow being ungodly.

It all began when, a few years ago, some friends of mine who attend a Presbyterian church (where Christmas isn’t recognised) challenged me to consider why I do celebrate Christmas. My initial response was to think, well, surely it’s the Christian thing to do – why would some Christians not celebrate it? But of course, whilst the birth of Jesus is recounted in the Bible, there is no command to commemorate the occasion. I’m no church historian, but I gather that an occasion focusing on the birth of Christ doesn’t stem from the first church (that established by the apostles) but was first recorded by Roman bishops in the 4th century. So why do we bother?

Should I celebrate Christmas?
I think it’s good to remember that God came to live among us, in the human form of Jesus, and remind ourselves – and our children – that he knows first-hand the struggles of growing up, pain, illness, temptations and emotions, as well as life’s delights, the joy of relationships with friends and family and the benefits of spending time worshipping our heavenly Father. It really happened – God became a person just like us! And although that’s something we should be remembering every day, it’s helpful to have a specific time of year to focus on that and it makes sense to do it at the same time as millions of other Christians!

That said, we should never lose sight of the fact that God didn’t become human just to experience what life was like for us, or even to reveal more of himself to us (although we can rejoice that he did both of those things). Jesus’ purpose as a man was always to die in our place, accepting all judgement for our refusal to live under God’s rule and enabling our relationship with him to be restored. So for Christians, Christmas is inextricably linked to the events of Good Friday, and of course his glorious resurrection on Easter Sunday, and we should be thankful not only that God became man, but that that man became our Saviour and Lord.

[continued here]

This post is linking up to Tanya Marlow at Thorns and Gold as part of a Christmas and Advent link-up. Please read her excellent post on the significance of Advent and link your recent Advent/Christmas post if you have one.

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3 responses to “Attitudes to Christmas 1: Should I celebrate?

  1. […] have really appreciated reading these words from Helen (whose blog is a real joy to follow). It’s the start in a little series – I love the […]

  2. Tanya Marlow says:

    Thanks so much for linking up! Thanks – really helpful post. It’s really interesting that the Puritans regarded Christmas as hideously idolatrous and tried to abolish it – in the name of Christianity! Like you, I also try and make the most of the season, and remember the incarnation. I like the liturgical rhythms of the year, and the chance to focus on different aspects of doctrine. I also like the aspect of celebration! – the traditions, the fun things. I like that Jesus came feasting, and that we can too! Great to discover your blog. Xx

    • northmum says:

      Hi Tanya – thanks for commenting. Alice sent me in the direction of your blog and I loved your thoughts on waiting and expectation. I’m super keen on all aspects of celebrating Christmas too, as I’ll go on to explain in today’s post!!

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