Every year I see the Christmas decorations going up on the shelves earlier and earlier. Some stores have trees and ornaments for sale in July. There are Pre-Black Friday deals for the Pre-Black Fridays. And forget about Thanksgiving, it has turned into just another day in preparation for Christmas. All of the consumerism of the holiday has gotten so out of hand to say the least. It is just a way for companies to get their books back in the black after losing money all year long. Even though this has been going on for years, it didn’t really bother me until a few years back. I heard all the preachers saying, “Put Christ back in Christmas” and “Jesus is the reason for the season.” I remember thinking that I have got to make it about the birth of the Messiah. So, off I went to turn my family’s gathering into something more spiritual. I read Christian articles about the symbolism of candy canes, evergreen trees, and Saint Nicholas. I went out and bought a new Christmas tree. It was huge and full, way better than the one we had before. I threw out all of the ornaments that didn’t have anything to do with Christ and replaced them with crosses or angels. I read a book about the Jesse tree, so I made little polymer ornaments to represent the scriptures that counted down to the 25th. Then I bought a little wooden decorative house with 25 drawers to put them in, and a tiny Christmas tree to hang them on each day. After this, I went to the hardware store and bought some plywood and paint. With it, I made some yard decorations of a tree and of a star. I bought some new wreaths to put on all the windows on the front of the house. I did everything I could think of to prepare my family for what was going to be the best Christmas ever!The day after Thanksgiving, we put everything up. My house was like a Christmas explosion! All December, I made sure if people told me “Happy Holidays” I would reply back with “Merry Christmas”. I wanted the whole world to see that Jesus is what this is all about.That Christmas was the most significant Christmas in my whole Christian life, but not for the reasons you may think. The holiday came and went and instead of feeling closer to my Messiah, I felt an emptiness I had never felt before. I was further away.Then, a few months later I was reading Matthew 15 (Mark 7 tells about the same incident.) The Pharisees and scribes had many traditions that were not commanded by the Father. One of them was that they were supposed to wash their hands in a ritualistic way before they ate. I’m not talking about how we wash our hands to keep the germs away, I am talking about something totally different. One source in my study had this to say about the hand washing, “It is looked upon with such rigidity, that those who willfully neglect its practice are said to make themselves liable to excommunication, and bring upon themselves a state of scarcity, and are quickly taken out of the world. Yikes!! (Now with knowing this information I will get back to the Word.) The Pharisees and scribes asked Jesus a question in vs 2, “Why do Your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.” Jesus answers them in the next verse, “Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?” When I read that, I really got to thinking about traditions. What are some traditions I hold to and do they transgress the commandment of God? I began researching the origins of some of the holidays I celebrated, and I was shocked to find out where they really came from. Then I thought, “Well, that isn’t the reason I was celebrating these things and God knows my heart.” Then it hit me like a ton of bricks, it isn’t about my heart it is about His heart! Genesis 8:21 says, “…for the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth…” Jeremiah 17:9 reads, “The heart is more deceitful than all else, And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?” There are so many more places in scripture where the Father addresses the heart of man. I know from God’s Word, that my heart is not to be trusted! Then I thought about what had happened the Christmas before, and my attempts to make a holiday more spiritual. I had just fallen into another form of consumerism. God wants me to worship Him the ways He has told me to worship Him, not how I choose.Since these discoveries, the celebrations in my household have began to evolve. I may not participate in the same ways that I used to, and I pray that my family and friends understand that these changes are in no way done to disrespect or are being done in an effort to condemn anyone, because I love and respect all of you! I am just trying my best to love my Father how he wants me to, and I realized that I may have been going about it in the wrong ways. I hope that you are blessed by this and that the Father places a desire on your heart to search out His truths. God bless you all!
**Edit** The origins of our holidays are a pretty interesting study! I didn’t site any particular websites or books, but the information is out there. It is better when you search it out yourself instead of me telling you. Another good study is looking up in history of the first century church and their practices. Both studies are a blessing!