Speaking of Christmas, I came across not too long ago an article titled Should a Christian Celebrate Christmas? that presents a detailed case against Christians celebrating Christmas. The main argument presented is that Christmas, being rooted in pagan origins, cannot be tweaked enough to become a fit, acceptable way to celebrate our Lord's birth. I am not quite sure how to respond to it as I did find some of the arguments presented sensible, though not all of the points are equally persuasive.
I suppose that if this season somehow presents opportunities for the Christian to more deeply reflect on the implications of Christ the Savior coming into this world, and if this reflection can lead to greater thanksgiving and appreciation in one's heart for all the Lord has accomplished for us, then Christmas would be of benefit. But if on the hand, Christmas becomes all about traditions that bear no true connection to the real Spirit of Christmas and becomes a sentimental, worldly, materialistic substitute for true celebration of our Lord, then the author of this article may have a point.
Steve Camp's recent article, What's the Answer for a Culture in Decay, Decline and Despair? Jesus, Immanuel, God with us, reminds me of what is supposed to be at the heart of the Christmas story-- the miracle of the incarnation of God as Jesus Christ, coming to be our Immanuel, "God with us". Steve goes on to reflect upon the implications of Jesus coming to be with us and giving us His gospel message. Am I faithful to the call of Jesus upon me, His absolute claim on my life, or am I deceiving myself about truly following Him? Steve rightly points us to the gospels to read, and to challenge ourselves, about these important questions.
Peace on earth? During a season when it is easy to get all caught up in endless activity, it may also be easy to look the part of a happy Christian at peace, but not really be living in that experience. Dan Edelen reveals some of his own struggles with this in Staples of Christmastime: Peace.
My friend Charlie Lehardy has been doing a wonderful series of posts: Christmas Encounters 1, 2, 3, and 4, which I only discovered today... I feel like I've been asleep.
Meanwhile my other GodblogCon 2005 friend, Mark Daniels, pastor of Friendship Church has a terrific Advent series on spiritual gifts. I especially like the advice he gives in today's post in the series, Opening Your Spiritual Gifts. I could especially relate to what he was saying about being a "closet perfectionist" who spends a wee bit too much time categorizing and labeling my gifts, when I ought to get busy using them (ouch)!