Holiday Tree Versus Christmas Tree

22 12 2011

Over and over again, I hear, “It’s not a HOLIDAY tree, it is a CHRISTmas tree.” Where is there a Christmas tree in the Bible? If you have a tree up, you’ve already bought into a secular Christmas. If you buy presents for those who have no need of even one more gift, you’ve bought into a secular Christmas. If you bought a magnet that said, “Keep Christ in Christmas”, you’ve bought into a secular Christmas. I always find “what would Jesus think” a good rule. I often imagine Christ shaking his head when he hears such things, saying, “They do not know me.” I doubt He would even want to have a day of His own where we celebrate His birthday. When I read the Gospels, what I take from them is that we are to be walking the path of Christ every day, not just one day a year. We are to model His example of feeding and clothing the poor, ministering to the sick, being compassionate, being at peace, not making war, forgiving others, etc. If you think writing a check or buying a gift for someone less fortunate meets your obligation for making Christmas about Christ, you would be wrong. Christ would never phone it in. If you are yelling about putting “Christ” in Christmas, how are you spending the rest of the days of the year? Are you focused on things about yourself instead of others?

If only it were this easy to just put a magnet on your car and be done with any other obligations.

Is it wrong to participate in Christmas then if you participate in both the secular and Christian aspects of it? No. Just stop being a hypocrite about it.  While decorating evergreen trees was popular in the 15th century, Christmas trees did not start catching on until the 19th century with the first US trees occurring anywhere from 1777 to 1816 depending on which claim you believe had the “first” tree in America.  The custom is only a few hundred years old.  Christ died 2011 years ago.  Historians will tell you based on the star in the night’s sky, the Star of Bethlehem, Christ was actually born sometime in June.  Does it matter that Christians decided on a date close to Pagan holidays such as Winter Solstice to celebrate Christ’s birth so they could be converted?  No, it does not.  Because Christ would not care.  He would care more about how you are living your life based on his life.  When you are focused on what people call the name of a tree that does not matter, that is part of a secular Christmas, you’ve missed His message.

If you truly want to keep the Christ in Christmas, perhaps this is a better road map for spending your Christmas season instead of arguing about a name of a tree:

1. Take time to be alone and ponder your relationship with Christ, not only at Christmas, but the relationship you have every day.

2. Read the story of Jesus’ birth and note how people responded, Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, Simeon and Anna. Remember that every other day of the year as well.

3. Praise God at Christmas and join others in celebrations of music and praise. Continue this tradition every week of the rest of the year.

4. Help those in need every day. Follow the example of Jesus whose heart was filled with compassion for those who were suffering.

5. Keep your “to do” list as short as possible. Limit your social obligations so there is time for reflection.

6. Use cash when you buy gifts to avoid holiday debt. Invite your relatives to support a charity instead of giving you or your family a gift.

7. Tell others about our Savior.

8. Remember Christ’s church (not a particular religion) around the world. Some are enduring great hardships.

9. Live like Christ every day. Be compassionate, forgiving (especially in mall parking lots, SCHOOL ZONES, harassed sales staff, other people being rude and un-Christ-like). Be sensitive to the people in your own life.

10. Be joyful.