What’s a Messianic Christian to do About Christmas? Part 2

Appropriate Christmas Celebration Ideas

What do we Messianic believers, especially those of us with Christian backgrounds, do with Christmas? This has been a question I have been wrestling with as a new Messianic Christian (or, as our Jewish brothers and sisters refer to us, Messianic Gentiles) for some time. Here’s what I’ve come up with:

  1. When celebrating Christmas, focus on G-d’s forever gift to us, NOT what we want from someone else.
  2. Tell your children, grandchildren, or other young relations the story of St. Nicholas, NOT Santa Claus!
  3. Learn the significance of Hanukkah. Look for that information in a future post.
  4. Tell your family members and friends the story of Hanukkah and why it is significant for Messianic Christians/Gentiles.
  5. Explain to your family members and friends that no one knows the date of Yeshua’s birth. But there are clues! (Get familiar with those clues.) I have posted some wonderfully helpful resources in my Torah! Torah! Torah! Group on Facebook.
  6. Keep the Christmas tree, especially with lights. Lose the Santa, sleigh, snowflakes, snowmen, gingerbread men, nutcrackers and anything else that can’t possibly have a tie into the real story of Messiah’s birth.
  7. Keep the Nativity scenes, but know that the Magi didn’t visit Yeshua until he was about two years old.
  8. Keep the angels and shepherds. That happened. Don’t put too much emphasis on the angels. Angelology is a risk you want to avoid.
  9. Look for Christian and Messianic vendors that sell Christian/Messianic toys, videos, books, and games. Be careful of those “Christian” products that build up people as more important than or equally important to G-d. I’ve seen these and shuddered.
  10. Limit your purchases to two gifts for each immediate family member. By immediate, I mean “living in your home.” Grandkids are the exception. But if you and the grandkids aren’t celebrating together, send each one a single gift. Everyone else gets a card. (Note: If you have a college student living outside your home, you can send them money to cover a NEED in your card, or in person, should he or she comes home for the holidays. Also appropriate is a Messianic necklace and/or a Tallit.)
  11. For every gift given to a family member, a matching gift should be given to someone in need. Food (keep this Kosher as described in the Torah)*, clothing, household necessities, G-d-focused toys, books, or videos – the same as you would give to your own children – are appropriate. Donating to Messianic organizations in your loved one’s name is good too.

    *Many animals on the list included in the above Kosher link simply aren’t available in the U.S. market. Personally, I don’t have an issue with beef in general (not just steer), as it appears to fulfill all the scriptural requirements; however, some Jewish families might take offense. Therefore, if you happen to know you are providing food for a needy Jewish family, chicken is your safer meat to give. Above all, avoid pork and crustaceans! These are clearly off limits and have been shown to be problematic for health even today.

  12. Traditionally you won’t find outdoor lighting on many, if any, of our Jewish brothers’ and sisters’ homes. However, as Hanukkah is also known as the Festival of Lights, I see no conflict, especially if you use all white, or blue and white lights. I recommend keeping your lights simple, though. Let someone else in the neighborhood win the Best Holiday Lights award.
  13. Feel free to celebrate Yeshua’s birth on any or all potential holiday times:
    1. Yom Kippur
    1. Shavuot
    1. Sukkot
    1. Christmas (OK, we know that’s not a real date, but there’s an advantage to sharing our belief with others as we corporately celebrate Christmas)
    1. Hanukkah (Again, not a real date, but there’s such significance to Hanukkah that many Messianic Jews celebrate the birth of Messiah then)
    1. Peshat – a far better term than Easter; however, I find celebrating a birth and a death on the same day downright gruesome. (Not to be confused with the joy of death being turned into rebirth. But that’s a post of its own.)
  14. When you celebrate Messiah’s birth, celebrate His BIRTH, NOT His DEATH! There’s a real MIRACLE that needs to be given respectful acknowledgement: G-d humbled Himself and came down to earth as a helpless human baby in a world that both needed Him and rejected Him. This is LOVE! We need to focus on that. This is the long awaited MESSIAH! We need to focus on THAT! This is fulfillment of G-d’s PROMISE! We need to focus on THAT!! Let this be the beginning of the story you share with others. Keep them interested throughout the rest of the year and on throughout the months until Peshat. Two weeks before Peshat, start your story about Yeshua’s last days so that the significance of Messiah’s death and resurrection is appreciated.

    There is MIRACLE in Messiah’s BIRTH.
    There is MIRACLE in Messiah’s DEATH and RESURRECTION.
    And there are significant stories of MESSIAH’s LIFE and INSTRUCTION in between.

    Let G-d’s story be told in a way that the listener can understand:
    a. Birth
    b. Life
    c. Death and Resurrection

  15. There are also feast days that will help you with the rest of the year. Learn and follow those as well. Pretty much, we Christians don’t do that. We should. They are LASTING or PERMANENT ordinances (God’s orders).

I believe this is the way to keep “Christ in Christmas.” We keep Him in our lives and in our hearts each day, one day at a time, throughout each season, day, each moment. That’s what it means to have God with us: Immanuel.

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!

See Part 1 here.

What’s a Messianic Christian to do About Christmas? Part 1

A Little Background on What We Have Come to Know as Christmas:

Christmas was first formally devised by the Catholic Church long after Yeshua’s birth, death, and resurrection.1 Most scholars agree that the winter date of December 25th is erroneous for several reasons. Yet for centuries December 25th has been celebrated as the day of Messiah’s birth.  And now it is a standard throughout much of the world today. Frankly, I don’t know how non-Christians are able to escape the Christmas season.

OK, so we knowingly celebrate the unknown birth date of Yeshua HaMashiach near the pagan time of Saturnalia in an attempt to turn our attention away from pagan rituals and turn our faces toward G-d. I can kind of work with that. And I can kind of appreciate the Puritan’s attempt at making Christmas a time to either solely focus on religious purity or ban it all together.2 But I, along with thousands of others, feel the Puritans went too far. For what better time to appropriately celebrate than the receiving of G-d’s greatest gift to us! More on that in Part 2.

In 1823, Christmas devolved back to a pagan celebration through the seemingly innocent publishing of a poem by Clement Clarke Moore, an Episcopal priest. You know this poem3:

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house

not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,

in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.

In the first stanza, Moore’s poem refers to St. Nicholas, on whom today’s Christmas celebrants base their belief in Santa Claus. Given Moore’s religious background, I dare say he would shudder in horror at what we’ve done with his poem.

St. Nicholas was a real person.4 He was a Bishop of Myra who, after the death of his wealthy parents, took literally the words of Yeshua in Matthew 19:21 and Luke 18:22 that state, “…go and sell all your possessions [everything you have] and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. …”

Had we followed the example of St. Nicholas instead of the frenzied spending and debt-building secular ritualism we currently follow around Christmastime, I daresay even the Puritans would have been satisfied. Sadly, however, the intended goal of refocusing our lives on celebrating the Gift of Messiah has turned back into a pagan ritual after all.

Works Cited

[1] http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03724b.htm accessed 12-21-2019

[2] https://www.history.com/topics/21st-century/the-war-on-christmas accessed 12-21-2019

[3] http://pages.csdgs.net/~u119713267/christmas/twas-the-night-before-xmas.pdf accessed 12-21-2019 — NOTE: This link provides the full poem, as well as some interesting background about Clement Moore. This background seems incongruous to his intent with respect to what Christmas has turned into as we know it today.

[4] https://web.archive.org/web/20101010104847/http://www.stnicholascenter.org/Brix?pageID=38 accessed 12/19/2019


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When Christmas Changed for Me

In 2013 I honestly believed every word I wrote in The Magic Flower. Since then I have learned the value of the Messianic point-of-view, which is very much a biblical view of God’s word! Far more so, I’ve found, than the Christian teachings I grew up with.

Called Out of the Church

I was in the midst of serving in one of the largest Baptist churches in the world as an online prayer host in an international ministry when I felt Ruach HaKodesh (the Holy Spirit) call me out of the church. I have since learned that many of us were called out! I’ll address this in detail in future posts. For now, you can find quite a bit of information that details my reasoning in my Torah! Torah! Torah! Facebook group.

Same Message of Salvation

Let me be very clear about one thing, however: The Good News of salvation is the same! There is definitely some controversy about what we are saved to: 1. freedom from the Torah (most commonly, but not necessarily accurately translated Law) or 2. freedom to be in relationship with Adonai (God, Master), as He instructed us in the Tanakh (“Old Testament”) via His Torah (Holy Instructions). But the message of salvation to be in relationship with God through the life, death, and resurrection of His Son, Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus the Messiah) is the same.

Richness of Relationship

By embracing the lasting ordinances (PERMANENT instructions) given to us by our Abba (Father), the richness of our relationship with Him is vastly enhanced! I would now not be willing to return to the traditional replacement theological way of worshiping Adonai.

However, God controls His timing with each of His children, and I do not wish to presuppose that the work He has done through the church in spreading His Good News is now to be dispensed with across the board. That’s for Him to decide, not me. There is, after all, scriptural precedence in Gentiles being grafted into the Root, while some of the original branches (the non-believing Jews) were cut off. These same Gentiles were cautioned against arrogance toward those cut-off branches, for those arrogant grafted branches (non-Jewish believers) could be cut off themselves, and the original branches grafted back in again. (See: Romans 11:11-24 TLV)

The Magic Flower was written a few years before I was called out of the church and into the Messianic synagogue (shul). The message of salvation is pretty much the same in my story, but at the time I believed Christmas was the time of Jesus’ birth, Jesus was our Savior’s name, and Sunday was God’s chosen day for church worship. Sound familiar to you? Well, in short, there’s much evidence that our Savior’s birth was more likely in September-October, His name, or at least a usable derivative of it, was Yeshua, and the Sabbath has ALWAYS been Saturday, a day to be dedicated to God. Oh, and the word “church” is solely a Greek concept. Substitute the word “congregation” or “community” from the Hebrew kehilah and imagine how much improved our world would be! There’s so much to blog about here!

Bottom Line

The message of salvation in The Magic Flower is still valid. However, it’s no longer a genre that I espouse. I have an inventory of books that need good homes. The books can still be enjoyed with purpose by all English-speaking/reading families. So I’m giving them away. By simply helping me out with the cost of shipping and handling, you can receive as many copies as you’d like. I hope this is a blessing to you.

Love to all,

Kat

This is the first post on my new blog. I’m just getting this new blog going, so stay tuned for more. Subscribe below to get notified when I post new updates.