How Should We Celebrate Christmas?
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Many years ago when Christianity was just beginning to emerge as a strong influence in South Korea two girls were window shopping. In one of the shop windows there was a Nativity scene with Mary & Joseph, the baby Jesus, the Star, the Shepherds and the Wise Men. One of the girls was overheard to say to the other: "Look, they're even bringing religion into Christmas."
Since that time South Korea has become strongly Christian and I suspect that few people today in South Korea would not realize that Christmas is a Christian festival.
I'm sure that the challenge for South Korean Christians, for us here in New Zealand (NZ) and in many other countries is this: How can we keep Christmas in a godly way? With secularism increasing it is very difficult to celebrate Christmas in a Christian way.
In NZ, Christmas for many people is the saddest time of the year. People get into huge debt over buying presents they can't afford. Things like drunkenness and sexual immorality are said to be at an all time high at this time of the year.
The Salvation Army says that it is the most difficult time of the year for the people they are trying to reach and to help. In NZ there are usually more people committing suicide at this time of the year than at any other time.
For many people it is the loneliest time of the year. Many Church and secular programs for people stop over the Christmas break and people have nothing to do and they think that everyone else is having a wonderful time.
So how should families who are trying to walk with God celebrate Christmas? I believe we must keep emphasizing to our children that we are celebrating the birth of Jesus into our world. Jesus the Son of God, came into our World to die for us so that we can have our sins forgiven and have eternal life.
To celebrate Christmas by over indulgence in such things as food, and expensive presents is giving our children the totally wrong message.
As a family we attempt to make Jesus the focus of our Christmas celebrations. The property where we live is jointly owned by myself (Colin) and my eight siblings. All my siblings are Christians as are most of their children.
It is wonderful for our children to be able to spend time with other cousins who are also Christians.
We had a special time on Christmas night without being over indulgent. We sang carols by candle light. We had a time of remembering all the wonderful things the Lord had done for us over the past year. Things such as babies born, a wedding, improvements in health and family members able to get employment in difficult economic times in NZ.
We also shared some of the sad things that had happened like our sister-in-law Maggie dying, but even in that situation the Lord has been with her children and their families.
After sharing the good and sad memories over the past year we then had a time of prayer thanking God for being so good to us and being with us.
After this time I then read a modern day Christmas story about an amazing answer to prayer.
There are other things that we did on Christmas night, like one of the cousins dressing up as Santa, each person having a glass of grape juice and a very enjoyable fun game which involved low cost gifts.
In summary we have noticed that the Christian families who keep their focus on Jesus are the ones who get most blessed at Christmas. Such families don't think only of themselves, but are concerned for the plight of families in other countries who are in desperate situations. Such families will not spend lavishly on themselves, but get great joy in being like Jesus to others.
We get far more joy out of knowing that we have greatly helped others through buying gifts for them through Tear Fund. (see November newsletter)
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