I love holidays like Christmas and Easter.
When I was young, I recall my dad telling me from time to time:
"Son, if you can cause a person to think about GOD for one second when they wouldn't have otherwise, you've done a good thing."
This has always stuck with me over the years, and I try and practice it regularly. This is one big reason that I give thanks for Christmas and Easter.
There truly is something magical about the Christmas season.
The winter solstice is a very dark, cold, and dreary time of year.
The days are short.
The weather keeps people indoors most of the time.
And the Christmas season, for all its flaws and commercial exploits, brings light and joy and family to the darkness.
People seem to change for the better during the holidays. In general, I find that people are typically more happy, more kind, more giving and more thankful during the Christmas season.
I find similar tendencies in myself also.
For some people, the holidays bring feelings of sadness and depression. But for many, it is their favorite time of year.
Not only do people change, but our culture shifts as well.
Radio takes a pause, if but for three minutes at a time, from playing the popular music of the day to play songs focused on family, joy, sharing, giving, love and, yes, even Jesus.
Yards are decorated with manger scenes, hospitals bear crosses decorated with lights, angels are painted on store windows, and tall buildings have stars on top, reminding us of the great sign in the heavens that informed all who were seeking that the King of the Jews had arrived.
Ah yes, I do indeed love Christmas.
Easter, in America, typically provides far less pomp.
By comparison with Christmas, there are few presents, no noticeable shift in music on the radio, less multi-week anticipation, and I can't think of any lights that are displayed, given the extended daylight provided by spring.
The "decorations" that I have grown to love most at Easter are the crosses in people's yards often with sashes of purple, black and white to remind us of the events Jesus suffered and His subsequent triumph over the grave. (Hallelujah!)
Not everybody views Christmas and Easter like I do.
I discussed this in my post entitled "Easter and the Observing of Days." GOD says that's okay (Rom. 14).
Some have chosen, for conscience's sake, to avoid celebrating these holidays, and that's okay—provided they don't judge those who do. We can absolutely view the celebration of Easter and Christmas differently and remain "one" in Jesus. And we should.
Think with me for a moment about what the world would be like without Christmas and Easter.
Not the actual birth of Jesus or His death and resurrection, but the religious holidays themselves.
Far less people in the world would ever think about GOD. Far less people would consider the gospel message—that GOD loves us so much He became one of us and died in our place so we don't have to.
Christmas and Easter communicate and remind more people around the world regarding these basic truths far more frequently than any evangelist or Christian is able to.
I don't know about you, but if I had a choice to have things as they are, where people celebrate Christmas and Easter as they do today or not at all, I would choose to have it like it is today. The alternative is a much more sad, much darker world, and I'm thankful that isn't reality, because it could have been so.
Someone says, "We remember Jesus' death, burial and resurrection every Sunday. After all, that's what we've been commanded to do."
It's great to remember Jesus' death daily, and to eat His supper on a weekly basis.
As Paul told the Corinthians, "For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes." (1 Cor. 11:26 NKJV).
(Be careful with that last bit though. That "we're commanded to" piece...that's inaccurate.)
I hope this perspective is helpful.
Let's remember to give thanks for holidays like Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
After all, they shift our thoughts toward GOD, if but for a moment, and that's a good thing.
How do you view Christmas and Easter? Is it a joyous time of year for you? Do you celebrate these religious holidays? Why or why not?