7 Thoughts about Christmas from a Messianic Jew—Part 5
Updated: Dec 2, 2021
5. Some believers would feel guilty not celebrating Christmas
Many years ago, when I was on the pastoral team of a Messianic congregation in the U.S., a woman came to me and asked, “Why don’t we celebrate Christmas at Beth Messiah?” She was married to a Jewish believer. She grew up with Christmas. She loved Christmas. In fact, there are many people who would feel as if they were sinning if they didn’t celebrate Christmas—because for them, it is honoring Yeshua, as well as a time to be with family and friends. For them, to not celebrate would be to dishonor Him.
I told this woman something akin to what I wrote a few paragraphs above in Point 4, making it clear that as a congregation, we would never celebrate Christmas—it’s not who we are. But I added, “In your home, by all means, celebrate how you feel best. No one is going to judge you. We have no Messianic police!” I know many Messianic couples where one spouse is not Jewish. For the non-Jews, often there is an emptiness by not celebrating something with which they grew up—that was pure and honoring to God. Several have told me that in recent years they have quietly celebrated. Given that my wife was raised in Israel, she too has no cultural ties to Christmas.
6. Can we talk about Santa and the commercialism of the holidays?
Let me be clear, while it is not my place to judge people who partake in Christmas—I do have serious issues with Santa! You see I am fiercely loyal to the idea that if we celebrate, we do so to the glory of God. Santa Claus takes glory away from Yeshua. And the madness of shopping for Christmas, while good for the economy, is out of control! No longer do people shop to bless others, instead, they run from the Thanksgiving table, to start the season of goodwill, by fighting with others to get stuff for themselves. So don’t confuse my grace towards Christmas by assuming that I embrace all things connected to the modern way in which it is celebrated.
It should be noted that the custom of gift-giving didn’t begin until the 1800s. And it does seem a strange way to celebrate someone else’s birthday. Imagine if 100 people came to your birthday party and started exchanging gifts with each other and you got nothing? If anybody should receive a gift on Christmas, should it not be Yeshua—the One whose birthday we are celebrating? We can do that by supporting ministries that are doing the work of the Kingdom. (hint, hint 🙂 )