I’ve always wondered how you extract Christ out of Christmas. Isn’t this indicative of what our culture has been doing for many years – take a “religiously” oriented day and dismantle it so it bears no resemblance to its original design?
Perhaps the Dutch have it right – December 6th is St. Nicholas Day. Wikipedia references St. Nicholas in this way….
Saint Nicholas (Greek: Άγιος Νικόλαος , Agios [“saint”] Nikolaos [“victory of the people”]) (270 – 6 December 346) is the common name for Nicholas of Myra, a saint and Bishop of Myra (Demre, in Lycia, part of modern-day Turkey). Because of the many miracles attributed to his intercession, he is also known as Nicholas the Wonderworker. He had a reputation for secret gift-giving, such as putting coins in the shoes of those who left them out for him, and thus became the model for Santa Claus, whose English name comes from the Dutch Sinterklaas. His reputation evolved among the faithful, as is common for early Christian saints. In 1087, his relics were furtively translated to Bari, in southern Italy; for this reason, he is also known as Nicholas of Bari.
The historical Saint Nicholas is remembered and revered among Catholic and Orthodox Christians. He is also honoured by various Anglican and Lutheran churches. Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of sailors, merchants, archers, and children, and students in Greece, Belgium, Romania, Bulgaria, Georgia, Russia, the Republic of Macedonia, Slovakia, Serbia and Montenegro. He is also the patron saint of Barranquilla, Bari, Amsterdam, Beit Jala, Siggiewi and Liverpool. In 1809, the New-York Historical Society convened and retroactively named Sancte Claus the patron saint of Nieuw Amsterdam, the Dutch name for New York City. He was also a patron of the Varangian Guard of the Byzantine emperors, who protected his relics in Bari.
For his help to the poor, Nicholas is the patron saint of pawnbrokers; the three gold balls traditionally hung outside a pawnshop symbolize the three sacks of gold. People then began to suspect that he was behind a large number of other anonymous gifts to the poor, using the inheritance from his wealthy parents. After he died, people in the region continued to give to the poor anonymously, and such gifts were still often attributed to St. Nicholas.
The Dutch celebrate with gifts on St. Nicholas Day and leave Christ in Christmas – namely they take time to focus their attention on Jesus – the reason for the season – on December 25th.
How can we celebrate Christmas without worship? Didn’t worship permeate the visit of the wise men in Matthew 2
“…….we saw his star in the east and have come to WORSHIP him.” Matt. 2:2
“….they bowed down and worshiped him.” Matthew 2:11
How precise the text is! The wisemen do not worship Mary, nor do they worship King Herod. They worship the one “BORN king of the Jews – Jesus who is the Christ.”
Study the theme of WORSHIP – trace the origins of this word and track through the New Testament its usage. Some years ago in a meeting with some Jehovah’s Witnesses, I was drawn by God to Hebrews 1:6 “….When God brings His firstborn into the world, He says, ‘Let all the angels of God WORSHIP HIM!’
May God enable us as teachers to guide others to worship this Christmas. To WORSHIP or not to WORSHIP – that is the question! Really there is no question who understand who really was born in Bethlehem. O come, let us adore HIM!