Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas freedom

Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to things that by nature are not gods. Now, however, that you have come to know God, or rather have been known by God, how can turn back to the weak and beggarly elemental spirits? How can you want to be enslaved to them again? You are observing special days, and months, and seasons and years. I'm afraid my work for you may have been wasted. (Galatians 4:8-11)
I remember the first time I realized an adult was full of it. I don't mean that they were lying or bluffing or teasing but that they were deeply fraudulent not just in what they said and did but in what they were. It happened just as my friends and I were figuring out the truth about Santa Claus. One of my friends had discussed it with his mother and she, thinking he needed something to fill the Santa-Claus-sized hole in his belief system, told them that there was something called "the spirit of Christmas" that definitely did exist.

That's idolatry. Pure and simple. She may as well have carved a mask with a big smile and hung it on the wall and insisted that her family prostrate themselves and make burnt offerings to it.

Idolatry comes about when we take what is human and project it into the heavens. You can tell it's idolatry when people start to talk as if the "spirit" is something that comes about because of what humans do, say or think. And there is a huge dose of shame that comes along with it. You'll be given the impression that if you don't participate with enthusiasm and joy in your heart the whole thing may fail and it will be your fault. Other people will suffer because you refused to be part of the Christmas spirit.

There is a lot of that about Christmas as we now celebrate it.

Here is the thing: Christmas already came two millennia ago. You don't have to make it come again. And if it doesn't come, meaning that magical feeling doesn't happen this year, or next, or the next ten years in a row, that's okay. Jesus already came and, because he did, you're free. That's why we celebrate.  Don't make it a duty or a burden because, by doing that, you make it into a superstition.

If you are capable of being joyful, cut loose, have a great time. Your freedom begins tonight.

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