Have a Happy Christmas!

Dear friends, what follows is me making an impassioned case for Christmas, specifically from an Adventist perspective.

I don’t pretend to know everything there is to know about this topic, but I bring it up because I think some Christians are a bit divided on it. Some think we should definitely celebrate it, while others think we definitely shouldn’t.

I believe we should totally celebrate Christmas, especially as Adventists. I think we sometimes spend too much time focusing on the “pagan history behind Christmas”, and listening to people talk about it on YouTube or researching these pagan customs online, that we get carried away and forget to read what the Spirit of Prophecy has to say about this holiday.

If, as Adventists, we believe the Spirit of Prophecy, I think it’s worth looking into what Ellen White has to say about this topic.

For example, in Adventist Home, she has an entire chapter dedicated to Christmas–Chapter 77. I’m going to share just a few of the headings from that chapter because I think they set the tone for her advice on Christmas, but I encourage you to read the entire chapter later (linked above). It’s not that long, it’s easy to read, and quite clear.

Headings include:

Christmas as a Holiday,

The Day Not to Be Ignored,

The Interchange of Gifts as Tokens of Affection and Books for Children Are Recommended (advice on proper gift giving),

Jesus Not to Be Forgotten,

Christmas—a Time to Honor God,

Turn Thoughts of the Children Into a New Channel…by which, I’m going to tell you right now, she does not mean telling children, “The Christmas tree is terrible! The ornaments represent the heads of the children the pagans would use as human sacrifices!”

We don’t need to dwell on the pagan practices that may or may not have accompanied the origins of Christmas centuries ago! About the Christmas tree she writes:

Shall We Have a Christmas Tree?— “God would be well pleased if on Christmas each church would have a Christmas tree on which shall be hung offerings, great and small, for these houses of worship.” The Adventist Home, Chapter 77.

What chaos would ensue in your church this Sabbath if everyone showed up and there was a Christmas tree there? :’D For some reason, some have attached these taboos to Christmas, when we actually have inspired orientation regarding the day!

We get so busy in spreading the pagan practices attached to Christmas, thinking we are so enlightened, we don’t bother being a light by celebrating Christmas the proper way.

It doesn’t make sense to me to attach pagan customs to Christmas traditions in the name of Christ! It doesn’t make sense to me for Christians to add to the “war on Christmas”.

It doesn’t seem very Christ-like, to take the evergreen tree, which in SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 3, p. 1151 and My Life Today, p. 50 Ellen White uses as a symbol for the Christian, and turn it into something so dark and perverse. That seems more like the work of somebody else.

“Seek to be an evergreen tree. Wear the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. Cherish the grace of love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness.” – My Life Today, p. 50.

Again in The Adventist Home, she addresses concerns over the Christmas tree making us seem “too much like the world”:

“You can make it like the world if you have a disposition to do so, or you can make it as unlike the world as possible.” The Adventist Home, p. 482.

We stand out by refraining from participating in so many other holidays during the rest of the year, and rightly so. But at Christmas, we can stand out by properly observing it and highlighting the true Reason for the season.

Sticking out just for the sake of sticking out is useless. We must be attractive in our faith and show a proper reason for our differences, using this season to elevate Jesus in the hearts of men, to shine brightly in contrast with this world of consumerism, gluttony, and pride.

We miss out on so much by ignoring this day, going directly against the advice given us.

A Tree Laden With Offerings Is Not Sinful and Provide Innocent Enjoyment for the Day are the last two headings, in which she talks about the proper observance of Christmas.

My last point is this one:

“What matchless love Jesus has manifested for a fallen world! If angels sang because the Saviour was born in Bethlehem, shall not our hearts echo the glad strain, Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth, good will to men? Although we do not know the exact day of Christ’s birth, we would honor the sacred event. May the Lord forbid that any one should be so narrow minded as to overlook the event because there is an uncertainty in regard to the exact time. Let us do what we can to fasten the minds of the children upon those things which are precious to everyone who loves Jesus. Let us teach them how Jesus came into the world to bring hope, comfort, peace, and happiness to all…. Let the hearts of all respond with exceeding joy for the priceless gift of the Son of God.” This Day With God, p. 360, “Observing Christmas,”.

History is important, but I think our priority should be to use this holiday season to put into practice God’s love and celebrate the wonderful Gift we have been given. It’s not mandatory to observe Christmas, much less on December 25th, but it’s also not wrong to celebrate it properly.

So I wish you a very happy Christmas and new year with all the joy and light this season brings.

Blessings to all!

Extra: Holiday Presents – Messages to Young People

Video version:

Did You Know: It’s OK to Be Happy

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Are you a driven go-getter, a self-motivated individual who is always ready for the next challenge? Do you follow productivity icons like Jasmine Star and Gary Vaynerchuk whose daily messages are HUSTLE, GRIND, RINSE, REPEAT? Are you getting excited because you’re reading this like a job posting? Then this message is for you.

Daily, you and I are bombarded with messages inciting us to want more. Take a look at the apps on your phone. How many of them help us compare our jobs, productivity, relationships, lifestyle, bodies, etc. with that of our peers? Maybe we can count those apps on our fingers, but can we count how much time they take up in our day or how much space its effects take up in our minds and hearts?

Because there is already so much content towards inciting the hustle and because you already agreed you are a self-motivated individual, I wanted to tell you something new. Bear with me because it goes against other voices out there. Ready?

It’s enough. It’s okay to stop. It’s okay to be content right where you are. It’s okay to be happy now.

Our society has somehow twisted our perspective. We brag about stress and sleepless nights, trying to outdo each other with tales of how busy we are. If you don’t have anxiety, are you really trying hard enough? Doing enough? If you’ve never fought depression, are you really pushing yourself?

“It takes courage to say yes to rest and play in a culture where exhaustion is seen as a status symbol.” – Brené Brown

Maybe you don’t have the job you or your family always dreamed you would, but does what you’re doing right now give you fulfillment and peace? Does it give you time for play and self-care? Then it’s enough.

Maybe your family doesn’t look like what you thought it would by now, but are you surrounded by people who support and love you? Then it’s enough.

Maybe you haven’t traveled or aren’t as worldly as others seem, but do you know all the best things to do and order at the hidden gems in your own town? Then it’s enough.

Maybe your body doesn’t look a certain way, but can it move, heal, and give you the pleasure of seeing, hearing, tasting, feeling, smelling…thinking? Then it’s enough.

Let enough be enough. We need to allow ourselves contentment and not attach to it the ill connotations associated with “settling”. We cannot get so caught up in the pursuit of happiness that we never allow ourselves to arrive at the destination. Happiness is now! It’s today or never.

Take a deep breath and firmly believe: What I am doing right now is enough. I can allow myself happiness.

It is enough to work part-time or to have a side hustle in addition to your 9-5. It is enough to have many friends or only a few. It is enough to travel or to stay in. It is enough to create content, and it’s enough to consume it.

Smile and affirm: What I am doing right now is enough. I can allow myself happiness.

It’s okay to have found your calling by 18. It’s okay to not have found it by 50. It’s okay to be getting that post-grad, and it’s okay to be getting your GED. It’s okay to be single, to be happily married and child-free, or to be planning for baby number x.

Do not stifle the happiness created now with comparisons to what others are doing or to what a different you could be doing.

Think about it: now is all we have. Let’s spend it happy.