The holiday season has officially arrived! Christmas music is everywhere, decorations are being hung, celebrations are being planned, and the weather is as unpredictable as ever (and very cold!)
This particular holiday season gives me great joy. My girls are finally old enough to really understand what’s happening – especially my oldest. She is so excited to be a part of everything from decorating the Christmas tree to watching Christmas movies. And both of my girls shout for joy when they see Christmas lights on the neighbors’ houses! Yes indeed, this year will be the best Christmas yet for the young Howard family.
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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about celebrations and holidays. Why do we celebrate? Why do we have these holidays in the first place? I understand that we are supposed to be celebrating the birth of Jesus at Christmas, but are we really? With trees, lights, snowmen, flying reindeer and a jolly man bringing our presents… are we really celebrating the birth of our Savior?
I must confess that I LOVE snowmen and reindeer. Frosty is one of my daughter’s favorite movies, and I enjoy watching Rudolph at least once every holiday season. But I honestly feel like I need to take the time to do a heart check. In all of the fun of the holiday season, am I really taking the time to celebrate what really matters?
Celebrations and holidays were originally God’s idea.
And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God. – Ecclesiastes 3:13 (NLT)
God gave the Israelites many celebrations and traditions to observe in the Law of Moses. These festivals weren’t just fun ideas – they were part of God’s Law for His people.
I’ve always found it interesting that a portion of the Law of Moses in the Old Testament was dedicated to yearly traditions and celebrations. Why would God take the time to make sure they were celebrating life and all He had done for them? Why was it important enough to include in the written Law?
- God established holidays and festivals so that His people would never forget all that He had done for them.
- Holidays served as reminders of Who they served and what He was capable of.
- Celebrations gave the older generations an opportunity to teach the younger generations about all that God had done for the Israelite nation.
As humans, we need traditions and yearly reminders. We tend to forget otherwise. God knows our hearts and how easily we can lose our focus. Yearly traditions help us to stay on track.
So back to the holiday season… it’s time for a heart check. What am I truly celebrating? How am I using this time to teach my girls about Jesus? I need to be still and reflect. Because in the end, that’s what celebrations are all about. They are meant to remind us of what truly matters.
God intended for us to celebrate with joy in our hearts and to never forget what we are truly celebrating – Him.
Praise the Lord! Praise God in His sanctuary; praise Him in His mighty expanse. Praise Him for His mighty deeds; praise Him according to His excellent greatness. Praise Him with trumpet sound; praise Him with harp and lyre. Praise Him with timbrel and dancing; praise Him with stringed instruments and pipe. Praise Him with loud cymbals; praise Him with resounding cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord! – Psalm 150:1-6
*Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.