Saturday, January 12, 2013

A Slightly Stressful December

So its been a while. I haven't taken time to write. December seems like it was such a blur. It was a very stressful month for me {Ok so yes, more than slightly}. But good....I think.

Those who know me know that when I read about something I tend read about it.When I teach my kids I try to read everything I can about the subject. My sons like to ask good {hard?} questions and being their mom and teacher makes me want to have as good a handle on tough topics as I can. Sometimes "every thing I can read" is more than other times (depends on my time and interest and necessity). I've never actually known just how much I love to learn until I started homeschooling my kids.

 In December that subject was Rome in the 4th century and Constantine and the beginnings of the Christian "church" that we know today. Well, I became a little frustrated with what I was learning. I won't make this a history lesson but I learned that many {all?} of our Christmas traditions come from a not very Christian culture. And really, Good old Constantine, who saved many early Christians from losing their lives, actually highjacked the whole Jesus following movement and made it into what he thought it should be. I was truly surprised at all the traditions that have been held onto all these years by the church, including Christmas and all that our celebrations tend to include.

I felt so torn because, on one hand, I have always loved Christmas. I love the music, the worship music that gets played in the mall and on main-stream radio all month long. I love the lights and giving and even Santa- historical St. Nikolas is such a lovely example of anonymous giving. I love stockings and evergreens and spending time with people I love. On the other hand, talking about putting "Christ" back in Christmas began to seem so...silly. {Because I'm learning He wasn't even ever there to begin with?} And having our usual birthday cake for Him seemed empty when I read about how His birthday is most likely in the fall and complete with a God ordained holiday to celebrate it. Then there's the Christmas tree and mistletoe and the date itself which all have such ungodly histories.

So in standard Melinda style, I read more and more. I struggled {and am continuing to} over what I want my family's traditions to be. I read about what Christianity looked like before Rome got hold of it. I tried to understand what following Jesus could be like without all the pagan influence.

And I wondered, do I want to follow a random Roman Emperor's vision of the church (even if it's  a 'reformed' one)? Or is the Bible pretty clear about what and how we should celebrate? The more I read the more I saw that this American version of following Jesus is so startlingly like the early Roman one. It hasn't always been like that though. The early settlers here actually fled England to avoid this very thing  {did you know Christmas was illegal in this country until the 19th century?}

All this reading led me to read even more about the Biblical feasts {I wrote about the feasts a while back here}. I'm learning that our God who is a God of order ordained before time began these celebrations to remind us of who He is and what is to come! {this article tells about when Jesus was actually born..and this one talks of His conception!}

But I did say this isn't a history lesson....

So that whole subject distracted me this December. I prayed and read and talked to my husband. I tortured my friends and family with articles and debates.Then the day came and it was nice. It was actually 3 big busy days of visiting family. We had already decided that we'd attempt a slightly modified version of Ann's Radical Christmas. And we did. We gave away more than we got. We bought very few gifts for the kids and we focused on what we already have been given. That part went well. My kids, though they love toys and presents, seem to be getting just how rich we are. They are beginning to see how the focus on things isn't the right one. They put money in Amazima jar and they wrote their Compassion letters with a little more enthusiasm.

Looking back on the month I know I shouldn't have fretted so much. I so very much want to do the right thing, choose the right thing, but I was forgetting to rest in my Messiah. In worrying so heavily about how I was to honor Him, I think I forgot to trust in His leading and in the work He already did and to just rest in Him.

So my plan for the year is to pray for wisdom, to really focus on hearing what He wants us to do. I'll learn more about keeping His Feasts...And maybe {if you're interested?} I'll be back with an update on what we plan to do as next season is closer...

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