23 December 2020

Happy Holidays

For many Christians, the year is marked by a procession of holidays and "seasons." There's Christmas and Easter of course, but also Advent, Epiphany, Lent, Holy Week, and Pentecost. Many Christians will only recognize the first two holidays on this list. Some will say I've left a few (or quite a few) out. But for some Christians, there are no holidays.

For those who maintain that there should be no holidays, it is often cited that holidays distract from the holiness of God by marking only certain days as special, while others are ordinary. This is a typical argument which stands in stark contrast to the observance of the liturgical year and use of a lectionary, marking seasons and holidays, as well as nearly half of the year as "ordinary time." For these Christians, non-observance of holidays serves as a reminder that every day is holy and a gift from God.

The Apostle Paul esteems both points (Colossians 2). A holiday is a day to celebrate, and there is nothing harmful about celebration (2:16). He contends that the spiritual value of a holiday is that is points to Christ (2:17). The temptation is in thinking of the trappings of the holiday as spiritual or as marking God's favor of one person over another (2:18). In Romans, Paul makes the same point more plainly (Romans 14:5-6). The important thing is whether celebrating or abstaining from celebration, it is done in service to God.

Do not look down on those who celebrate holidays. God established the first holiday on the seventh day of creation (Genesis 2:2-3). The Sabbath is a day of rest, celebrated on the seventh day of every week. Even so, do not look down on those who abstain from holidays, because even Jesus skipped a holiday every now and then (Mark 2:23-28).

Personally, this writer does not celebrate many holidays. I observe the Sabbath by resting on Saturday and worship on Sunday. I find special meaning in Diwali, St. Paddy's Day, and Halloween, and I am probably unique in that regard. These days have religious significance, but they are also days spent with family and friends. For me, the Sabbath is holy because it is spent in service to God, but holidays are special because they are time spent with family.

To all your special days,
Happy Holidays.

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