It has been several years now, since I originally wrote
“Our Christmas Journey”, and several things have changed for us. Chief among them is that my family (Dad and Mom, my 2 brothers and a sister, as well as my sister-in-law and her family), after examining the issue, have likewise chosen to let their traditional Christmas celebrations go by the wayside.
This means that I no longer have to tick off the minutes of that day in my head, knowing exactly what traditions are being practiced by my family at that moment – without me and my husband and children! It makes a huge difference in my personal sadness level at leaving those things behind. I am grateful for the further freedom from criticism we are enjoying and the greater fellowship available between us, after the strife that was caused by our initial decision several years ago. So, I’m happy to report that having been faithful through the more difficult trials in the beginning, things have gotten much easier as the years have gone by since making this life-changing decision to abandon Christmas. (My husband’s family does still have their own celebrations, but as their family tradition, growing up, was to sit on the beach in Hawaii for Christmas Day, it has been less difficult, overall, for them to understand our “abandonment” of the classic snowy, tree-centric view of the whole thing. There have been good discussions through the years, on that side, too.)
The other big and surprising change since this story was first written has been how hugely popular this same decision has become, among fellow believers! When we took this fork in the road, it was a barely recognizable bunny trail through dense forest, and now it has become a much broader path tread by many! We were prepared for loneliness, difficulty, and misunderstanding, and instead have found an ever-increasing community of like-minded folks who have put similar thoughts together and chosen to follow more whole-heartedly after truth untainted by historical and nostalgic misunderstanding.
More and more, when we explain our stance to others, we are met with comments like “well, that makes more sense!” and “I always wondered about that, too!” Several hardy families have joined us and our predecessors on this journey and come through their own difficult initial pull-backs, finding it easier to breathe on the other side.
The scripture that comes to mind is from Jeremiah 16:19-21: O L-rd, my strength and my fortress, My refuge in the day of affliction, the Gentiles shall come to You from the ends of the earth and say, “Surely our fathers have inherited lies, Worthlessness and unprofitable things.” Will a man make gods for himself, Which are not gods? “Therefore behold, I will this once cause them to know, I will cause them to know My hand and My might; And they shall know that My name is the L-rd.
The Father has challenged us as Gentile believers differently than He did our Jewish elder brothers and sisters. They were given the job of being “a light to the nations,” and holding up the standards of the Torah (G-d’s ways) high, for all to see. Our job as “the nations” is to identify the places our fathers have been in error and set them aside, in order to walk uprightly before our pure, holy and undefiled G-d.
The story of Gideon, from the book of Judges, comes to mind. How hard was it for him to destroy his own father’s idols? So hard that he did it in the middle of the night, when the men of the city couldn’t see what he was about! And as timid as he was with his obedience, the L-rd honored it, and his faith and valor, as well as his honor, grew from that point forward.
If you are among those taking timid (or bold) first steps in this direction, be encouraged! He is faithful, and offers many rewards for obedience, especially in the face of difficulty.
I could go on, with all the lessons we have learned since taking these steps, but I will leave you with one more prophetic scripture that seems apropos for both G-d’s covenant people and His adoptees at this point:
Isaiah 30:20-22 - And though the L-rd gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your teachers will not be moved into a corner anymore, but your eyes shall see your teachers. Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left. You will also defile the covering of your images of silver, and the ornament of your molded images of gold. You will throw them away as an unclean thing; you will say to them, “Get away!”
Where are you in this journey?