Pastor's Pen: Merry Christmas

It seems each year my inbox is flooded with requests to boycott a company for not using “Merry Christmas” or the insistence that I say “Merry Christmas” instead of "Happy Holidays." Perhaps we’ve merely forgotten what the word ‘holiday’ actually means.

Holiday comes from two Latin root words (Evart students in Mr. Haines’ class, pay attention). The first is ‘halig’ meaning holy. Holy refers to something that is sacred, godly or set apart for a purpose. The second word is ‘daeg’ meaning day. So if someone says “Happy Holidays” they are actually saying, “Happy Holy Days”. Christmas is considered by many, especially Christians, to be a holy day. It is a day set apart to celebrate God becoming man. God came to earth in the form of a human to fulfill the mission of proclaiming Himself as Messiah then dying and rising again. He did this so that the rest of sinful humanity, many that would reject Him, might be saved from eternal punishment to eternal life to the praise and glory of God the Father. What an amazing feat! What a great thing to celebrate! And many do celebrate this Holy Day….this Holy Season.

And it is a season, isn’t it? Several holy days of celebration are incorporated into Christmas. There’s Christmas Day with the gift giving. My family always read, and still does read, the account of Christ’s coming each Christmas Day. But this day seems much less holy and greedier when I look back on my own heart as a child. Perhaps a more sacred time is Christmas Eve with the candles proclaiming that the light of salvation has come to shine in this dark world. Maybe visiting a live nativity is a more sacred day. A good holy day may be giving of yourself by volunteering at a soup kitchen, shoveling someone’s driveway or taking the family out to buy gifts and groceries for a family in need. There are many days we can set aside as holy, especially during this holy season.

But what does the Bible say about holy days? In Romans 14 there were disagreements about holy days. Some thought everyone should celebrate certain special days and others thought they didn’t need to. Paul wrote this, “… some think one day is more holy than another day, while others think every day is alike. You should each be fully convinced that whichever day you choose is acceptable. Those who worship the Lord on a special day do it to honor Him … For we don’t live for ourselves…If we live, it’s to honor the Lord.” (NLT)

Our lives are to be lived, not for ourselves, but to honor the Lord. So instead of worrying about whether others are saying “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays”, be certain that you yourself are living every day to honor the Lord because, if you truly know Christ, you “belong to the Lord." Have a Merry Christmas and any Happy Holy Days.