A friend of mine and I were talking the other day before the holidays got into full swing. She was talking about how difficult it was to go to the homes of in-laws who were not Christian but who still celebrated Christmas. We both wondered… why? why wold people who never step one toe into a church all year long, go to so much time, and expense, to celebrate a Christian holiday? I think I have it figured out.
I went to the Nativity service at my temple yesterday morning. The NATIVITY service. Not Christmas service. As I greeted some of the members who have been Orthodox longer than I with, ‘Merry Christmas!’ they came back with, ‘Christ is born!’. during Pashca, it is common to hear, ‘Christ is risen!’… ‘Indeed He is risen!’. These words and phrases take on different meanings… truer meanings when used properly. Christmas just means The Mass of Christ. It is a label for a church service. With all the controversy over the phrase, ‘Merry Christmas’ or, ‘Merry Mass of Christ’; can you imagine what the reaction would be if when people said to you, ‘Happy Holidays (really Holy-days) you responded with, ‘Christ is born!’.
I believe the reason why people who do not go to church during the year celebrate Christmas is because it is ‘the American thing to do’. A poll was taken years ago in which 80% of the participants identified with being ‘Christian’ but few actually attended church services on a regular basis, if at all. I think that people call themselves, ‘Christian’ and celebrate Christmas because it is what most of us do in America. Also, the WAY Christmas is celebrated by most people is exactly how one would expect it to be celebrated if people are entrapped by commercialism and have little to no interest in the holy things of the holidays.
After spending the weekend in my Orthodox Christian church and hearing scripture after scripture sung detailing the prophecies concerning, Christ and how they ALL were and continue to be fulfilled, anything outside of this precious living jewel is to me a counterfeit.
Yes, in my former Dox years I went to Christmas Eve services. I lit candles, sang Christmas hymns, etc. etc. and it all held meaning for me but now, with Orthodoxy my understanding, and reverence go so much deeper than they ever before gone. I believe a great deal of the ‘deepening’ is due to learning more about, Mary, Joachim and Anna. The deep awareness the family of, God had before His birth, during Mary’s pregnancy and of course, after His delivery in a barn have all added to my core foundations. They are strengthened, refreshed, renewed. A deeper awareness has been created.
As I watch commercials on t.v. depicting families opening gift after gift (which is to symbolize the gift of salvation given to us by Christ) and yet no images are shown of those same families walking into a church, my heart is heavy with sadness, not just for those in America, but all over the world who have wandered off course, gone of the rails so-to-speak when it comes to the true meaning of this time of year.
If you need another reason to buy gifts, go into dept, eat to much, gain weight, visit family, etc. then go ahead and keep celebrating the Dec. 25th holiday. If, however, you wish to understand what is really going on, what the true origins are behind the modern madness, I encourage you to get plugged-in to your local ORTHODOX Christian church.