The weather is cooler, the days are shorter and the garden is dormant. All signs of creation herald the onset of fall and remind us that winter is soon to follow. The sign in front of the store was nestled in some straw bales with smooth orange pumpkins set to each side. From the sign itself, smiling snowflakes encouraged the passerby to purchase a variety of products from within the store with the message “be prepared for the holidays.” The arrangement of the sign and decor was simple enough. White snowflakes on an arctic blue background made the sign simple enough to read. What was striking about the appeal was the undeniably generic quality of its message. “Be prepared for the holidays.” Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas all fit under the admonition of those five words. As nature announces the changing of the seasons, the society around us announces the arrival of the holidays. How can the Christian be prepared for the holidays?
Halloween, with its roots in the occult has long been shunned by God’s people. 1 Thessalonians 5:22 instructs us to “abstain from all appearance of evil.” Our homes are free from jack-o-lanterns and other Halloween decorations. We do not use this date as a reason to tend the graves of our deceased loved ones. None of us would anticipate the night of October 31st as being an opportunity to communicate with the spirits of the dead. Christians simply do not participate or identify in any aspect of Halloween, but are we prepared for Halloween?
American culture has blinded the eyes of society to the real meaning of Halloween. The friendly looking witches and the smiling skeletons are a mask hiding the real basis for this “holiday.” As a separated people, are we prepared to speak to our neighbors about their children dressing in costume to go trick-or-treating throughout the neighborhood? Are we ready to question a business owner about the poster in the storefront window advertising a “haunted house?” When our children ask “what is Halloween” can we give them an answer that identifies the conflict of two spiritual kingdoms? While we cannot participate in the evil that surrounds this day; if we are not ready as God’s people to relate to those who believe Halloween to be an innocent evening of children’s activity, are we prepared for the holidays?
The Puritans were perhaps the first people to designate specific days for giving thanks to God for His good providence. These somber affairs were spontaneously declared when it was perceived that God had shown mercy and favor amidst the hardships of frontier life. The pattern declaring certain days to be used in giving thanks to God for specific events continued with the continental congress declaring a day for the purpose of thanksgiving to God following the American victory at the battle of Saratoga in 1777. George Washington took the opportunity to proclaim a national day of thanksgiving upon the ratification of the Constitution of the United States. In 1941, President Roosevelt signed a bill making the fourth Thursday of November an annual observance of thanksgiving on a national basis. Does Thanksgiving Day as it is observed in America glorify Christ? Hardly.
How should the christian prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday? The Bible instructs us that “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1Thes 5:18). It seems reasonable that we can offer thanks on the fourth Thursday of November with the rest of society. What is the standard of preparedness that God expects in relation to Thanksgiving? Ephesians 5:20 places the mark for the Christian as “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ…”
Unlike Halloween, there is nothing inherently evil about Thanksgiving Day. While fallen society and nominal christianity observe this token day of thanksgiving with feasting and football, we must be prepared to remind them of the original motivation for Thanksgiving. If we follow the first pattern, we will declare a time of thanksgiving whenever we recognize the goodness of God being extended to us. With His mercies being new every morning, we can observe thanksgiving as a year round event. Are we prepared to share with others the reality that God is worthy of our worship, praise, and gratitude on Thanksgiving Day and every other day of the year?
With Thanksgiving Day past, most people actively anticipate Christmas. retailers open early on the Friday after Thanksgiving to “assist” shoppers in making preparations for the coming holiday. Christmas is unique in that even in a post-christian culture such as America; there is still the smallest remnant of the true meaning Christmas left in our society. The garishly lit outdoor displays, the tasteless robotic Santa in the store window, and even the hectic pace of holiday preparation are attempts of the Evil One to continue to conceal the real meaning of Christmas. While many stores will not play the words, the tune of “Joy to the World” is mingled with songs that present a much more secular message. They believe that such music is necessary to get shoppers into the “holiday spirit.” Satan has so effectively corrupted society’s perception of “christmas” that it is easy to sympathize with those who have “opted out” of a christmas observance of any kind. Who wants to be associated with the excesses that identify a “good Christmas” in American society?
Sometimes it is easier to just abstain than it is to participate in any measure. However, the choice to not participate does not release us from the need to relate. To properly relate to christmas we need to prepare. Satan’s efforts to obscure the true message of Christmas must be countered by our efforts to carry that message to those who have fallen prey to Satan’s lies. This will require that we prepare. can the glorious reality of Luke 2 replace a story of flying reindeer in some child’s mind? If God gives you the opportunity, are you prepared? If some wellmeaning friend asks you what you want for Christmas; can you share with them how it came to be that you received the greatest gift ever given to man? Are you prepared? The world’s Christmas preparations focus on self.
As God’s people, our holiday preparations are to focus on Christ. Despite Satan’s efforts, there remains in the heart of many people the knowledge that Christmas is “somehow” about Christ. Are you prepared to help someone clear away Satan’s counterfeit Christmas with all its vulgar self-centeredness and reveal to them the One who came to earth and gave of Himself; that man would have a way back to God?
Be prepared for the holidays.
~ Barnet MO