Holy Days and Holidays

Gwynne Johnson's picture

Even as economic turmoil swirls around us, the holiday season arrived on schedule.  Terrorists across the ocean create anxiety. Yet, thanksgiving with all its trimmings, feasting and football, slipped by.  Now we anticipate Christmas, or in our politically correct world, a happy holiday.  Interestingly, when we wish “Happy Holidays” we really wish one another a “Holy Day.”  Webster defines holiday as derived from the Old English, hāligdæg, or holy day. The world without Christ doesn’t realize and we too often forget that the God we worship loves celebrations and traditions.  He understands the value and meaning of joy and the strength it provides.  Notice from Nehemiah 8 God’s desire forHis people to discover joy in celebration.  Joy from an unending source unimpeded by economics.  Joy in the God of celebrations. “Nehemiah and Ezra the priest the scribe, and the Levites that taught the people, said unto all the people, This day is holy unto the LORD your God; mourn not, nor weep. For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law.  Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our LORD: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength.  So the Levites stilled all the people, saying, Hold your peace, for the day is holy; neither be ye grieved.” Nehemiah 8:9-11.The people, convicted by the words of the law, began to weep. But God through Nehemiah instructs the people to celebrate, feast and share with others, as the day is holy and in celebration discover the joy of the LORD as their strength.  Over and over in the Old Testament we see God initiating celebrations to remember and provide His strength through joy for His people.  Laughter and love are great reminders that we have a loving Father who cares for us.As we enter our holiday season, I’m hoping to celebrate this truly holy season with great joy.  After all, we celebrate Jesus’ birthday.  Carols proclaim His coming.  We get to celebrate the greatest story every told. When we sing Joy to the World we are announcing that the Lord is come indeed, let earth receive her King, let every heart, prepare Him room. Perhaps no other season of the year gives me a greater opportunity to model how the joy of the LORD is my strength.  Perhaps no other season opens the door to conversations about Jesus with friends seeking strength in a time of terror and uncertainty.  May more hearts find room for Him this Holy Day as they discover the true source of joy.  

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