Engage

Holy Days and Holidays

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.

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.

 

 

Gwynne Johnson

Gwynne Johnson currently serves on the Board of Entrust, Inc., an international education and training mission where she authored the Entrust curriculum, Developing a Discerning Heart. She recently served as Co-Chair of the training project, Christian Women in Partnership, Russia and as Senior Director of Women's Ministry at Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, Texas. Gwynne has a M.A. in Biblical Studies from Dallas Theological Seminary. She currently lives in Huntsville, Texas with her husband of 58 years, Don. She works part-time in her daughter and granddaughter's bakery "The Best Box Ever," where she gets paid in cookies.

3 Comments

  • Avatar

    Heather A. Goodman

    Thanks for this reminder–I

    Thanks for this reminder–I love the Advent and Christmas season! (I asked Chris if he could take over the Santa Claus job so I could be Mrs. Claus, but he wasn’t so keen on the idea.)

    In all seriousness, I feel like this is a time of both celebration and pre-celebration–the excitement knowing that someday God will set things right. There will be no more terrorists, no more wars, no more hurricanes, no more depressions (economic or emotional). There will be true peace on earth and goodwill toward men in its fullest sense. That makes me want to celebrate now!

  • Avatar

    Walter L

    A lot of people get really
    A lot of people get really fed up with the holidays every year because of the massive commercial overtones it has to it, especially regarding the gifts we are all supposed to give extravagantly. Well, if you want something different, you can celebrate Festivus. Festivus is an artificial holiday that came to national attention from the TV sitcom Seinfeld. One of the characters on the show made it up out of protesting the regular holidays. Festivus uses a simple aluminum pole in lieu of a tree, and instead of going to Christmas day services, you gather your family together, and tell them all the ways they have let you down over the past year. Festivus concludes with a ceremony called the Feats of Strength, which can be either a hula-hoop contest, or an all out fight. For more about The Festivus for the Rest of Us, check out this article on the payday loan blog. Remember December 23rd-Festivus-put it on your calendar for next year.

  • Avatar

    Emily Good

    Let us not forget, “God so
    Let us not forget, “God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life”. I wish we could remember this year-round instead of just the Christmas season.