This post is part of my ABCs of Homeschooling Through the Holidays series. To see all posts in the series, click here.
We are in the middle of the holiday season. I find myself overwhelmed at times because my family and I cannot escape pumpkins, scarecrows, cornucopias, turkeys, red, green, lights, sparkles, snowmen, glitter, trees…
And the list goes on.The media and commercialism bombard us with what “society” considers appropriate holiday traditions. Our Facebook feeds and Pinterest boards become clogged with cute turkeys made from peanut butter cups and pumpkins with thanks written on them.
While there is nothing wrong with cute pilgrims and Christmas movies, I wonder how our families might change if we simply celebrated Jesus every holiday.
This is not a blog post telling how Christians hijacked secular holidays. That’s another conversation for another day. But really, how would your holidays change if everything you did reflected scripture?
Thanksgiving and the Bible
What exactly is thanksgiving? Is it truly a time set aside for family and reflection of the blessings we have received throughout the year?
Let us go to the Bible and read a few verses from Leviticus and the Psalms:
Leviticus 22:29 ~ “When you sacrifice a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the Lord, you shall sacrifice it so that you may be accepted.”
Psalm 50:14 ~ “Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving And pay your vows to the Most High;”
Psalm 50:23 ~ “He who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honors Me; And to him who orders his way aright I shall show the salvation of God.”
Psalm 69:30 ~ “I will praise the name of God with song And magnify Him with thanksgiving.”
If we really want to reflect the scriptures this Thanksgiving, then I think there is a word that must be present. Can you figure it out from the verses above?
Absolutely we should be praising God’s name and telling of all the wonderful things he has blessed us with over the past year. However, we are to be offering a sacrifice of thanksgiving. What does that mean?
In Leviticus, God told the Hebrews what they needed to do to fix their sin problem. There are many different rules and ordinances in the book. Most involve the sacrifice of a perfect lamb, or animal. So when the Hebrews brought their sacrifice, they were to have an attitude of thanksgiving because of the salvation they received from the Lord through that sacrifice.
In the Psalms, that word “thank” in the Hebrew is todah, which means to acknowledge, to thank. The Hebrew people would acknowledge God and offer thanks to him only when there had been some experiential work by God on the people’s behalf. So, a person would be in distress and cry out to God, then God would answer. That person who received the salvation would break into spontaneous thanksgiving.
There is the sacrifice. It’s all wrapped up with faith and salvation.
What about Christmas?
When was the last time you read the Christmas story BEFORE setting up your nativity? I urge you to read Luke 2:1-20 and then Mathew 2:1-12. You might just set up your nativity differently. Think about these questions:
Did Mary ride a donkey?
Was Jesus born in a stable? or a cave?
Was it really a silent night?
Did the inn keeper help Mary and Joseph?
Did the shepherds visit at day or night?
Were the wise men there the same night as the shepherds?
Did the wise men really “follow” a star?
How many wise men were there?
Did the wise men ride on camels?
Who was troubled by the wise men?
Where were Joseph, Mary and Jesus living?
How old was Jesus?
After thinking through these questions, begin looking around you at how the Christmas story is portrayed. Is it accurate? What about the hymns we sing? What about Christmas movies you let your kids watch? Many times we miss opportunities to teach our kids critical thinking when they are watching TV or listening to music.Teach them the names of Jesus and why he has them. Ask questions. If they cannot answer, or come up with questions themselves, have them look up the scriptures themselves.
And then there is Easter…
I know, I know. I’m jumping ahead quite a bit. But I think this is worth asking. When do you put up your Christmas tree? When do you decorate for Thanksgiving? Do you count down the days using an Advent calendar or devotional?
Thanksgiving and Christmas are meaningless without Easter.
Yet how much money do you spend during the Easter season? Is it even a season? Is it just a day? Do you decorate your home?
As Christians we cannot celebrate the holidays as separate and exclusive events. It’s because of Easter, that Jesus as born and laid in a manger. And it’s his death on the cross which should have us spouting thanksgiving as we accept the perfect gift from heaven: salvation from sin.
I encourage you to search the scriptures as we enter each holiday season. Share what you find with your children. You may find that they will choose to place the wise men on the other side of the room this year instead of at the manger.
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