Summary: Christmas tradition needs to be questioned and the truth of Christ affirmed.
Verse: Luke 2: 1-20
Probing Question: What is the reason for Christmas?
Key Word: reasons
Subject: Reasons for Christmas
Aim: To inspire the congregation to experience a renewed sense of what Christmas is all about.
Title: Christ Over Tradition
Christmas with your Family:
Family Traditions are a part of every Christmas celebration. Each of us has grown up with traditions that are unique to our own families. We get the Christmas lights on the house, the tree up and decorated, we all have our favourite Christmas show (The Christmas Carol, It’s A Wonderful Life, Rudolph or Frosty the Snowman), some open presents Christmas eve while others wait until Christmas morning. In our family we have Christmas breakfast after we have opened our gifts. We participate in a traditional Christmas eve service. These traditions are all a part of our family heritage.
Do we question our traditions?
The story has often been shared about the husband who asked his wife why she cuts the ends off the Sunday roast before she puts it into the roasting pan. She says to her husband, "my mother always did it that way and that was the way I was shown". The husband’s curiosity requires him to ask his mother-in-law. So next family gathering he goes to his mother-in-law and asks her why she always cuts off the ends of the roast before putting it into the roasting pan. She looks at him and says, "my mother always did it that way, so I learned from my mother and then I taught my daughter to do it the same way. But I don’t know why my mother did it that way. It’s just part of our tradition." Now the husband’s need to know becomes overwhelming so he goes to his wife’s grandmother and asks her why she cuts the ends off the roast before putting it in the roasting pan. She says to him "I had to cut off the ends to make it fit into my very small roasting pan." A tradition can start from a real need and continue through generations even though it has become irrelevant. This story confirms the need to know where our traditions have originated, why we still practice them and if they are still relevant.
In the Christian Magazine "Home Life" there was an article titled "Who Wants to be a Christmas Millionare?" taken from the popular TV show "Who Wants to be a Millionare". The article clearly showed the discrepancy between the truth of Christmas and the traditions of Christmas. We need to question traditions such as:
1. Yule logs
3. Christmas trees
Transition: Many of the traditions we take for granted have little connection with our Christian faith. It is interesting that many of us just accept them without question. Today lets take a look at three of our traditions and how they relate to Christmas and to our Christian faith.
Spirit of Giving (Saint Nicholas)
Luke 2: 1-7
2:1 Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth.
2:2 This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria.
2:3 And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city.
2:4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David,
2:5 in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child.
2:6 While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth.
2:7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Father Christmas (Santa Claus) is based on Saint Nicholas, who is said to have become the Bishop of Myra at age thirty. Tradition indicates that he came from a rich home and became well known for supporting the needy. He came to be worshiped and prayed to as the saint of merchants, the poor, children and just about everything else.
During the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century, Martin Luther tried to stop the worship of saints. However, the gift giver took on many other names: in Germany, he became Der Weinachtsmann ("Christmas Man") and Kris Kringle, in France he became Père Noël, he became Father Christmas in Britain and the colonies.
The Dutch, under Peter Stuyvesant, founded New Amsterdam (New York) and brought with them the celebrations of Sinterklaas, the Dutch name for Saint Nicholas. Santa Claus is the American pronunciation of Sinter Klaas.
In 1809, Washington Irving (the author of "Tales from Sleepy Hollow") wrote about Sinterklaas in his "A History of New York." Irving described Sinterklaas as a rotund little man in a typical Dutch costume, with knee breeches and a broad-brimmed hat, who travelled on horseback on the Eve of Saint Nicholas. In 1822, Clement Clark Moore, a poet and professor of theology, published the poem "A Visit From St. Nicholas" (also known as "The Night Before Christmas"). Moore’s Santa is a jolly old elf who flies around in a miniature sleigh with eight tiny reindeer. Moore even named the reindeer by the names we know them today, and the method by which Santa returns up the chimney.