My childhood upbringing was one of religious diversity. My mother was Catholic while father embraced the Jehovah Witness doctrine. Miraculously they spent 43 years together when mother passed on. After my confirmation in the Catholic Church mother made the decision to come out of Catholicism and become a protestant. Her intensions in this dramatic change was to expose her children to more of the biblical stories and Word of God, the Bible.
On a quest for truth in my adult years I began to research the extensive number of religions in the world. I discovered that in the early history of believers when they were first called 'Christians' the leaders of the day blended pagan and Christian theology and customs as an appeasement for everyone, similar to the 'politically correct' ideology of today’s world. This compromise seemed to appeal to the masses and they all lived happily ever after. At the end of the age of Grace our future in America will see this ideology merge into a One World Religion with all religions under one banner of faith.
For the Christian, however, this cannot be a comfortable union. We are set apart with only one way to heaven through Jesus sacrifice on the cross.
How can Christian parents turn pagan holidays into a Christ centered theme for their children without presenting the faith in a negative, legalistic manner? The pagan side of the holidays has always been at the forefront through the propaganda and promotion of big business. Millions of dollars are made every year from commercialization of the holidays with the religious emphasis pushed back in the shadows of greedy, money hungry entrepreneurs. But there is a way to let the light of Jesus shine through this darkness. Here's but a few suggestions on how this can be accomplished.
CHRISTMAS: Little by little Jesus has been eliminated from this otherwise cheerful Christmas season. A secular, commercialism has taken over. Christian parents can turn that around. Let’s start with the Christmas tree. Opportunities abound to overshadow the dark side with the salvation message. It begins with the Roman soldiers who use a humble tree to pound nails into the hands and feet of Jesus, the ultimate human sacrifice for all sin. The blood soaked tree from our crucified Savior offers acquittal for all the bad choices we make in life and sets us free from the bondage of sin to be all our Creator God planned for us John 3:16. The lights on the tree shine bright like the Jesus light that shines out from all those who allow Him to come into their lives. Jesus is the light of the world, John 1: 1-5. For those lights to be illuminated they first must be connected to a power source. As we look at the cheerful Christmas tree it will take on a whole new meaning. We are the light of the world if were joined with Jesus who is the power source of that light.
Birthday cake: For snack time a special “Happy Birthday Jesus” cake can be presented to the children with a birthday song just for Him in remembrance of his birth in a lowly manger in Bethlehem on that enchanted Christmas Eve so long ago. This opens the door to share the Christmas story with the children.
Gifts: The gift that was given to the world was in the likeness of a human baby that grew up to be our Savior. This can be illustrated by wrapping a present that is offered to a child as you share the salvation message. Unless he accepts that gift he cannot call it his own. Jesus offers himself as a gift, free and clear because he has already paid the price for our sin. When we humbly receive him and accept the gift He offers He will come into our lives to be with us forever. As a party, the children can have a gift exchange with each child required to bring an untagged, wrapped gift. Place them all on a table and each blindfolded child can choose a gift. After its unwrapped they can exchange it with someone else who is willing to trade.
HALLOWEEN: The original meaning of this holiday was an all Saints Day but with the merging of paganism it took on a dark, sinister side that included witches, zombies, vampires and demons from the spirit world. How do Christians shine the light of the gospel into this dark side of the Holiday? First would be a name change. More appropriate would be a theme from the season like “Fall Festival” or “Harvest Time”. Churches or Christian family’s might sponsor parties for the children that would encourage them to wear biblical costumes or those of animals or famous people. Healthy snacks and games can be provided adding a festive note to the evening. Bible tracks can be given to your children to hand out during trick and treating as an exchange thank you gift providing a venue for God’s word to be spread into homes that might not otherwise be exposed.
The Pumpkin: This custom also took on a dark side. How can the gospel message be shared through a pumpkin? Carving a pumpkin is a process that’s done in steps. First the pumpkin grower cleans off all the dirt on the outside before putting it on the market for sale. The buyer takes it home and proceeds to clean out all the inside that isn’t needed to make room for a light that will shine through a smiling face. Christians are like that pumpkin. Jesus removes all the things in our lives that are not needed (sin) and would hinder the light to shine through. He then places His light within that gives us a big smile because all our sins are forgiven and he now lives within us as the light of our life John 1:15. This story can be shared as an on hands demonstration.
“Stack the Pumpkins” Any dollar store would have small, foam pumpkins. Remove the stems and give the children only one minute to stack the pumpkins. The prize is awarded to the child who stacks the most pumpkins successfully.
“Corn Kernels” Count out candy corn and place in medium size jar. The children write out their guess on how many kernels are in the jar and the closest guess wins the jar full of candy.
EASTER: The name Easter has its origin from a pagan background. Again a name change is in order. “Celebration of Life” is more appropriate for the Christian. This Celebration is at the nucleus of the Christian faith. Without the resurrection of our Savior Jesus we would be left with a dead God to worship like those who worship idols made of wood, metal or stone that cannot see, speak or hear. Christians worship a God who rose from the grave and is alive for eternity. For those who put their faith in Christ they become spiritually alive and their immortal soul will spend an eternity with Him in heaven. They are born again John 1:13, forgiven and reconciled once again with their Creator Father. It is a time of celebration from spiritual death into spiritual life through the person of Jesus. Here’s some suggestions for Christian parents that you can do with your family that will keep the gospel message in focus and yet be a time of joy for the children.
At times as child growing up in a spiritually divided home my holidays were somewhat rigid and legalistic. I also had a difficult time understanding how a rabbit could lay eggs. However, to the Christian parent this is an ideal time to apply the salvation message to over ride pagan customs.
The Egg: Begin a dialog with your children by asking them “which came first, the chicken or the egg?” You can proceed to read the 7 days of creation from the Bible. Logically the chicken would have to come first. You can explain to them that our Creator who made the chicken gave us some important nutritional value in the egg that our bodies require to stay healthy. When we slice the egg in half we see a bright, yellow yoke that looks like the sun…just like the light from the Son of God, Jesus that shines out from within all who have invited him into their lives. By allowing Jesus to be at the center of our lives He will shine out like the yoke in the center of the egg.
Eggs in a Basket: You will need two baskets without handles. One filled with plastic eggs, the other placed on the floor in front of a table. The children will have only one minute to roll the eggs on the table into the basket on the floor. The winner is the one that rolls the most eggs in the basket.
Ring around the Rabbit: You’ll need a large, overstuffed rabbit and large embroidery hoops that can be found at any Thrift Store. The children are given one minute to hoop the rabbit. The winner is the child who has the most hoops around the rabbit. Size and age of child depends on distance they stand.
Note: With today’s trend to take Christ out of all the major holidays, Christian parents can be vigilant and reverse that trend by sharing the gospel message with their children and placing Jesus in his rightful place at the center of their hearts and homes.