December 17, 2019
by Kimberly Troup
Christmas is a time that brings mixed emotions for me. I grew up in a Christian home that did not celebrate Christmas. I was taught as a child that Christmas is a completely pagan holiday and shouldn’t be celebrated in any way, so I grew up without a Christmas tree, festive lights or presents. We were definitely the odd family who no one quite understood. Given my background, I do have an understanding of the many people I meet today who also don’t celebrate Christmas.
As an adult, I do celebrate Christmas, even though I know that the holiday is not a Biblical one. In our home, the focus of Christmas is on Jesus. But we do have a (gasp) pagan Christmas tree in our living room, pretty lights and, of course, presents. As an adult I looked at what Christmas meant to me and decided that I wanted to incorporate the love, joy, and excitement of the season that has become part of the Christian culture into our family. To instill these values into our children while obliterating the pagan elements that may once have been associated with the early foundation of Christmas.
The main Christmas display that we put up every year is our collection of nativity sets. Our collection includes some unique sets hand-crafted from olive wood that I bought in Israel, as well as items from Congo, Mexico, Kenya, a woodland creature design, and a traditional store-bought one. For me it shows that our hearts are focused on the reason for the season. For if Jesus had not been born, I would still be worshiping a tree in a forest somewhere. Without my faith in Jesus I would not have a relationship with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
I know for many who love Israel and follow the Hebraic roots of our faith, whether or not to celebrate Christmas can be a real struggle. And I usually get some chastising notes and emails from well-meaning folks who are aghast that I allow a pagan Christmas tree in my home, when I should know better! So I will apologize in advance if talking about Christmas or saying “Merry Christmas” is offensive to you. I believe that God has called us to be salt and light wherever we go in this world. To give flavor and clarity of vision to all we come in contact with. And Christmas is a great time to do that, to be living examples of God’s love everywhere we go.
Today is my mother’s 70th birthday, so I’m sensitive to the challenges faced by Senior Citizens. As 2019 comes to a close I want to invite you to join me in bringing love and compassion to the people in Israel who need it most right now. Through CFOIC Heartland, you have an opportunity to sow into the lives of senior citizens as they struggle with the challenges that face so many in their twilight years. You have a chance to bless them, encourage them, and show them unconditional love during this holiday season. I am asking you to give a special gift this Christmas season to help Senior Citizens in the Biblical Heartland of Israel. Your donation will provide them with subsidies for their heating bills, dental treatments, exercise classes, enrichment programs and care for those suffering from dementia and physical impairment. They invested their lives in building the communities of Judea and Samaria. This is your chance to give back to them.
I pray your holidays are filled with warmth and wonder, and that you will be salt and light to all you meet. Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Director, US Office
Christian Friends of Israeli Communities