800-647-3344 Contact us

The Reason For The Season

By: Kimberly Troup

Ah… December…  As I’m sitting here with cold fingers, toes, and nose, I’m somewhat jealous of our Australian friends…  I think I need to go visit them over the Christmas holiday, just to experience summer heat during the holiday season!  Although, Australian friends have told me that it just doesn’t feel right to bake a turkey and all the trimmings for a traditional Christmas dinner in 100 degree (38 degrees C)  heat!  Here in Colorado it is looking like a pretty cold and snowy holiday season.

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 whom 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.

Today 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 that has become so much a part of the culture of Christmas into our family.  I wanted 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.

Some might say that I grew up in a dysfunctional home; I certainly didn’t grow up in a traditional home!  However, I did have two parents who loved God and who loved me.  With God’s help and grace I turned out ok and I haven’t been too scarred by my untraditional upbringing.  I do have great empathy, though, for children who come from truly dysfunctional homes, who haven’t experienced unconditional love from a parent, or who did not have someone who believed in them, or encourage them to chase their dreams.

As 2018 comes to a close you have an opportunity to sow into the lives of teens who are struggling.  You have the chance to be the wind beneath their wings that can lift them out of despair and change the course of their lives. I am asking you to give a special gift this Christmas season to help troubled teens in Israel.  Your donation will provide them with the help they need to overcome the obstacles life has thrown their way. Thank you for making a difference in their lives by believing in them and investing in their future.

I pray your holidays are filled with warmth and wonder, and you are salt and light to all you meet.  Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Kimberly Troup
Kim signature

 

 

Director, US Office
Christian Friends of Israeli Communities

7 thoughts on “The Reason For The Season”

  1. I so agree with your feelings Kimberly. The tree IS pagan but we don’t worship it so as long as the nativity scene is central I guess our Lord understands. Children without a tree will feel disappointed and envious of their friends and it may put them off the true meaning of Christmas. We make a thing about the baby Jesus not being put into the crib until Christmas Eve to emphasise why we celebrate at this time. Bless you all at CFOIC. Happy Christmas

  2. Kimberly, This article brought back memories for me, no pagan tree in our house too! Although our parents bought us kids gifts at the end of the year, so we wouldn’t look like total losers to all our school friends. My brother and I used to sarcastically refer to them as “end of year presents”. Oh the fighting that went on in our Church over whether we could have a Santa Clause give out small gifts to the Sunday school children. A compromise was reached and a Bozo the Clown type character was used instead, what a joke. To get “revenge” for Christmas time being wrecked by the conservatives, the liberals insisted that the conservative females stop wearing jewellery with the Star of David on it. They had done their research and concluded that that symbol was also shrouded in mysticism of pagan origin, and what about birthday celebrations in general? All pagan of course and the three cheers at birthday parties. Wasn’t that started by the Roman soldiers who gave three cheers at the final destruction of Jerusalem ? Before that they must have only ever given two cheers. “Carthage is destroyed! Hip hurrah, Hip hurrah……?” Oh those were the days, it feels good to know we weren’t the only kids to go through all that. Keep up the good work and have a “you know what!”

  3. A wonderful article Kimberly.
    I have a big dilemma also–as a Bible believing Gentile is it proper to get involved with what God is doing (Israel being His chosen people and He is fulfilling His promises to them how and when He has planned). However that is the easy way out so I will continue to pray about it and seek God’s direction.

  4. I’ve stopped doing Christmas decorations now, including the tree: however, may well get out my ‘nativity display’ that was bought in Israel. Though I prefer, as far as possible, to listen to Advent carols & hymns to as close as possible to ‘Christmas’ Eve. Never should we lose sight of our Lord’s second coming.

  5. To Graeme, while you continue to pray to Abba, seeking His direction, it may help to keep in mind His covenant with His people, Yisrael, is an EVERLASTING covenant to which He will always be faithful. What is close to G-d’s heart is close to mine as a Christian Zionist, born-again evangelical christian, whatever… G-d’s people are my people and I agree with all He has planned for them. That’s where I get involved, first loving, then supporting. May He speak to your heart in answer of your seeking…

  6. Thank you for sharing a part of your life with us. A wonderful story of which you should be proud to call your own but inspiring to so many of us.

    Shalom and Merry Christmas,

    Bob & Cheri Gallagher

  7. Shalom! A while back, I researched the tree. It was used for the German festival called yuletide before Yeshua was preached to the people. After believing in Yeshua as their Savior, the tree was incorporated in celebrating the birth of our Savior. Can not recall what yuletide festival was all about or what the decorated tree symbolized?

Comments are closed.

Hey, wait!While you’re here…

Would you like to receive updates from the Biblical Heartland of Israel?