Our Redeemed World

Now that November is here, I suppose we’ve entered into the holiday season, at least as far as the big box retail stores are concerned. Culture affects and influences the way we celebrate the holy days of our faith, especially Christmas and Easter. Why else would we cut down a tree and bring it inside our home each year? Surely this isn’t Biblical. Many well-meaning Christians protest that our faith has incorporated too many pagan influences. They point out that Jesus wasn’t born in December and that Easter Eggs are pagan fertility symbols and that Halloween was originally a celebration of native Celtic beliefs. And they’re probably right. But does that make Christmas or Easter or Halloween any less Christian? Absolutely not.  

You see, we live in a world that has been redeemed by the sacrifice of Jesus. Whatever makes up our broken world and all of us who live in it, is infused with the grace of God. Surely sin and darkness still exist. Death and suffering is all around us. But the Cross has brought Light to a world of dark and pagan creeds. Through the Cross, we have hope. And hope changes everything. All those old pagan myths and Celtic celebrations were our ancestors’ attempts to understand and make sense of a world that was often harsh and cruel. It was their way of seeking God. They found His goodness in the sun and moon and earth, in the animals of the forest and the sky, in the springs that bubbled forth. We do the same thing today, only we worship the Creator and not the world He made for us.  

It’s a mistake to classify myth or stories or nature religions as rubbish. Everything that speaks of a god is seeking the true God. The matter of the world, down to its very atoms, pulses with the grace of Calvary. Jesus loved creation enough to enter into it and live as a man. He loved eating and drinking and the beauty of the mountains and the desert. He used spit and mud, water and wine, fish and bread, to make miracles. He embraced our broken world and His saving grace is in every breath that we take. He loved our world so much that He died to redeem it, on a tree that He created, at the hands of men He knitted together in the womb.  

The Catholic Church understands this well. Over the centuries, it has condemned heresies which would have denied Christ’s humanity or attempted to portray matter as evil. Life in Christ isn’t an intellectual pursuit. It involves all of what He made. It’s engaging creation in service to one another and in glory to our Lord and Savior. It’s why we build beautiful churches and fill them with amazing art and breathtaking music. We know that beautiful things point us to the Source of all beauty. It’s why we love the beautiful things of the world. Like a glass of good wine or a hearty meal, as our Savior enjoyed. And it’s why celebrating Christmas at the winter solstice is a good thing. By claiming what was pagan, we proclaim: “We know what you were looking for in worshipping the sun—because we know the One Who made it.” It’s the same with Easter eggs proclaiming new life and a green tree filled with twinkling lights that remind us of the Light of Christ and our new life in Him.  

Everything is redeemed by Christ. Creation is a gift to us, given by God as a foretaste of heaven. So hang those lights on your tree. Drape the garland and stand under the mistletoe. Give thanks that spring will come again and we can dye those eggs in celebration. All of this and more might have pagan roots, but guess what—you and I have pagan roots, too. Our redemption began at baptism, and just like God has made the world a new creation in Him, He’s doing that with you and me, too, And there’s joy in that journey which draws other to the Light and Love of Jesus Christ.  

“God saw all that He had made, and it was very good.”

      ——Genesis 1:31

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. kph52013
    Nov 02, 2015 @ 12:19:55

    “..we worship the Creator and not the world He made for us.” If only we could remember this! Great post, Judy.


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