Christmas Q&A (Pt. 1)

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What’s up One Degree fam!? We’ve got another Q&A Series for you and to match the current season- it’s a Christmas Q&A! We opened up another Instagram question box, so these are all questions from you guys! This is only part one, and we’re going to answer questions about Christmas, its origins, and what the Bible has to say about Christmas. But tune in next week for part two, where we’ll answer all the personal and fun questions!

Question #1

Why is advent important?

We’re going to start by giving some background on what Advent is.

It’s the season leading up to Christmas. It is four Sundays long – from the Sunday closest to Nov. 30 and ends on Christmas Eve. It’s historically observed by more liturgical groups (Catholics, Lutherans, Anglicans, and Methodists) but evangelicals have started observing and celebrating it far more in recent years. (Even Baptists, too!)

Advent means “arrival/coming.” Jesus’s first advent was the incarnation – His birth on Christmas. This is a time to prepare our hearts for the eventual return of Christ, the second advent, and to honor and remember His first coming.

Advent wreaths are evergreen circles with four colored candles (three purple, one pink) surrounding a white one in the middle. The candles are lit week by week on successive Sundays in a specific order:

  • 1st: “Hope”
  • 2nd: “Faith” 
  • 3rd: “Joy”
  • 4th: “Peace”
  • The center candle is lit on Christmas Eve/Day and is the “Christ Candle”

Whether or not to observe/commemorate the Advent season is really a matter of personal conviction/preference. It’s not a matter of sin or faithfulness. But, it doesn’t hurt to be intentional to focus your heart on the coming of Christ for a season. There is a lot of rich history and church tradition surrounding it too!

Question #2

Does the Bible imply that a decorated tree is a pagan symbol in Jeremiah 10:3-4?

This is always a popular question!

Jeremiah 10:2-4 says, “Learn not the way of the nations, nor be dismayed at the signs of the heavens because the nations are dismayed at them, for the customs of the peoples are vanity. A tree from the forest is cut down and worked with an axe by the hands of a craftsman. They decorate it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so that it cannot move.”

Regardless of the fact that these words were written more than 2,000 years before the invention of what we now refer to as “Christmas trees”, the context of this chapter is not referring to Christmas trees. Jeremiah is condemning carving idols of worship! The next verse explains that the idols are not gods, but lifeless carvings: “They cannot speak; they must be carried; because they cannot walk!”

So, if you struggle with worshipping a Christmas tree, you probably shouldn’t have a Christmas tree. This is a grey area, so it really will depend on your own personal convictions and conscience.

Framework for Grey Areas

So, when we come to something that isn’t inherently sinful, we should ask ourselves a few questions:

  1. Is it leading me or tempting me to sin?
    • For example, social media and our phones are inherently sinful, but for some, they make it very easy to fall into a pornography addiction. I (Nathaniel) had a friend who started using a flip phone for this reason!
  2. Am I confident that I can glorify God while engaging in this?
  3. Is this hindering the walk of our brothers/sisters in Christ or tempting them to sin?
    • Paul makes it clear that our liberty should never come at the expense of our brothers and sisters.

So, when it comes to Christmas trees, you should ask yourselves these questions! Personally, we don’t know anyone who struggles with worshipping Christmas trees, so we think it’s pretty safe to say that you can have a Christmas tree!

Question #3

What kind of family devotional do/will you do? How do you commemorate the Advent season?

We don’t have a specific devotional. We are doing our own independent studies in Scripture. As the girls get older, we’ll start implementing daily Bible readings, but right now it feels like we’d be pushing it. 

Throughout the day-to-day, we like to talk about the fact we’re going to be celebrating Jesus’s birthday and telling the Christmas story so they understand what all the decorations/celebrations around us are all about.

Question #4

Christmas tree topper origins? Star vs. angel?

The angel tree topper comes from the presence of angels in the story of Christ’s birth! Angels appeared high in the sky, so people started placing them at the top of their trees to celebrate them.

Similarly, the star represents the Star of Bethlehem that the wise men followed in order to offer their gifts to Jesus.

No crazy origins, but we do have opinions about our tree topper. We put a star on top of our tree! Obviously not a sin issue, but the angels that we typically use as tree toppers are not biblically accurate angels (google it).

One Degree Shift

Even if you didn’t do anything intentional for Advent this year, plan to do something intentional next year!

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