You have heard the allegations… The Christmas traditions that we celebrate each year may have actually come from pagan sources. Really? Is it possible that Christmas isn’t what we think it is? And, is the church engaged in a cover-up that keeps the truth obscured?
Lifegroup Discussion Questions below the fold!
If you are the discussion leader, have everyone open to this page on their device. Take turns reading and discussing.
Final Christmas Family Plans
Hey, THIS SUNDAY is the day to bring your group’s Tower Road Family Christmas Presents to the church for Glenda Murphy to deliver. Bring them between services to the Conference Room (inside the grey portable at the front entrance to the church property) Glenda will be there to receive those wrapped and tagged gifts during those two between-service shifts. (9:30-10:00, 11:00-11:30)
Christmas Wrapping Done FOR You
Speaking of Christmas gifts, you can have those Tower Road gifts, or any other Christmas gifts wrapped for you right at the church! We have a mission team headed to Scotland next summer to do VBS there, and they are raising money! Help them out and save yourself the wrapping hassle. Details are available at the link.Wrapping Details
What are you looking forward to this Christmas?
What is one of your favorite Christmas memories?
How early do you & your family typically get the tree up in your home?
On Sunday, I talked about the Christmas tree, and other Christmas traditions. Had you heard about the pagan background of those things before? How had you responded to those thoughts in the past?
My preacher/blogger friend cites the following verse as a Biblical condemnation against decorated trees. How do you think it reads? Is it forbidding Christmas trees?
Jeremiah 10:2–5 (NLT)
This is what the Lord says: “Do not act like the other nations, who try to read their future in the stars. Do not be afraid of their predictions, even though other nations are terrified by them.
Their ways are futile and foolish. They cut down a tree, and a craftsman carves an idol.
They decorate it with gold and silver and then fasten it securely with hammer and nails so it won’t fall over.
Their gods are like helpless scarecrows in a cucumber field! They cannot speak, and they need to be carried because they cannot walk. Do not be afraid of such gods, for they can neither harm you nor do you any good.”
A friend of mine told me about her church “back home,” where they had discussed the pagan origins of some of those traditions, and decided that, as a church, they should not use any of those traditions to celebrate Jesus’ birthday at all! So, she raised her kids without the tree, ornaments, and many of the other traditional Christmas trappings. Have you seen that before? Have you had an experience like that one?
Unlike that response, we say that God is in the redemption business. How is what he does in us like what He did for His people when they were enslaved in Egypt? (see the promise, below.)
Exodus 6:6–8 (NLT)
“I am the Lord. I will free you from your oppression and will rescue you from your slavery in Egypt. I will redeem you with a powerful arm and great acts of judgment. I will claim you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God who has freed you from your oppression in Egypt. I will bring you into the land I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I will give it to you as your very own possession. I am the Lord!”
Has he redeemed things in your life? What? How?
2 Corinthians 5:18–20 (NLT)
And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”
Do you see yourself as an agent of redemption? What does that mean?
One of my favorite biblical redemption stories is how God used Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego. You probably know the story… These guys refused to bow and worship the false god of Babylon, and after repeated threats, they were sentenced to die by being burned to death.
Even so, these young men knew that God was able to save them. “BUT,” they said, “even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.” (Daniel 3:17-18)
These guys saw their captivity as having a purpose. Even when they were to be killed, they realized there was a purpose. They may not have seen it at the time, but they knew it was there, and that they would rather die than betray Him.
Of course, they weren’t killed. In fact, they survived along with an appearance of the pre-incarnate Christ! (Daniel 3:25)
After they stepped out of the fire, Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzar made this declaration:
Daniel 3:28–29 (NLT)
Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise to the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego! He sent his angel to rescue his servants who trusted in him. They defied the king’s command and were willing to die rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. Therefore, I make this decree: If any people, whatever their race or nation or language, speak a word against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, they will be torn limb from limb, and their houses will be turned into heaps of rubble. There is no other god who can rescue like this!”
That’s right… Even though it was short-lived, Babylon’s entire religious system flipped from cult/king worship to worship of the One True God!
If God can use three teenaged boys to change one of the most evil nations ever, what could He use YOU to do during this holiday season?
How can we each be part of redeeming Ellijay and Gilmer County to God?