Holidays Done Right

Keep them holy.

Exodus 12:50-13:10 (NKJV)

Thus all the children of Israel did; as the LORD commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did. And it came to pass, on that very same day, that the LORD brought the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt according to their armies.

Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Consecrate to Me all the firstborn, whatever opens the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and beast; it is Mine.”

And Moses said to the people: “Remember this day in which you went out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the LORD brought you out of this place. No leavened bread shall be eaten. On this day you are going out, in the month Abib. And it shall be, when the LORD brings you into the land of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, which He swore to your fathers to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey, that you shall keep this service in this month. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a feast to the LORD. Unleavened bread shall be eaten seven days. And no leavened bread shall be seen among you, nor shall leaven be seen among you in all your quarters. And you shall tell your son in that day, saying, ‘This is done because of what the LORD did for me when I came up from Egypt.’ It shall be as a sign to you on your hand and as a memorial between your eyes, that the LORD’s law may be in your mouth; for with a strong hand the LORD has brought you out of Egypt. You shall therefore keep this ordinance in its season from year to year.”

Passover is the mother of all holidays. It’s probably not the first annual celebration – pagan celebrations of the solstice are ancient – but Passover sets the standard.

Real holidays are an annual commemoration of an historical event: the birth of Christ, the Declaration of Independence, the armistice at the end of WWI. While the celebration can turn into excessive revelry, partying isn’t the point. Unlike, say, the last day of school, these celebrations are to remind us of something important, something we should remember.

Passover takes a whole week. It uses unleavened bread. It has a curriculum. A unique solemnity is imposed. When God institutes a holiday, He does it right. Compare that to, say, St. Patrick’s Day, which commemorates one of the most influential Christians in history. Yet, when we think of St. Patrick’s Day, we think of green beer. Ouch. And then there’s what we’ve done with Christmas.

It’s amazing that God tolerates that.

We’ve let commercial interests take over Christmas and St. Patrick’s Day – and virtually everything else. That’s almost unavoidable in a free society. The church’s job is to counter that by shining the light of the gospel on all this chaos. But how?

We can’t stop all the silliness; we can only provide a serious counterpoint. There’s no secret trick. Just be genuine in your faith and how you celebrate holidays. People notice these things.

The weekly study guides, which include discussion questions, are available for download here:

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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