Christmas is the time of year people hear a lot about joy, but oftentimes skepticism or legalism because of myths and misconceptions can steal the holiday cheer from the season. This is the message that Christian actor, Kirk Cameron, best known for his 80s sitcom, Growing Pains and the movie Fireproof, is touting this holiday season in interviews and his newest movie release, Saving Christmas which opened in select theaters on Nov. 14 for a limited two-week run. He counters the misconceptions that many believers and non-believers hold about the pagan roots of many Christmas traditions with reference to biblical roots and symbolism. Cameron trumpets a call to go all out in celebrating the holiday as a remembrance of Christ’s birth without guilt or legalism and urges moms to set the tone for their homes in creating a joyful celebration.
Skeptics and Christian purists insist that Christmas trees are tied to the pagan celebration of winter solstice and maintain that the tradition has no place in a joyful holiday celebration meant to honor Jesus. Cameron argues that what ancient pagans did with trees is irrelevant to the Christian use of a tree to honor Christ. He points out that the Bible records the first examples of celebrating faith with a tree, the most significant of which is Christ’s crucifixion on a tree. Despite misconceptions about giving gifts and singing songs, both are customs right out of the biblical account of the first Christmas. The outspoken Christian activist reminds skeptics inside and outside the faith that if people avoided everything with even a hint of a mythical pagan background, it would soon escalate to preposterous extremes such as never eating hamburgers because they used calves as idols; or remaining childless because they practiced child sacrifice. Cameron boldly asserts that pagans do not own anything and to act like they do is to allow them to steal what is God’s and claim it as their own.
He explains that the true intent of the Bible instructions on avoiding association with pagan rituals is that people need to recognize that He alone created and owns all things and to set their hearts on honoring Him with His creation, instead of paying homage to false gods. He asserts that setting up a Christmas tree is not akin to sin because God made the trees. He filled them with fruit, decorated an almond tree with lights for a lampstand in the tabernacle and bestowed gifts to His followers around the base of trees, not the least of which is the free gift of mercy, grace and forgiveness at the foot of Calvary’s tree. Even the walls of the temple were frescoed with trees.
His new movie challenges Christians to back off of a legalistic view of the holiday and let their faith inspire joy in celebrating the monumental truth of God come to earth in the flesh. He wants to show people how to put away their doubts, prejudices, fears, moralizing and rule-mongering that strip away their enjoyment of Christmas. He explains that getting too uptight, puritanical and scrooge-like about holiday celebrations short circuits people’s ability to intertwine their faith with the fun of making Christmas goodies, decorating and socializing with loved ones simply for the sake of fun and togetherness. The movie also visits other Christmas myths that have caused misconceptions such as Santa Claus. He stands firm on his conviction that loving Christmas and being a Christian are not mutually exclusive propositions.
Cameron and his wife, Chelsea Noble and their six children pull out all the stops to make Christmas very special with a nativity, feasting, singing and even chestnuts roasting. Christmas is a time to celebrate and be joyful without allowing myths and misconceptions work their “scroogery” and steal the heart of the holiday from the home. He urges people to stop listening to the wrong people and getting too serious about a celebration that should exude beauty and joy. He urges moms and wives to be role models for that joy this Christmas because “the joy of the Lord is your strength” and as children draw strength from their mothers, it is important not to let anything steal their joy and sap their strength. The joy in the home will be evident in the Christmas decorations, the holiday cooking, the singing, the stories and family traditions that are evident as families practice hospitality through the season, allowing everyone they touch to hear the story of the King come to earth and the invitation to join His kingdom.
by Tamara Christine Van Hooser
Photo Courtesy of Benjamin J. DeLong – Flickr License