An Unbeliever’s Perspective On Christmas

Sparking lights, candy canes and gingerbread are some of my favorite things at Christmas. They joyfully remind me of the One I follow.

An Unbeliever’s Perspective On Christmas

December 10, 2020

My good friend, Jennifer Elwood, recently published her first Bible study, Counting Up to Christmas, Twenty-four Gifts from the Gospel of Luke. Her book resonates deeply with me because I first became a believer during the Christmas season. I originally wrote this post as a guest on her blog. Please check out her website for some free gifts and to learn more about her book!

Christmas has always been magical to me. Like key ingredients of a favorite recipe, sparkling lights, candy canes and gingerbread create the perfect holiday.

Sparkling Lights

Because we didn’t believe in God, my family saw Jesus as nothing more than a historical figure. Our Christmas celebrations centered on family, food and fun.

I remember how the holiday season sparked interesting conversations in our home. We never understood why December 25th  became the birth date of Jesus. Historical and even Biblical evidence suggest a spring to early fall birth. Because many Christmas traditions mirror early pagan celebrations of the Winter Solstice, we concluded Christians merged the two holidays into our modern Christmas.

Still, every year at Christmas, I couldn’t help thinking about Jesus. Could there be more to His story than what I understood?

By the time the holidays ended, I usually forgot about Jesus. But during my senior year of college, a friend invited me to study the Bible over Christmas break. Since the holidays had rekindled my curiosity, I agreed.

Beginning with the gospel of John, our studies helped fill in the gaps of my understanding. One key Scripture stood out to me:

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12 ESV)

I had seen enough of the world to know it can be very dark. This image of Jesus lighting our way out of the darkness resonated with me.

As I reflected on this Scripture, a friend shared with me why Christians purposefully chose to celebrate the birth of Christ during the Winter Solstice. It all comes back to Jesus as the light of the world.

By definition, the Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year. Each successive day is longer because it has more light. What a beautiful analogy for the light of Christ!

Over that holiday season, I came to faith in Jesus as the Son of God and our Savior.

Sparkling lights at Christmas remind me of the light I found in Jesus.

Candy Canes

Before studying the Bible, candy canes served only to decorate our Christmas tree. To be completely honest, I preferred other holiday candies.

Until I discovered the legend behind the candy cane. Each part of the Christmas candy cane carries a reminder of Christ. The white base represents His purity and freedom from sin. The candy cane’s red stripes remind us of the blood Jesus shed so we could be healed. Turned upside down, the candy cane looks like the letter J, for Jesus.

Most importantly to me, the shape of the candy cane resembles a shepherd’s staff. This reminds me of two Scriptures which stuck with me during my first studies in the Bible:

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. (Matthew 9:36 ESV)

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (John 10:11 ESV)

Harassed and helpless described my last year at the University. A recent breakup with a boyfriend, uncertainty for my future, and family turmoil left me feeling disillusioned and weary. I felt lost and knew I needed Jesus as my shepherd.

Candy canes at Christmas remind me I still follow a compassionate shepherd who gave His life for me.

Gingerbread

What in the world does gingerbread have to do with a perfect Christmas? Like sparkling lights and candy canes, gingerbread at Christmas brings me back to learning about Jesus.

As our good shepherd, Jesus promises us an abundant life:

I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (John 10:10b ESV)

For me an abundant life must include generous amounts of fun. And who can help but love the story of this mischievous gingerbread cookie?

I’ve collected many versions of this holiday classic story, and they still make me laugh. As a family, we’ve decorated (and eaten) a fair number of gingerbread cookies and houses.

The presence of gingerbread at Christmas reminds me of the light-hearted fun we can have as followers of Jesus.

Unique Opportunity

Christmas remains one of the very few times in the year when people are consciously thinking about Jesus and wondering about His story. As Christians, we have the unique opportunity to reflect His light as we celebrate the season. We may never know how our example helps someone (like me) find faith in Jesus.

Sparkling lights, candy canes and gingerbread joyfully remind me of the One I follow. Wherever the road takes you this holiday season, I pray you can fill Christmas with fun reminders of your faith.

An Unbeliever’s Perspective On Christmas

December 10, 2020

Sparking lights, candy canes and gingerbread are some of my favorite things at Christmas. They joyfully remind me of the One I follow.

My good friend, Jennifer Elwood, recently published her first Bible study, Counting Up to Christmas, Twenty-four Gifts from the Gospel of Luke. Her book resonates deeply with me because I first became a believer during the Christmas season. I originally wrote this post as a guest on her blog. Please check out her website for some free gifts and to learn more about her book!

Christmas has always been magical to me. Like key ingredients of a favorite recipe, sparkling lights, candy canes and gingerbread create the perfect holiday.

Sparkling Lights

Because we didn’t believe in God, my family saw Jesus as nothing more than a historical figure. Our Christmas celebrations centered on family, food and fun.

I remember how the holiday season sparked interesting conversations in our home. We never understood why December 25th  became the birth date of Jesus. Historical and even Biblical evidence suggest a spring to early fall birth. Because many Christmas traditions mirror early pagan celebrations of the Winter Solstice, we concluded Christians merged the two holidays into our modern Christmas.

Still, every year at Christmas, I couldn’t help thinking about Jesus. Could there be more to His story than what I understood?

By the time the holidays ended, I usually forgot about Jesus. But during my senior year of college, a friend invited me to study the Bible over Christmas break. Since the holidays had rekindled my curiosity, I agreed.

Beginning with the gospel of John, our studies helped fill in the gaps of my understanding. One key Scripture stood out to me:

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12 ESV)

I had seen enough of the world to know it can be very dark. This image of Jesus lighting our way out of the darkness resonated with me.

As I reflected on this Scripture, a friend shared with me why Christians purposefully chose to celebrate the birth of Christ during the Winter Solstice. It all comes back to Jesus as the light of the world.

By definition, the Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year. Each successive day is longer because it has more light. What a beautiful analogy for the light of Christ!

Over that holiday season, I came to faith in Jesus as the Son of God and our Savior.

Sparkling lights at Christmas remind me of the light I found in Jesus.

Candy Canes

Before studying the Bible, candy canes served only to decorate our Christmas tree. To be completely honest, I preferred other holiday candies.

Until I discovered the legend behind the candy cane. Each part of the Christmas candy cane carries a reminder of Christ. The white base represents His purity and freedom from sin. The candy cane’s red stripes remind us of the blood Jesus shed so we could be healed. Turned upside down, the candy cane looks like the letter J, for Jesus.

Most importantly to me, the shape of the candy cane resembles a shepherd’s staff. This reminds me of two Scriptures which stuck with me during my first studies in the Bible:

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. (Matthew 9:36 ESV)

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (John 10:11 ESV)

Harassed and helpless described my last year at the University. A recent breakup with a boyfriend, uncertainty for my future, and family turmoil left me feeling disillusioned and weary. I felt lost and knew I needed Jesus as my shepherd.

Candy canes at Christmas remind me I still follow a compassionate shepherd who gave His life for me.

Gingerbread

What in the world does gingerbread have to do with a perfect Christmas? Like sparkling lights and candy canes, gingerbread at Christmas brings me back to learning about Jesus.

As our good shepherd, Jesus promises us an abundant life:

I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (John 10:10b ESV)

For me an abundant life must include generous amounts of fun. And who can help but love the story of this mischievous gingerbread cookie?

I’ve collected many versions of this holiday classic story, and they still make me laugh. As a family, we’ve decorated (and eaten) a fair number of gingerbread cookies and houses.

The presence of gingerbread at Christmas reminds me of the light-hearted fun we can have as followers of Jesus.

Unique Opportunity

Christmas remains one of the very few times in the year when people are consciously thinking about Jesus and wondering about His story. As Christians, we have the unique opportunity to reflect His light as we celebrate the season. We may never know how our example helps someone (like me) find faith in Jesus.

Sparkling lights, candy canes and gingerbread joyfully remind me of the One I follow. Wherever the road takes you this holiday season, I pray you can fill Christmas with fun reminders of your faith.

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2 Comments

  1. Marcia on December 11, 2020 at 5:55 AM

    I love reading your blog… You are so insightful and a joy to listen to… Thank you for this 🙂

    • Shirley Desmond Jackson on December 11, 2020 at 7:03 PM

      Thank you, Marcia! I’m so glad you enjoy it! ????

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