Christmas is the time when we celebrate the birth of Yeshua, and New Years day is when we celebrate the beginning of the new calendar year. Obviously, Christmas is a religious celebration, which traces its roots back to the fourth century. New Years day is a secular celebration which is celebrated on the 1st day of January in the New Year. That these two events might be connected in some way may seem a little bit surprising, but they are connected, and the ideas that these two celebrations represent both play an important part in a New Christianity.
If we look at the origins of the Christian church, we see that the two main events which it celebrates, had already taken place before the church was formed. This is important to note, because it gives us a perspective that is often overlooked by churches today. The gift: the birth of Yeshua, who would become the sacrifice for all; and His death, the sacrifice through which salvation is given to all people, had already transpired. Why is this important to remember? Because it means that even before the formation of the Christian church, we were already loved and forgiven! So, with this in mind, what is being overlooked? We’ll come back to this, but first, let’s look again at the object of the Christmas celebration. In Yeshua we find more in this gift than the love of the Father, and the forgiveness of sin. We find that Yeshua has also given us important lessons through parables, and a prime example of how to live our own lives. But the Christ is still seen only (or primarily) as the savior, who saves us from our sins.
In the series of articles “What is Sin?”, we have already looked carefully at the nature of sin, and determined that oftentimes, the church blows the phenomenon of what we call sin out of proportion. So if sin really isn’t as big an issue to the Father as the church makes it, then why would Yeshua have needed to die on the cross anyway? If sin isn’t really such a big deal, why do we need a savior?
To review what we discussed in “What is Sin?”, we are in a state of “natural man”, striving to become “spiritual man”. A close examination of this reveals two problems, both of which stem from the “lower self” (another way of saying the “natural man”). The first of these is the self-centered tendency to focus on our own needs and desires first and the needs of others afterwards. This selfishness forms the basis of sinful behavior. The other self-centered tendency is guilt. After we have done something sinful, we often feel guilty for those selfish actions. While some amount of remorse may be appropriate, as a part of the confessional process; many people feel the guilt much more severely than the Father would consider necessary. These high levels of guilt can actually become a downward spiral of disability, which becomes a stumbling block.
While church going Christians participate in a public general confession at the beginning of the church service, few actually “hear” the words which are spoken from the first letter of John. In the 9th verse of the 1st chapter, John tells us that “…if we confess our sins, God who is faithful and just will forgive our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness”. You’ve seen this verse in other articles on this site, as well. The point is this: if you have been cleansed from “all unrighteousness”, that means that for that point in time (and as long thereafter as you can stay in the “higher self” or in the state of “spiritual man”,) you have been made pure and blameless. (Not at the point that a priest or pastor declares you to be forgiven, but at the point when you have confessed your sins.)
Unfortunately, we tend to listen to those words without hearing or understanding them and the feeling of guilt over past sins, persists. These feelings of guilt become a stumbling block because they tempt us to think of ourselves as being unworthy. Feelings of unworthiness can lead to all sorts of complications, but the biggest problem they cause is that when the time comes to step forward to serve God, we decline the opportunity because we feel that we are somehow unworthy to serve Him. This is how guilt becomes a stumbling block. This is also why it is appropriate to link Christmas with the New Year.
As we look at the tradition of the New Year, one phrase in particular points us in the right direction: “Out with the old, and in with the New!” When we see the gift of the Christ child and the salvation He has given us, it becomes a great opportunity to throw out the ideas that we are guilty, or unworthy to serve God, and to take on His service, knowing that we are made clean, and are worthy to serve Him anew. This connection then, between Christmas and New Years, couldn’t be more relevant, and couldn’t be any more important that it already is, in your relationship with God!
Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Grace and peace to you all,