For a few years, after I left the sect, I did celebrate Christmas. It was still difficult, because I didn't really know how to get "in the Spirit." I was not a believer then. I was trying to embrace the secular side of Christmas. Some of it was lovely, the family gatherings, the lights, the gifts, but I still had anxiety. When I studied with Jehovah's Witnesses, a group that resembles the one from my childhood, I felt more at home again, because they don't participate in Christmas either.
Eventually, I learned of the saving grace of Jesus, the same Jesus who was born in a manger. My whole world changed when I fell in love with the mighty Saviour. He filled my life with love, joy and purpose, but in some respects, peace was still elusive. Christmas continued to be a stressful time for me. The first Christmas after my new birth in Christ, I saw a Christmas tree in the church foyer. I ran from the church in a tearful outrage. I was angry, hurt and literally sick to my stomach. Gradually, I became more tolerant, but my understanding was limited.
That happened thirty-three years ago. Today, I love and enjoy Christmas in freedom! Many of my questions were answered through a little booklet entitled, "Christmas Reconsidered" by Ralph Woodrow. Christmas Reconsidered It addresses questions like, "Is it an ancient pagan festival?" and "Did Jeremiah condemn Christmas trees?" Most of you have likely never had to deal with such conflicts associated with Christmas, but for those of you who have, I recommend Woodrow's booklet.
My true liberty, however, did not come from Ralph Woodrow. It came from an awesome and living God, the One who came from the glory of heaven to be born in a stable. He came to live among us, to love us, heal us and to offer us abundant life here and in His Kingdom. I am amazed at His beauty, His compassion, His perfect peace. As a child and as a Jehovah's Witness, I was not allowed to sing, "Away in a Manger," or "Oh Holy Night," or any other carols about Him. Now, I sing with all my heart, "Go Tell it on the Mountain!"