In the Old Testament God commanded the Israelites to observe certain holidays. They had feasts and other days of observance that God commanded and that Jews observe to this day.
I am not Jewish and I do not celebrate most of the Old Testament feasts and holidays, but I do celebrate holidays. Which got me to thinking, do my holidays honor God? Now, the holidays created explicitly by God obviously were designed to honor Him and some of the holidays I observe are not designed with the singular purpose of honoring God, but I should honor God in my holidays.
So, how can the holidays I observe honor God? What are some pitfalls to honoring God on holidays? In an effort to answer these questions I went through the calendar and highlighted ways to honor God and pitfalls to achieving that end on the major holidays.
New Year's Eve and Day- I can honor God by thanking Him for the previous year and making resolutions that aim to make my next year more glorifying to Him than the previous year was. The pitfall I need to avoid is nostalgia. The Christian life is enhanced by remembering but only if remembering gives us strength for today and hope for tomorrow. Getting stuck in the past is not a good idea.
Easter- This one is designed to magnify Christ. It should be easy to remember the crucifixion and resurrection and the Gospel. We must glorify God immensely on this holy day. The pitfall here is becoming too familiar with the victory of Easter. The Easter story is amazing and let's never become bored with it.
Independence Day- I can glorify God by thanking Him for His providence in my life in having me be born in a free country like America. I can pray for my country and work for the good of it. The pitfalls I need to avoid are many on this holiday. We must not turn a healthy dose of patriotism into a deadly cocktail of idolatry. Don't get me wrong, I am patriotic but we must never make the United States into a god. When we start putting our Founding Fathers on an Apostolic level or begin to believe that America has somehow absorbed all the promises of Old Testament Israel we've gone off the deep end.
Thanksgiving Day- God commands that we be thankful and this holiday is all about that. On Thanksgiving we should feast and taste God's goodness in our life. Take time to name some of the many reasons you have to be thankful. Spend time with the only things going to heaven with you... the people around you. The pitfall of Thanksgiving is the stress of preparing and cleaning up after the feast. Jesus' friend Martha felt this stress and we often do, too. Help one another out with the prep and clean up. And perhaps sit down and just enjoy your company while they're with you.
Christmas- The incarnation of Jesus is a spectacular mystery. Christmas creates such wonder in us and this wonder honors God greatly. On Christmas give good gifts to one another generously, create lasting memories, attend church and worship God. Christmas is built for the Church to magnify God. The obvious pitfall of Christmas is commercialism. We feel the need to give competitively rather than generously. We put ourselves in debt to buy things that we feel will bring ourselves or others lasting joy when Christmas is the story of how God gave us lasting joy in the bundle of joy named Jesus.
Honoring God on our holidays is important. I've included some brief descriptions of ways to honor God on major holidays, but you should think this through for yourself. All of our holidays can and should be for God; from Labor Day to Valentine's Day our holidays can serve as a reminder that God is so good.
The basic recipe for honoring God on a holiday is to enjoy His gifts immensely without being owned by His gifts. Enjoy food, family, games, gifts and fireworks; but don't let them own you so that your pursuit of them is greater than your pursuit of God.
Before your next holiday think of ways to honor God, today.