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A look at the origins of a holiday.

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  1. 1. Merry WalkWaterMass An essay by Alan Williamson Hes the reason for the season. Put Christ back into Christmas. So goes the spirit of Christmasthese days when the end of December approaches. Some people worship in ignorance a God they donot understand in ways that God has NOT appointed. Others worship the material, commercial aspectsof the holiday in their eager anticipation of gifts and presents just waiting under the tree to beunwrapped. Such a diversity of beliefs, attitudes and expectations are blended together in this Christ-mass day. Lost in the moment is any consideration to how God may actually look down on this "celebration". Does it really matter what God might think?i How could we know the mind of God and how He might accept / or reject the worship of men? Do the scriptures reveal anything that could inform us concerning this Christmas day? We could examine the religious aspect of the Christmascelebration. Does this day commemorating the birth of Jesus belong in the religious calendar that Godhas appointed for the faithful to keep? A quick check of the New Testament will reveal that there is nomention of Christmas (or Easter, or Halloween, etc.). So, is it permitted for men to create religiousholidays for the purpose of worshiping God in ways He has not authorized?ii Looking at it from thisperspective, most serious disciples today would not agree with "making things up" in the Name of God.But, there have been - and maybe still are - some who see no harm in inventing religious days ofworship. Suppose someone were to decide todaythat it would be a good idea to choose a day tocommemorate the miracle when Jesus walked onwater. A warm day in summer is selected,traditions are appointed, significance is given towater, the boat, the storm, etc. and Christianseverywhere are invited to begin celebrating theday of WalkWaterMass. Churches will holdreligious services to remember what Jesus did.Christians everywhere will have a boat in theirliving rooms, decorated with lights and tinsel andfilled with presents. 1
  2. 2. Surely NO one would object to creating such a holiday without direction from God.iii After all itis done in the “spirit” of Christ. What would it hurt to make it up and celebrate it, especially when weenjoy the holidays so much? Ah, but you say to create such a holy day would be absurd. Then let meoffer some “good reasons” to do it. Suppose we were trying to preach the gospel a culture of sea-faring people. They lived nearwater, worked on boats, ate a lot of fish and generally were all wrapped up culturally in all thingsrelated to the sea / water. Because of their religion (pagan idolatry) they celebrated every summer afeast to Neptune wherein they worshiped according to their ancient superstitions. Now, once they areexposed to the gospel, they turn their hearts to Jesus Christ. They learn the truth of God’s grace and theredemption that is through faith in His Son. But, what do we do with their pagan celebrations? It is here that we have two choices. One, we could teach them that their idolatry was vain, anempty expression of worshiping someone / something other than the True and Living God.iv They couldbe encouraged to abandon their festivals in favor of worshiping God in spirit and in truth.v Or, the otheroption would be to co-opt their pagan festival by giving it a Christian significance. In this way they couldcontinue to keep their day, their celebrations, their traditions, etc. as long as they embraced the newChristian flavor. Thus, WalkWaterMass is born. Instead of celebrating the god, Neptune, we will now celebrateour Lord Jesus on this day. Because Jesus walked on water, we can adapt our Christian faith to theirpagan celebrations, simply changing the names of things to make it appear “Christian”. We can worshipJesus (a good thing, no?) and have time for family, presents, feasting while we bring WalkWaterMassboats into our living rooms. Decorated with lights and tinsel we can smell the aroma of the sea and remember Jesus, how He got into the boat after walking on the water in the night. After all, who would object to celebrating such a wonderful miracle as Jesus walking on the water?vi Over time the celebration of Jesus walking on water will get lost in all the commercialism of the season. Emphasis on buying and giving presents, decorating the house with lights and putting up theWalkWaterMass boat will overwhelm any religious significance that the day may have held long ago. Awater skiing Saint Nicolas Cage will be invented and his boat full of presents pulled by 12 dashingmanatees will take center stage for the holiday. As the years pass the people will think less and lessabout the miracle of Jesus walking on water, so much so that the pious will begin to cry out, “Put Jesusback in WalkWaterMass.” Perhaps you have ceased reading and are no longer interested in this article. I understand.People do not like for others to tamper with their beloved traditions. Anyone who would dare tosuggest that WalkWaterMass is not really a day appointed by God to celebrate His Son, well… let’s justsay the message is not welcome in homes where the boat has been decorated and the presents are all 2
  3. 3. wrapped and the children wait expectantly on the night before WalkWaterMass for St. Nicholas Cage tocome down the shower faucet and deliver the toys. It is only in the theater of the absurd that we can recognize the absurdity of what we haveembraced in our lives as normal. I know the truth about WalkWaterMass. I know that God did NOTappoint a day to remember this miracle. Further, I am against the church celebrating such days in theName of God. Such celebrations would be without Divine approval. We know that men cannot justmake up religious days and put them on the church calendar. But some respond, “I like to celebrateWalkWaterMass as a secular holiday. It is fun. What is wrong with it? I LIKE having a boat in the livingroom all decorated and full of presents. We cannot deprive our children of this joy. They should not bemade to feel different from everyone else who is celebrating WalkWaterMass.” Right? When people ask me why I do not celebrate Christmas orEaster, it is hard to explain that I do not participate because Iwant to please God. I do not try to celebrate these holidays in a“secular” sense. I am not willing to embrace something that isclearly NOT appointed by God just because I think it is fun. Iprefer my truth unmixed with Catholic / Pagan / seculartraditions. I am aware that others feel differently. Some worktirelessly to put Christ back in Christmas. But, Jesus was NEVERin the Christ-mass wherein Catholicism adopted / adapted pagancelebrations into their church calendar. Others simply like toobserve a secular version of Xmas, sanitized of most if not allreligious content. Ignoring the original meanings of Christmas(both pagan and Catholic), there are people who simply enjoy allthe celebrating for celebration’s sake. I cannot comfortably fitinto either of these positions. I am not trying to steal Christmas from anyone. The world will have their celebrations and BlackFriday sales will continue as long as a Walmart stands on the corner. Trees will be cut down and bellswill ring outside of retail stores, holiday treats will be baked and letters will be sent to Santa inexpectation that he will deliver on our list of wishes at the appointed time (December 25). I have NOinterest in trying to steal your Christmas away from you. You can do whatever you want. What I would appreciate is for everyone else to NOT try to engage me in your celebrations. Donot feel sorry for me because I do not have a tree in my home, or wait for Santa Claus to come. I prefertruth in my life. If Christmas is a man-made, religious (now secular) holy day invented by men long ago,forgive me if I do not want to celebrate it. Try not to condemn me if I speak the truth about this so-called holiday. I do not condemn you for your participation in Christmas (Easter, Halloween, etc.). I seekonly to help you understand what you are doing.vii 3
  4. 4. Everything that is right and good and true about Christmas can be practiced anytime during the year. There is no “season” for benevolence. There is no limit on gift giving. One can worship God and be thankful for Jesus any day of the year. To be with family or to have a festive dinner is not wrong. One can engage in doing these good things anytime you desire (even in December, and may I dare say even on the 25th). No one has to surrender any good thing that pleases God simply because he rejects Christmas celebrations because they are NOT of God. Truth hurts. Perhaps that explains why some react so negatively to learn that Santa Claus is not real. In the same way, some feel hurt to learn that December 25 in NOT the day Jesus was born. It is like long held beliefs are being questioned. But does it matter how long I have believed something – if it is not true? Isn’t truth important?viii Perhaps it is time for those who truly seek to please God in these matters to understand WalkWaterMass for what it is. However, well intentioned the inventors of the holiday were, it is not from God.i Matthew 15:9 But in vain do they worship me, Teaching as their doctrines the precepts of men.ii Galatians 4:8-11 Howbeit at that time, not knowing God, ye were in bondage to them that by nature are no gods: 9 but now that ye have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how turn ye back again to the weak and beggarly rudiments, whereunto ye desire to be in bondage over again? 10 Ye observe days, and months, and seasons, and years. 11 I am afraid of you, lest by any means I have bestowed labor upon you in vain.iii Colossians 3:17 And whatsoever ye do, in word or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.iv 1 Thessalonians 1:8-9 For from you hath sounded forth the word of the Lord, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place your faith to God-ward is gone forth; so that we need not to speak anything. 9 For they themselves report concerning us what manner of entering in we had unto you; and how ye turned unto God from idols, to serve a living and true Godv John 4:24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship in spirit and truth.vi Matthew 14:24-33 But the boat was now in the midst of the sea, distressed by the waves; for the wind was contrary. 25 And in the fourth watch of the night he came unto them, walking upon the sea. 26 And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a ghost; and they cried out for fear. 27 But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. 28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto the upon the waters. 29 And he said, Come. And Peter went down from the boat, and walked upon the waters to come to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried out, saying, Lord, save me. 31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and took hold of him, and saith unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? 32 And when they were gone up into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 And they that were in the boat worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.vii Galatians 4:16 So then am I become your enemy, by telling you the truth?viii John 8:31-32 Jesus therefore said to those Jews that had believed him, If ye abide in my word, then are ye truly my disciples; 32 and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.Alan WilliamsonDecember 2011 4