My daughter, Candace asked the other day, “Why is it ‘Christmas in July?’ If we wanted to celebrate Christmas half way through the year it should be ‘Christmas in June.’ That just sounds funny, but I suppose if it had always been ‘Christmas in June’ it wouldn’t sound funny.”
I did a little research and found a couple of reasons. Some felt that it was because we go through a sad period in July, so this helps to brighten and bring cheer to our lives. Some say it is a retail ploy to get us to buy during the summer months.
I think the real answer, however, is that the southern hemisphere is in their cooler climate during July. We equate Christmas with colder weather, so some brilliant person came up with the idea to capitalize on this idea and “Christmas in July” was born.
For those of us (meaning me) who love Christmas, this is the perfect opportunity to pull out Christmas decorations. I’ve been known to have Christmas in July parties and have decorated my home for such parties.
I think God knew we would love celebrations. He gave the Israelites many festivals and celebrations to fill their hearts with joy and hope. God instructed their use of these festivals for them to remember what He had done and for what He would do in the future.
While there are too many to mention here, there are many great websites with all the festivals listed in the Bible. One that I found interesting is http://maranathalife.com/teaching/jew-hol.htm.
There is a ton of information on this website, but I thought this piece of information was interesting. “You can divide the Jewish festivals into two distinct groups. The spring festivals showed the first coming of Christ, while the fall festivals showed the second coming.”
Maybe this is how we should look at our “two” Christmas’. The December Christmas to celebrate the first coming of Christ, His birth. The July Christmas to celebrate and anticipate His second coming. I’m not certain this will catch on, but it will change my way of thinking when it comes to Christmas in July.
The feast I’d like to chat about is the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:1-34; 23:26-32). While other feast and festivals are filled with dancing and food, this day brings fasting and purification.
On this day, the High Priest followed guidelines given by God. One goat is sacrificed for the sins of the Israelite people and a second goat is sent into the desert as a scapegoat. The scapegoat carried the sins of Israel with it.
As a Christian, I can see God’s foreshadow of the ultimate sacrifice in this day. The sacrifice freely given by His only Son Jesus meant that no others would need to be made. Jesus’ was “once and for all time.” (Hebrews 10:10 – NCV)
Hebrews chapter 10 goes on to tell us, “because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” (Hebrews 10:14 – NIV) Jesus’ one time sacrifice took on all of the world’s sin from that moment on. What a burden He carried to the cross. My burden. Your burden. Because of His great love.
How different our lives would be if Jesus had not come. If He wasn’t willing to offer this gift for us. I pray that I will never take His gift for granted and will solemnly accept what He’s given.
I do believe there is cause for celebration as well. My life is different because of Jesus. I don’t have to live with my sin for an entire year before asking for forgiveness. I don’t have to carry guilt and shame day after day. I am able to break free of its hold daily.
“Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15 – NIV)
“Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:25 – NIV)
“Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:57 – NIV)
Grace and peace be yours in abundance,