Christmas and the World

Arno Froese

The following are three articles from various sources, some German, about Christmas, along with my commentary on each.

The Jewish View

In my opinion, Christmas may be the greatest holiday. I love its focus on home and hearth, cookies and carols and twinkling trees. And beyond its tinsel-tinged elements, I love the power of hope that is revived every Christmas in the story of a birth in a manger of a redeemer for this wounded world. And while Christians wait for his second coming, I love the legend that rooftops will be annually visited by that jolly old elf and his 12 flying reindeer. All this is spiritually and sensually intoxicating. On any level, Christmas is an extraordinary, alluring, magical and moving spiritual moment.

I have no desire to become a Christian, and I am happy to enjoy Christmas from a distance. Even though I admit that dreidels are no match for Christmas trees, and the Chanukah songs no match for Christmas carols, I am happy with my menorah and latkes. They are what I know, and they have their own magic. I also love Mattathias, the father of Judah Maccabee and four other sons who began the revolt against the Seleucid Greeks. The revolt, begun in 167 B.C., saved Judaism, and in doing so changed the course of the Western world. At the time of the Maccabees, Judaism was a small and failing religion. Gnosticism, and a host of now defunct religions were much more popular, and Judaism was struggling to stay afloat. Assimilation into these other faiths and secular assimilation into Greek culture had more than decimated my ancient faith. Judaism was in grave danger of dying out, and when Mattathias struck down a nearby assimilator and refused to worship a statue of Zeus that had been erected in the temple in Jerusalem, the die was cast. He and his five sons rallied Jewish military and religious support for their revolt and saved Judaism from disappearing.

Just as I am happy for, not with, my Muslim friends at their joyous feast ending Ramadan, so too I am also happy for, not with, my Christian friends on their glorious holiday of Christmas. Your Christmas lights dwarf my menorah, but your Christmas message of the power of a single luminous life reaches deep into my Jewish soul. With that unifying truth in our hearts, perhaps we can all soon learn to hear every holiday song, whether it’s ours or our neighbor’s, as parts of a single and sacred human harmony. Perhaps then we can taste every holiday food as part of your lush and living sacred banquet. Perhaps then every star will light the way to salvation and peace.

Marc Gellman, “A Holiday Meditation.”

www.msnbc.msn.com, 15 December 2006

Commentary: Such ecumenical tendencies will come to fruition, because the Jewish book—the Bible—clearly states, “all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him” (Revelation 13:8a). Revelation 16:14 describes the final confrontation; note the words “whole world.”

Incidentally, the Maccabees did not save Judaism, but the prophetic Word did: “Thus saith the Lord, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The Lord of hosts is his name: If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the Lord, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever” (Jeremiah 31:35-36).

The Majority Is Pagan

Dirk Pilz of the Berliner Zeitung accounts for a brain fog with regard to Christmas: “Christmas is a Christian festival; the holidays exist to peacefully commemorate the birth of Jesus. They exist to ensure church attendance and faith in this Christ, the Son of God. But all of this has become strange to the majority of our multicultural society. Christmas services are attended, at best, in order to get into the Christmas spirit. Gifts are exchanged to delight and to fulfill the obligations of tradition. Many no longer need to assure themselves of faith; they are simply unbelievers, perhaps agnostics, but not Christians in the narrower sense. And for the majority of children in this country, no Christ Child brings the Christmas bounty, but a pagan Santa Claus. However, hardly anyone wants to renounce Christmas, and accordingly the celebration of Christ’s birth. Especially at Christmas, this reveals the schizophrenic relationship with religion that shapes our culture nowadays.”

-ideaSpektrum, 1/2010 [translated from German]

Commentary: This indeed is a sad testimony to the land of the Reformer, Dr. Martin Luther. Religion in general and Christianity in particular has been neglected greatly. Many theologians and experts reveal the reason for the anti-religious mentality; namely, super success—peace, security, and prosperity. This reminds us of the church of Laodicea and their exclamation: “I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing” (Revelation 3:17a).

ALDI Christmas Ad

He was one of the richest men in the world and, with his brother Theo Jr., led a corporation that [just about] everyone knows: ALDI. At just 58 years of age, Berthold Albrecht, the head of ALDI-Nord, died in November 2012. The public knows very little about the Albrecht family. These wealthy Germans were publicity-shy. After the death of Berthold Albrecht, the Albrecht family had a full-page obituary printed in important daily newspapers, in which they clearly professed their Christian faith. But that isn’t all. In a long article with several Bible passages and a text by Protestant songwriter Jochen Klepper (1903-1942), the ALDI family tried to illuminate the Christmas message: that the world’s salvation can only be expected from the Christian God.

“Love isn’t just a beguiling feeling or a practical, helpful act, but above all the reason that bears me through life and makes my life more bearable. God carries me, bears me, and makes me bearable to others. He owes us nothing, but gives us everything. Advent prepares us for it. When God desires to come into the world, it takes time. But then the moment comes, the night is past, the day has dawned. This is the simple and practical realism of faith. I won’t be able to save the world today. But God will sustain and bear it. When we look up to the star that shines so wonderfully, then we say of it, from Jochen Klepper’s song, ‘Yet nights will bring their sadness and rob our hearts of peace, and sin in all its madness around us may increase. But now one Star is beaming whose rays have pierced the night: God comes for our redeeming from sin’s oppressive might.’”

Jesus Christ isn’t mentioned in the text itself. Yet the ad shows a serious belief that seems rooted in reflection on God’s Word.

-TOPIC, January 2013 [translated from German]

Commentary: We have no direct evidence whether the founder of ALDI, Theo Albrecht [father of Berthold] was a Christian by faith or tradition; what we do know is that he was Catholic. He died on 24 July 2010 in the city of Essen, Germany.

Midnight Call - 12/2018

Arno Froese is the executive director of Midnight Call Ministries and editor-in-chief of the acclaimed prophetic magazines Midnight Call and News From Israel. He has authored a number of well-received books, and has sponsored many prophecy conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. His extensive travels have contributed to his keen insight into Bible prophecy, as he sees it from an international perspective.

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