What Burmese Christians taught me about Christmas – 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17, Preview

Earlier this week I was talking with a member of the Burmese Church that my church rents to, and he asked us to pray because they are dealing with a situation in the Burmese Christian community.  Here’s what’s happening.  The Burmese Christians in America are eagerly posting on social media about the Christmas holidays.  Their pictures show smiling faces, holiday light displays, parties, gifts, and lots of joy.  It is totally normal that the Burmese Christians here are really enjoying the season.  Christmas is joyful!

At the same time, the situation in their home country, Myanmar, is horrible. I wrote about it a few weeks ago in a series of posts starting here. Many Christians there are fighting for their lives this Christmas.  Many are without work.  Many had to flee to the jungle because the military bulldozed their homes and towns.

The Christians in Myanmar see their brother and sister Christians in America enjoying peace, and that makes the ones in Myanmar feel upset.  Last year, Christmas in Myanmar was so joyful.  Their nation just had democratic elections, and things were looking great. Then this past February, the military staged a coup, and began oppressing people, including many Christians.  This year Christmas in Myanmar is awful.  Many will have no Christmas. Do you see how this has caused tension between the Burmese Christians in Myanmar and the Burmese Christians in America? 

Maybe you know the feeling.  This Christmas, I wonder, are you feeling more like our Burmese brothers and sisters in Christ here in the USA or more like our Burmese brothers and sisters in Christ in Myanmar?  There’s no doubt that Christmas can spur great joy and great sadness.  As we have been studying 2 Thessalonians for Advent, learning how to be Ready for Jesus’ Return, we have read that the Christians in Thessalonica faced extreme difficulty.  They were in a situation very similar to the Christians in Myanmar.  What will Paul say to help them get through this painful time? Read 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17, and then next week on the blog we’ll study this passage further.

Photo by Almos Bechtold on Unsplash

Published by joelkime

I love my wife, Michelle, and our four kids and two daughters-in-law. I serve at Faith Church and love our church family. I teach a course online from time to time, and in my free time I love to read and exercise, especially running,

4 thoughts on “What Burmese Christians taught me about Christmas – 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17, Preview

  1. It is naturally a pity to see how a pagant festival causes tension between the Burmese Christians in Myanmar and the Burmese Christians in America, but perhaps this gives more opportunity for those Burmese to think about that heathen festival of Christmas, and to do away with it. Though naturally in the North side of the world there are the darker days and the end of the civil year, which makes part of celebrations and family time. Against that is nothing. But celebrating the birth of someone who was born in October, to celebrate it on the day of the god of light is something Christians should not do, because it is an abomination in the eyes of the Only One True God above all gods.

    1. I am not a church history expert, so I could be wrong about this, but I am of the understanding that the ancient Christians, when they decided to celebrate the birth of Christ near the same time as Winter Solstice, they did so not to join pagan worship, but to counter it. In other words, theirs was an attempt to subvert pagan worship. That said, you are correct that it is highly unlikely that Jesus was born in late December. You mention October. Some scholars believe he was born in the spring. We simply do not know when he was born. But I don’t believe the ancient Christians were concerned about the actual day of his birth so much as they wanted to point people to the truth of who he was. In that sense, Christmas is not pagan. But clearly, many cultures around the world have co-opted Christmas, secularizing it, and paganizing it.

      1. That depends what you mean by “early.” I also used the description “ancient.” I was not referring to the early church in the time period in the book of Acts or the first century. But at some point after that, and probably not long after that, Christians did start celebrating the birth of Christ around the time of the Winter Solstice. I’m not so concerned about when they started doing so, but why they started doing so. I believe your original comment above is incorrect as to why they started celebrating Christmas. Obviously, no one, me included, knows the heart and mind of those early/ancient Christians, as to why they started celebrating Christmas. It could be that some wanted to syncretistically merge Christianity with Pagan religion. But as I said in my post above, my understanding was that they chose the Winter Solstice to counteract or subvert pagan religion, to try to reach pagans to help them turn away from paganism and become true disciples of Jesus. But I could easily be wrong about this. As I said, I am not an expert in this area of study.

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