The Christmas Bean

I'm not sure how the tradition got started. I think my daughter first started the idea since she was the best cake baker in our homeschool family. Every Christmas we baked a small cake for a birthday party in Sunday school for Jesus. Using only half the dough, my daughter decided to use the other half for individual cupcakes for our family. She thought decorating these cupcakes for each person at our Christmas Eve dinner would be fun, and then she had an inspiration. Why not hide an uncooked kidney bean in one of the cupcakes? The person who found the bean baked in his cupcake would be the first to open his gifts at Christmas.

Even today my daughter continues this Christmas tradition. In fact, our family's Christmas wouldn't be complete without it. That's how traditions get started, isn't it? Most times, traditions make our lives more meaningful. They give us a sense of security and a sense of roots and familiarity.

Unfortunately, traditions can sometimes sap the very life from us. When we allow the traditions and rituals in our worship to replace a vibrant relationship with Christ, we quench the Holy Spirit. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for this sin when He said, "But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men" (Matthew 15:9). God desires a circumcised heart that is tender and humble in worship. Paul warned the Colossians of the same problem: "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ" (Colossians 2:8).

Any tradition can replace true love and heartfelt responses, but we must be especially careful not to approach our holy God only with token rituals begun by man. Christ's response to the woman at the well says how we should worship best: "But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth" (John 4:23-24).

Lord, forgive me when I think I've worshiped You simply by going to church or offering up a prayer. Help me remember that in the family of God, You desire a heartfelt love in my worship. I offer my love to You anew. In Jesus' name, Amen.

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Comments(19 comments)

ELLEN S 12/20/2008 20:39:28

The Mass of Christ is a Catholic Tradition, replacing the Word of God in the same way that the Takenot of the Pharisees and Saducees replaced the Word of God. When Protestants (Protesting Catholics) observe Christmas, they are giving Catholic people confidence in their Pope. I love my Catholic friends, but I have to disagree, because I believe the Bible over the Pope. William Bradford referred to Christmas as "popish and other unchristian stuff." One can read in the Catholic Encyclopedia how the fourth Commandment was edited by the Catholic church. Chanukah has more to do with Messiah than the Mass of Christ. The Books of Maccabees were in the original 1611 King James BIble. What would Jesus do? See John 10:22 Chanukah means Dedication. Let's dedicate ourselves to God instead of to the traditions of man.

Blessings and happy Chanukah!

crista f 12/23/2008 21:38:33

is it any wonder why we feel like we need revived after a few months, years, reignite the passion and gratitude we had upon first accepting Christ into our lives and being forgiven?!!??!! We fall into traditions everywhere, even when we preach and consciously try not to!! everything from when and where we read our Bible, spend our quiet times, number of hymns/choruses sung during church, right on down to what order we do what in a service. Upon the day of one's salvation, whether it is on a street, at a friend's home, in prison or in a church, it felt liberating and we felt the freedom Christ came to give us...all because we initially were doing something we haven't done at all before or not in a long time! Hence it wasn't tradition to us!! Anyone else having an "ah-ha" moment??? I know in church everything must be done in decency and order, but we must be on guard of falling into vain traditions and repetitions that Jesus warned about. HE WHO THE SON SETS FREE IS FREE INDEED!! Now, i must go and finish wrapping our last minute gifts, it's a tradition ; ) God Bless and Merry Christmas!!

EILEEN M 12/20/2010 04:17:11

I feel very blessed to have the traditions of my Catholic Church to guide me on my faith journey. I do not feel that we\'ve \'replaced\' the Word of God with the Mass. Christ is the new paschal lamb and draws us ever more closer to God\'s Word. There are three bible passages read at every Mass. It is a beautiful experience. I believe many protestants are lead by the Holy Spirit too. I don\'t feel I need to \'protest\' against them but feel they are like life boats attached to the one true \'Mother Ship\' of the Church Christ founded.

ANDRA S 12/20/2010 06:29:22

To celebrate at the Mass knowing that my Catholic brothers and sisters all over the world and doing the same...reflecting on the same Bible readings adding their prayers and worship to my own.... is the most beautiful and amazing experience and it\'s what keeps me faithful through all the troubles of the Church. I suggest those who aren\'t Catholic shouldn\'t take the one or two things they think they know about Catholicism and post it at the end of a devotional meant to encourage others. I also suggest as good reading for a Catholic perspective on Tradition or Paradosis. Also Rome Sweet Home by Scott Hahn is an excellent book by a Protestant Minister\'s conversion story. He offers some thoughtful insight into the Church and it\'s beliefs. Merry Christmas!

PENNY H 12/20/2010 06:43:44

I think that Jesus\' intention when he said not to follow the traditions of men was to keep us from putting our faith in what we perceive to be the means to salvation, instead of the true means and source - Jesus Christ Himself. We can become so displaced in our theology by emphasizing works. Many in our society emphasize works as the means to the end - heaven. God is a very jealous and holy God and He cannot allow our works to produce true righteousness in us, such as is necessary to attain eternal life. \"Jesus said to him, \"I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.\" John 14:6 It is His righteousness in us that washes us and purifies us to fit us for Heaven. Without His redemptive blood shed on our behalf, and our acceptance of His redemptive work, believing in Him as the source of salvation for our souls, we are lost indeed and doomed to an eternal punishment in hell. He loves all of us and desires that none of us perish in hell, so He warns us to follow Him and not \"traditions of men\" that will lead us no where. If you are in Christ already you may still be tempted to follow the traditions of men in an attempt to \"feel\" worthy of His love and forgiveness. He desires us to be driven instead by His love and design for our lives. \"If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.\" I Corinthians 13:4 \"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.\" John 13:34 \"But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.\" I Corinthians 13:13 I personally struggle with loving as Christ loves, and it always causes problems between me and my brothers/sisters in Christ, and the world. Man-made traditions too can cause problems when emphasized above the love of Christ and expected to be adhered to in a religious manner, especially if these traditions are pushed on others as a law in themselves. As Christians we have Christ\'s perfect law written on our hearts. As we seek to love and serve Him daiily He will show us what to do, and we need not grasp and grope to find \"the Way\"; it is written on our hearts. God our Father, and Jesus His son - our savior, will guide us into all truth and will manifest His love through us, and will help us to walk in a manner worthy of the high call in Christ Jesus. We need not design an alternative plan in order to reflect His perfect way. We simply need to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and mind: \"And He said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, \'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.\" On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.\" Matthew 22:37-40 Let\'s begin there and then see where we end up in our \"religious\" traditions. This is a great challenge indeed!!! Merry Christmas to all who love Jesus!! God bless.

Jody F 12/20/2010 08:34:19

Oh how true this devotion is! We recently left our beloved church of 25 plus years for this very reason. We joined a small group willing to step out in faith to begin another church where hopefully this will never happen. We just experienced out first \"Christmas Program\" last evening and it was truly a gift that our children gave to the Lord. Those involved and also those watching were moved by the magnitude of feeling that emulated from these children. It has taught all of us that through bad circumstances - very good can come if we have faith enough to trust. Jody F.

TARA F 12/20/2010 14:20:01

Sometimes it is healthy for us to forgo the tradition we and our children expect just to re-evaluate the reason for which we do them.

\'Christmas\' should never take a more prominent position than the reason He came and the truth of the cross.

Let\'s remember that what we \'do\' or \'don\'t do\' does not make it any more special. God gave his Son. In humility He arrived. Yet in \'glitz\' we tend to celebrate it. Strange.

The poor Dalit boy in India, with \'no Christmas tradition\' experiences Christmas day just the same as we do in reality. What matters to Christ is, did the boy hear that He came, and died even for him.

That is Christmas. The trouble we have is helping our children understand that while under extreme distraction from the traditions of our society and even our churches.

Tara F

jai r 12/20/2010 14:49:29

love the bean idea! we used to make a birthday cake each christmas decorating it with, \'happy birthday Jesus!\". this was many years ago. i presume many of you feel that christmas has become so commercialized and has no religious meaning to it anymore to many. i used to say things like ,\'keep christ in christmas\'. after much research, ive found that christ was never in christmas. the christmas holiday isnt christian at all. it was constantine and the roman catholic church who layered this new \'christian\' holiday over the pagan one which celebrated the winter soltice on 12/25 each yr.&, the worship of salturania and mythra- to name a few pagan who were involved in the ritual. the celebration lasted for a week and included gift giving, dancing, orgies, feasts and more. this was the only way the church and constantine-who wanted christianity to be recognized as the one true religion-(although he himself did not accept christ as his one true God until he was on his death bed-his mother, however, was a true christian, according to history) to get the pagans on board. over the centuries, the pagan aspects continue but many christians and non christians alike, think that christmas is indeed a christian holiday, not a secular/pagan one, . mistletoe, yul log, decorated tree in home, gift giving, feasts, , the date itself, all have pagan origins. so, although it doesnt say to celebrate christs birth in the bible, it doesnt say not to either.(i was told it did indeed say not to celebrate birthdays in the book of jerimeiah, but i have yet to find any such scripture) i wrote all this because im curious for others opinions. i mean absolutly no offense to anyone. if u question my data on this matter,, there is much to found on this subject, please do a bit of research before u tell me im wrong. im more interested in the opinions of thoses who are aware of this and yet continue to celebrate this pagan holiday. i have 2 children and it is only now that i feel moved not to participate at all. which brings my heart much sorrow, as im sure, you, like i, enjoy the christmas holiday because of the excitement of the children and the gathering of family. i welcome your advice, comments. thank you, jennifer

BETH O 12/20/2011 04:22:01

We know all the pagan roots of Christmas and agree. We continue to celebrate, without gifts, because it is one of the few times of the year when the world is open to Christ. It is a chance to witness to unbelievers whom have no time for Christ at any other time of the year. Our family, which is large with 10 children, and a few friends went caroling the other night. We gave Chick tracks to each of the houses we caroled at. You should have seen and heard the appreciation. All of the carols we sang were entirely Christian.

Anyone concerned with pagan roots in Christianity should read the book Pagan Christianity by Frank Viola and George Barna. It is incredibly eye opening. They don\'t address Christmas, but all of the other pagan based rituals Christians follow.

MIKE D 12/20/2011 07:18:26

Having married a Catholic, I can certainly understand the conversation. I am a homeschooling dad and read this devotional most days. I agree with Beth on the George Barna book Pagan Christianity. It is a non-denominational look at all we do in the church and where those came from. I grew up in a non-denom church and was taught there is no \"religion\" only Christianity. When I married a Catholic, it caused lots of problems between me and my wife. We attended the Catholic church at her urging most weeks. All I felt there was empty ritual. I realized that God was calling me to be a spiritual leader and not a follower. Eventually we started attending a Missionary Church and we watched our marriage and our kids blossom in Christ. I am not dissing the Catholic Church, only making the statement that true growth in Christianity is not encouraged there, just going through the motions is considered exceptable and no one questions you. Almost as if you are part of a club and as long as you are in that club and do what they say, you are in. I would encourage anyone out there to read the book \"what every catholic shoud ask\". I can\'t think of the authors name but it is a good read. In the book he talks about the ten things a Catholic must do to get to heaven, including works, taking communion, and not dying with sin. Again, i don\'t want to condemn the catholic church, but this takes away from the very reason Jesus came in the first place. If we need to do all those things to get to heaven, why did Jesus have to come and die? For the Catholics out there, please don\'t respond to my post negatively--just read the book and ask yourselves the questions he puts out there. It is ok to question the higher ups in your religion--they are just men like you. And also read Pagan Christianity--every person that attends church should read that book.

DENISE R 12/20/2011 08:42:54

When Christ came and died for us he gave us liberty and freedom. This freedom includes the joy of worshipping him with our whole heart and connecting with him through the holy spirit to build a direct connection to Christ. I am nondenomination and love to worship not just in church service but all day everyday and allow the holy spirit to flow anytime and anywhere. Are you free to feel the connection and love of Christ at anytime and not follow a program. Think about the angels in heaven do you think they worship God the same way everyday or are they free to worship him as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We should be aligned with the angels in heaven in our worship and feel that same presence day by day and allow Christ to walk with us, talk with us and lead us in our worship.

PAT M 12/20/2011 09:31:45

We do the bean in our Three Kings day cake in January. This year buying a tree may not be in our budget; we don\'t have one yet. There was a big discussion about Christmas not being the same without a tree. We focus on Christ in our daily lives, but when it came to a change in our tradition that we connect with Jesus Birthday, we had a lot more talking about. They are ok now with the idea of not getting one.Iin fact, when I mentioned that we may be able to go look tonight and see if we can find one in our budget that we can afford, they said that it is ok if we don\'t go.

SARAH G 12/20/2011 09:57:10

Yes the roots of Christmas and most traditions in the chruch are based on older pagan customs. However because you now have this information does not mean you have to stop going to church or celebrating Christmas. The customs themselves were incorperated because the celebrations at that time of year were so large and important to the people that the Christians of the day knew they couldn\'t wipe them out, so they included them. Take the traditions, and center them around Christ. Do you know saying \"bless you\" when someone sneezes is because they used to believe the soul could escape the body when sneezing...does this stop you from blessing someone when they sneeze? No! Why? Because its an important part of our culture. Center your life and your traditions around Christ and stop being fretful! God loves you, whether you celebrate Christmas with presents or not.

SARAH G 12/20/2011 10:07:18

That said, I know many adults whose parents discovered Christmas\'s beginnings when they were children and stopped all Christmas from that point forward. These people are now some of the most bitter and angry toward anything concerning religion, Jesus and the Bible. They seem almost unreachable. I pray that if you decide to erase all Christmas that you do it in a way that doesn\'t damage your childrens relationship with God.

JENNY G 12/20/2011 18:31:18

I liked what you said Sarah. When I found out the true roots of Christmas, I wanted to stop celebrating, yet that would mean discontinuing a special time set aside to truly focus on the birth of the One and Only Saviour, JESUS CHRIST. So, like you said, we focus on Christ, why He came, and how we can show HIS love to others. So, my kids know that Jesus was not necessarily born on December 25th, yet He was born, lived a sinless life, and suffered and died for the sin of the whole world. Yes, the ONLY WAY you can go to heaven is to believe that salvation is a GIFT obtained by grace through faith in Jesus Christ ALONE. Christ did everything, we do nothing but believe.

SORETHA P 12/23/2011 12:29:17

Soretha P from South Africa

Hi dear Christ lovers, so sorry to read this only today but maybe all of you will go back to it and see this late comment!

Yes, its all true about pagan tradition around christmas and easter! Wow how dissapointing it was when you know you did it for all the right reasons and the world for all the wrong ones-God did say you cant worship Him or Mannon so lets think about this for a moment! As jenny G said jesus birth wasnt on 25th of december

12/20/2012 06:45:02

Just wanna share something about. Christmas. God can use anything to reach a dying world, so why limit Him. It was Christmas that God used. To help my sister and her children when she and her husband divorced. (Because of abuse and drugs). She has three small children and nowhere. To go. She moved in with my family and I. GOD\'S hand upon them they learned about Jesus in the midst of their trial. I was praying and asking God how to help them thru christmas. A woman called and asked I knew someone that needed help for Christmas. Every child in our house received 14 gifts a piece Christmas morning. With the knowledge it didn\'t come from Santa, but from Jesus. Every good and perfect gift comes from above. That

YChristmas changed all of us. Today my sister and i look for ways to allow God to use us as He leads to let others know Hes real and alive. Our children will tell you about that special Christmas when God showed up and how it effected them. No matter what someone else did in the past its what we do that counts. This year God brought an unsaved family in my life. I wont mis the opportunity to share Jesus. Thats what Christmas is all about. Loving others as Christ first loved us. Im praying for salvation in their household. (Thats the true message of Christmas) merry Christmas everyone. May the Lord bless you in the coming year

ELIZABETH N 12/20/2012 07:54:02

I was raised a Catholic, but the hypocrisy and back stabbing from church \'leaders\' I saw, plus the guilt trips were too much, and for a while I turned my back on God. How could he allow so much horror and suffering in his name?

I somehow went back to God in a general believing way, but it wasn\'t until I got sober and met a truly honorable man that I began searching for religion and to learn about Him. My grandfather told me the wisest thing I ever heard about searching for a church home- \"You know right from wrong. Just remember that there is Gods law (The Word) and mans interpretation of Gods law.\"

Needless to say that actually reading The Word has been a fulfillment of a wonderful spiritual journey. On any given day I can let my Bible just flip open, and in one way or another the passage will have a special meaning, even if I don\'t understand it at the time. Living my life by reading Gods word, following Jesus life and teaching, and listening to the Holy Spirit can guide any of us at any time. If it gives comfort for some to follow traditions or celebrate certain days, don\'t belittle them, be happy that they find fulfillment in God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.

Bethany R 12/20/2012 11:25:33

We stopped putting up a Christmas Tree, may years ago. We did this because of what we had learned of it\'s pagan origins. We didn\'t however stop celebrating Christmas because it is a time we gather with family and I don\'t want to loose that wonderful bonding time with those we love. Also my first husband passed away years ago, at Christmas time. I didn\'t want to change things for my children to much because of that.

Gifts just happen to be my love language and I still give my children gifts but they are not elaborate ones, mostly things of necessity. We also celebrate Hanukkah now and the other Biblical Holidays. We are tying to follow the Biblical Feast that the Bible outlines...after all these are the ones that Yeshua (Jesus\' Hebrew name) followed while he was on the earth and we are trying to follow His example in all that we do and say even when it comes to holidays.

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