Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Sunday School

This Christmas season is the one-year mark of when God started making big changes in my heart and life.  Actually, He started months before then.  But this time a year ago was when I really started to see it. 

The changes have been nearly palpable.  A year ago I wanted to live in bed and had to force myself to work and church.

Next week I start teaching Sunday School.  (Voluntarily.)

I don't know that I have any real point to this post other than to ask for your prayers as I go into this endeavor.  We will be going through the book Crazy Love by Francis Chan.  I've been through this book at least twice on my own now, and I can honestly say it had led to huge changes in my life.  It has pointed me to my Creator and helped ignite a new desire for Him.  It's an incredible and powerful thing, and I want each person in our class to experience it too.

Specific prayer requests:
  • For the Spirit to soften and prepare hearts to receive His truth
  • For people to come whom God wants to be there (we currently average 6-8)
  • For hearts and minds to welcome thoughts and ideas that are a little non-traditional and possibly controversial
  • For people to actually read their books during the week
  • For people to act on any convictions of the Spirit
  • For lives to be transformed and changed
  • For each of us to incorporate into this study the practice of prayer from our last study
  • For wisdom as I present this material, and for only God's truth to come out of my mouth
  • For a renewed energy and passion of this material so I can commit the necessary time and effort toward preparation 
I truly appreciate your prayers!  If you are willing to commit to remembering us, please continue praying through the next three months or so.  I am excited to see how God works and changes lives through this study!

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Final Harvest

All harvest season long the farmers have been fighting the weather, steadily trying to bring in the corn and beans.  And all season long they've met delay after delay, whether from rain or snow or pulling grain carts and combines out of thigh-deep mud.

Even now as I've driven the South Dakota and Minnesota counrtysides to and from work, I see a handful of fields with corn and beans remaining.

I was driving home last Wednesday night, the jet-black sky further hindering the visibility of the road in the snow that was falling thick.

This was the start of the biggest snowstorm to hit the Midwest in decades.

As I came around a curve, big lights shone bright in a field off the highway.  A combine and a grain cart were hard at work to bring in the corn before it became impossible to operate.  The combine was quickly repositioning itself to resume its place after dumping a load of grain, its massive headlights only magnifying the appearance of the blanket of blowing snow hanging in the air.

These farmers knew that within hours, it would be impossible to finish the harvest.  This may even be their last shot altogether, because once snow falls in these parts, it's there to stay until spring arrives.

We, too, have a harvest to bring in.  Not of grain and produce, but one of souls.

The harvest is plentiful.

There are a few in this world that make up the faithful elect who labor endlessly and spend every ounce of themselves to point people to Him and help usher in the Kingdom.

But many others remain.  Others who see the fields white and ready, but do little to bring in the harvest.

We know a time is coming when we will no longer be able to finish this work.  Each day that passes brings us one day closer to that time.  Like the farmers laboring to bring in the harvest even as the storm begins, so we must labor to bring in the eternal harvest.

When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?

(Italicized verses from Matthew 9:37 and Luke 18:8.)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Baby Jesus In a Manger...Who Are You?

Baby Jesus in a manger, I love You...

In our Americanized homes and churches, we arrange Nativity scenes.  A Mary bent over a manger, a Joseph leaning on his staff, a sheep and a donkey peering over their shoulders, three Wise Men on bended knee...and a baby Jesus displayed in a feeding trough.

Lying there, to earth a stranger, I love You...

It blends in with the other decorations. Just another part of the season, lost amist the lights and garland and presents.

But this week, as I was listening to a Christmas sermon on one of my drives home, the Spirit opened my eyes just a crack to the magnificent reality of the awesomeness of this scene.  For He gave me a glimpse into the wonder that is God-made-flesh.

The Creator of the Universe is a mysterious Being.  If you've ever seen Louis Giglio's presentations, my guess is you were blown away by the huge infiniteness of our universe.  Earth isn't even a blip on the screen in the panoramic view of billions of galaxies. 

Our Creator spoke all of these into existance.

This same Creator carefully formed you inside the womb.  He knew you before you were even conceived.

He made everything around us - the earth, sea, trees, bugs, animals - with incredible detail.

He says to us, "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts (Isaiah 55:9)."  Now we can see a limited view of the cosmos that stretches for distances beyond comprehension.

His thoughts, His knowledge and plans...that's how far beyond us they are.

Shepherds heard the angels singing "I love You."

This Creator became a baby, limited Himself to the confines of flesh.

This little baby that looked like any other...this was the LORD.

What if this baby was in His little the very sanctuary where I worship?

What would I think, feel, as I saw this humble little baby and knew that God Himself was laying before me?

What would I do as I looked upon His infant face?  Fall on my knees?  Sing?  Cry?  Rejoice?

Would I dare hold Him?

I do not think my heart could handle such a thing.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Candy Cane Interpreted

I think this is the last Christmas Traditions post.  I hope you have enjoyed exploring our holiday practices with me.  I learned a great deal, and while many of our traditions don't share Christian roots, I feel better knowing their origins.  I still quite enjoy the beauty of lights and trees and carols, and I am comfortable adopting such traditions as my own, because they each still remind my why I celebrate this season in the first place.  The Creator of this great universe came down to our world as a tiny baby, and He is the reason that any of this matters to me at all.

If you are just joining, please peruse the several previous entries for more Christmas Traditions uncovered.

Personally, I prefer the cinnamon flavored ones.

I always eat the long stick part first, then eat the curve.  When I was younger, I would eat the stick down until it was level with the other side, making an even-shaped "U".  Then I would stick the whole thing in my mouth and pretend I had a retainer.  (I was one of those odd children who eagerly anticipated getting glasses and braces.  I thought they were cool.)

After hearing the Christian symbolism behind the details of the candy cane, I quickly accepted that as the true origin.

Once again, I have found this information to be not entirely true.

As Christmas trees became a popular tradition in European homes, people would often decorate them with small treats.  Straight white sticks of candy were one such treat.

According to tradition, in 1670 the choir director of a cathedral was irritated with fidgety and disruptive children during the living Nativity.  To encourage (or bribe) them into good behavior, he passed out these white candy sticks as an incentive.  He curved the sticks to represent a shepherd's staff, just like the staffs the shepherds used in the Nativity.

Red stripes were not added until after the start of the 20th century.  In fact, Christmas cards made before the 1900s show white candy canes; cards made after that time show the stripes.  When, where, and why the stripes appeared is unknown.  The common story is that a candymaker in Indiana fashioned the treats as a way to spread the Good News.  The hardness of the candy is representative of God the Rock.  White is for the purity of Jesus, born of a virgin.  Peppermint flavor symbolizes cleansing hyssop.  The curved top represents a shepherd's crook, or "J" for Jesus.  The red stripes are for Jesus' blood, and the three small stripes represent the Trinity - Father, Son, and Spirit.  (Explanations for the stripes vary.)

In the 1950s a machine was invented that enabled the mass production of candy canes.  Today, if you walk down any store aisle with Christmas candy, you'll see all kinds of variations:  traditional canes, tiny canes, extra large sticks, colors across the rainbow, and just about every flavor imaginable.

Like I said, I prefer the cinnamon.
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Friday, December 18, 2009

A Pear Tree With A What? And Why Are the Ladies Dancing?

If you're interested in any other Christmas traditions, it's possible I may have already posted about them.  Check out the last several previous posts to see if you can find what you're looking for.
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Last year the Christian radio station I listen to had a call-in competition drawn out over twelve days.  On day one, the caller had to finish the line from the song:  "On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me..."  Each day added another line, until on day twelve the caller had to complete all twelve days.

I can comfortably count down from about the seventh day of Christmas; anything above that gets a little shady.

As with just about any information available today, the roots of this song are controversial.  Some agree with Christian meanings, others deny the possibility.  And as with anything, you can use whatever information you find to fit the argument you wish to present.  (I found a good article supporting non-Christian roots for this song at, if you wish to read further.  This article swayed me to believe the secular origins to be more true than the religious.)

First of all, the twelve days begin on December 26th and end on January 6th. Some cultures celebrate Christmas during this time period rather than on December 25th. January 6th is referred to as Epiphany, marking the day the Magi visited baby Jesus.

Even though this song probably did not originate from Catholic persecution as many claim, the Christian interpretations giving to it in later years are still kind of fun.  I'm going to tell you what they are anyway.

So, here we go...

Day 1 - A Partridge in a Pear Tree:  The partridge represents Jesus and His devotion to His people, as a mother partridge is devoted to her chicks even to death.  The pear tree represents the cross that Jesus died on.

Day 2 - Two Turtle Doves:  Old and New Testaments

Day 3 - Three French Hens:  Three virtures of faith, hope, and love...or the three gifts of gold, frankencense, and myhrr given to baby Jesus by the Wise Men.

Day 4 - Four Calling Birds:  Four Gospels - Matthew, Mark, Luke, & John

Day 5 - Five Golden Rings:  The Law of Moses, Pentateuch, Torah...(all words for the first five books of the Bible)...Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, & Deuteronomy

Day 6 - Six Geese A-Laying:  Six days of creation in which God created all things.  Eggs may also represent new life, or creation.

Day 7 - Seven Swans A-Swimming:  Paul wrote about seven gifts of the Holy Spirit:  prophecy, ministry, teaching, exhortation, giving, leading, & compassion.

Day 8 - Eight Maids A-Milking:  The Beatitudes - those who are poor in spirit, who mourn, the meek, who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness.

Day 9 - Nine Ladies Dancing:  Fruit of the Spirit - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Day 10 - Ten Lords A-Leaping:  Ten Commandments

Day 11 - Eleven Pipers Piping:  The eleven faithful disciples (Judas was the twelth disciple, but betrayed Jesus)

Day 12 - Twelve Drummers Drumming:  Twelve points of belief in the Apostles' Creed.  (Refer to Rich Mullins' song "Creed" for an easy reference.)

Next post:  The Candy Cane, Interpreted


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Santa Who?

Welcome!  If you're here for the first time, this is merely one of many posts I've done recently about the history of our Christmas traditions.  If you're intrigued, please browse previous entries, and come back for more!
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I've had various phases of Santa Claus throughout my life.  In my younger years, I was like any other child, waiting in eager anticipation for his arrival to receive my gifts, yet inquiring details such as how he could get into our house since we had no chimney.

Eventually I learned the truth behind the magic of presents appearing under our tree.  Santa became just another thing of Christmas.

In my more recent years, images of his face seen everywhere induce a creepy factor that ranks a little below that of Ronald McDonald.

All in all, Santa seems to dominate Christmas much more than baby Jesus.  That has been a source of irritation to me...until I started to learn where Santa came from in the first place.  Admittedly, this led to a sense of satisfaction that though people may try to keep Jesus out of Christmas, their celebration of Santa Claus still stems from deeply embedded Christian roots.

Santa Claus (through the course of language root words and translations over the years) came from the Saint Nicholas, born somewhere between the years 260-280 AD in what is now modern-day Turkey.  He was raised to be a devout Christian.  His wealthy parents died when he was still young, leaving him a substantial inheritance.  The young Nicholas took Jesus' words to heart to sell all his possessions and give to the poor, ultimately giving away his inheritance to those who needed the help.

He lived a life dedicated to God and was eventually named Bishop of Myra.  He was well-known for his generosity and concern for the poor, particularly children.  He traveled throughout the land, helping whoever he could.  It is said that he did not like to be seen giving money and gifts, so he would leave his gifts at night, sometimes tossing them in through open windows.

Probably the most popular story I read (with varying details, of course) tells of a poor man with three daughters.  The time came for the daughters to be married, but the father could not afford a dowry for each of them.  He decided to sell one of the daughters into slavery to provide a dowry for the other two.  Nicholas heard of this, and left three bags of gold at this family's house - one for each daughter - to provide for the dowry and prevent the one daughter from being sold.

During Nicholas's life, the Emporer Diocletian began persecuting Christians.  Nicholas was thrown into prison for five years.  Once the Emporer was replaced by Constantine, Nicholas was released and he resumed his life's work.

Nicholas died in the year 313 AD.  His life and good works led people to celebrate him for years to come.  His name eventually made it over to early America, where his character has grown and evolved into a red-suited obese man who lives at the North Pole.

In the 1800s, Santa Claus was said to drive a wagon pulled by horses and dropped gifts down chimneys.  He was also described as smoking a pipe and wearing baggy pants.  Later, the famous poem "The Night Before Christmas" was written, thus creating the image of a man who rode in a flying sleigh pulled by eight tiny reindeer, among other descriptors.

All throughout the world Santa is celebrated as part of the winter season.  Each culture varies in their practices, from hanging stockings over the fireplace to leaving wooden shoes on the doorstep.  But regardless of the arrival of gifts, Santa remains known as a generous man who bestows his wealth on children.

Next post:  A Pear Tree with a What?  And Why Are the Ladies Dancing?


Monday, December 14, 2009

Mary's Journal - A Shared Post

My friend Lyla over at A Different Story has been pondering the life of Mary, mother of Jesus, these past several days.  We were chatting last night when she asked me if I thought Mary's journal would be worth reading, and what she would have written.  Mary did a lot of pondering, much treasuring of things in her heart.  So Lyla posted the question on her blog, and I offered a response.  After you read them below, (or before you read, I suppose) please drop by her page and offer your own thoughts.

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My question for you is this: Once the shepherds packed up their dusty gear and tore out through the streets to praise God, what might Mary have written on her page for that day?

Would you share what you imagine Mary may have pondered and treasured in the comment box with us today?

Every difficulty from the past nine months – the probing questions of disbelief, the near-divorce, the disownment by my own family, feeling suddenly lost in this dark world with only my faith to cling to, my own doubts – all these things slipped away as I stared into the eyes of my son for the first time tonight. The miracle of new life is beyond anything I imagined.

Poor Joseph is trying so hard. He struggles with doubt too, worse than mine. How can he possibly believe that I remained faithful, yet now carry the child of Another? He wants so badly to believe, but it has cost him dearly as well. What family wants their son to marry the girl who was unfaithful? Yet I can see it in his eyes tonight as he holds his son, this new hope and joy refreshed.

This child…this little baby…he was born to save the world. To save me. I am not just a mother. I am responsible for raising a King.

How? Father…how? The task overwhelms me.

And then…then these grubby shepherds showed up. He was born, we cleaned him up, and had barely settled down to rest when these young rag-tag smelly boys burst into the barn. But they were so excited we couldn’t send them away. It was hard to hear what they were saying because they kept trying to talk over each other. Something about angels appearing in the sky out in the field where their sheep were. The angels told them Jesus had been born and to come see and worship.

Why them? Why should anyone know? What about this picture would cause anyone to believe anything great has happened? I’m seen as an unfaithful wife, bearing my husband an illegitimate child. We are forced to sleep with the smelly animals. We are nobodies from nowhere.

Yet…if this baby is really who God says he is…why not everyone? Where are the leaders, and where is the king?

These young boys have left an image in my mind I will never forget. Such tender hearts, such poor lives. But they get something that no one else has grasped yet. They know this baby is something great. And that seems to be enough for them.
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To go directly to Lyla's post and read other's comments, or to enter your own, click here.  On Wednesday we'll return to our regularly scheduled looks at Christmas Traditions, specifically - Santa Claus.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Why Do I Have to Buy You a Gift?

 Been researching Christmas.  The list of previous blogs on these topics is becoming too long to keep linking to each time, so feel free to browse through the several posts prior to this one.
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I used to suffer from gift shame.  Well, more than I do now, anyway.  You know...that feeling you get when someone gets you a gift and you didn't get them anything.  So then you feel the need to go do something about it, like buy a bigger and more expensive gift...

But that's not the point of this post.

I always used to think that giving gifts at Christmas time symbolized the wisemen giving their gifts to the Christ child.

Not totally untrue, if you take a Christian stance on the matter.

However, gifts were being given long before the arrival of baby Jesus.  Ancient Rome seems to have the longest-standing record.  In those times, officials were expected to bring gifts to the Emperor.  Eventually the practice spread amongst the commonfolk as well.

Good ol' Saint Nick seems to have had an influence on this practice as well.  After all, he was known for being quite the charitable guy.  (More on him next time...) 

In America, exchanging gifts began around the 1820 era.  Gifts were small and simple (fruit or pieces of candy).  Over the years, gifts evolved from small snacks to huge and massive commercial products, as I'm sure you've well noticed.

Not a whole lot to offer on this topic.  But stay tuned...more to come...

Next post:  Santa Who?


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

What Does the Christmas Tree Have to do with Christ?

To read what I've learned thus far about other Christmas traditions, check out this post, this post, and this post.
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What does the Christmas tree have to do with Christ?
Well...nothing, really.

...or does it?

The Christmas tree is also a tradition that originates from cultures of centuries past.  Remember the winter solstice celebrations?  Greenery of all kinds was used throughout cultures for varying reasons.  Some people hung evergreen boughs over their doors to keep evil spirits away, while other people used them as a reminder that all green plants would soon begin to grow as the sun god recovered from his winter illness.

The use of an actual tree may or may not have Christian roots.  There are several legends...stories...whatever you want to call them...that offer explanations for the Christmas tree.  As to which one is true...Google literature is conflicted about this, so I'll let you come to your own conclusions.

It is generally agreed upon that the first use of trees can be credited to the German Christians.  Perhaps the earliest story is from the year 722.  Saint Boniface was a monk who happened upon some people gathered around an oak tree, preparing to sacrifice a child to a god.  Boniface knocked the tree down to stop the sacrifice, and up grew a small fir tree.  He used the triangular shape of the fir to symbolize the holy Trinity - Father, Son, and Spirit.  People then began to revere the fir as they had once revered the oak, and began hanging the trees upside-down from their ceilings.

Another story tells of Martin Luther, who was walking home one winter night and was rendered speechless by a brilliant night sky hanging behind the trees.  He was so inspired that he brought a tree into his home and decorated it with lit candles to recreate the starry image for his family.

Paradise Plays were done in the 11th century.  These plays told the story of Adam and Eve, their eating of the forbidden fruit, and their banishment from the Garden.  The only stage prop was a fir tree decorated with apples.  This was celebrated on December 24th.

There's also a cute story about Christmas trees, animals, and spiders.  Long ago, people used to invite their animals inside to view the tree.  After all, animals were first present in the stable when Jesus was born.  But the spiders were banned, because the housewives didn't want to have to clean up their webs.  Feeling left out, the spiders went to the Christ Child and complained of this.  Late at night, the Child let the spiders into the house to see the tree when no one else was around.  The spiders were so excited about the tree that they covered its branches in webs.  The Child turned their webs into sparkling tinsel, which thrilled the housewives when they saw it.  Thus, tinsel was born.

Fast-forward a few hundred years to America.  The Christmas tree was eventually adopted into our culture...but not without reservations.  The conservative Puritans didn't want to defile a holy celebration with pagan rituals.  But after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were pictured around a Christmas tree, the trend quickly became widely accepted in American homes.

And here we are today.  As I type, I am sitting only inches away from my own six-foot prelit tree.  This year I have it decked out in shiny red strings of beads, bright red glass balls, silver bows, and red candy canes.  Simple, but elegant, if I do say so myself.

Looking at a brightly-lit tree in my living room is one of my favorite parts of the season.  : )


Monday, December 7, 2009

Where Did Our American Christmas Traditions Come From?

Welcome back!  If you're just now dropping by, you might want to visit the previous couple of posts to catch up to speed on my research of Christmas and its traditions: here and here.
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Where did our American Christmas traditions come from?
Our current American Christmas traditions are a far cry from those of the early Roman winter solstice celebrations.  In fact, early American celebrations mimicked the ancient chaos and noise.  But things gradually shifted to a more calm and serene picture, thanks to a few specific influences.

In 1819, Washington Irving wrote The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon, gent.  This was a story of a wealthy man who welcomed the poor into his home for Christmas.  These different social classes intermingled and celebrated many "traditions" together.  Irving's story perhaps helped recreate a warm, friendly, generous image of the holiday.  Many of the traditions he wrote about are thought to have been made up.

Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol around this time as well.  It, of course, encouraged peace and sharing.

In 1828, New York City instituted its first police force because Christmas riots were getting out of hand.

I found this statement from my source interesting:  The family was also becoming less disciplined and more sensitive to the emotional needs of children during the early 1800s.  (I would say this practice has never stopped and can be seen on the extreme far opposite end of the spectrum today...but that's for another post that I will never write until I have children and can thus escape the criticism of writing something I know nothing about.)  Christmas became an excuse for parents to dump gifts on their kids that they normally wouldn't give otherwise.

Many traditions were resurrected from other cultures and customs as Christmas gained popularity in the States.  Americans fell back on these old traditions because they didn't know what Christmas celebrating was supposed to look like.  Over the course of the years, traditions have been adopted and adapted, and continue to grow and change today.

Next post:  What Does the Christmas Tree Have to do with Christ?

Friday, December 4, 2009

Why Christians Claim December 25th as Jesus' Birth

I'm in the middle of exploring our Christmas traditions - why we do what we do this time of year.  This is the first post of several based on what I've uncovered regarding our various practices.  Read my previous post for a complete explanation of my endeavors.
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Why December 25th?
The date isn't so significant as the season. Ancients celebrated the winter solstice (the half-way point of winter), and each culture had their own significance to this period of time.

Germans honored the god Oden, whom was believed to fly around during the night and decide which people would live or die.

Romans celebrated Saturn, the god of agriculture. Society was turned upside-down for a month, with slaves commanding their masters and peasants ruling the city. Businesses and schools shut down so everyone could get in on the action. They also celebrated the birth of Mithra, god of the unconquerable sun, on December 25th.

Europeans in general found the winter solstice a convenient time to celebrate. They slaughtered livestock because it was hard to feed entire herds during the winter, and thus they had a new supply of fresh meat. Beer and wine hit their fermented stage at this time as well and flowed aplenty. (Invite a few friends over, throw a steak on the grill, pop open a can of beer...)

It wasn't until the fourth century that church officials decided to declare Jesus' birthday a holiday. Since no one knew for sure when that was, Pope Julius I declared December 25 to be the lucky day. It's possible that this season was chosen in an attempt to either mix and mingle with pagan traditions, or to draw pagan society into embracing this new celebration.

Contrary to current practices, the Christmas season - or winter solstice, rather - was quite the riotous and chaotic time. The Roman society was not one of peace and order. Combine that with beer, wine, and people who love to party...get the picture?

Puritans actually tried to outlaw celebrating anything Christmas. In fact, when they immigrated to America from England in 1620, they did not bring tradition with them. For twenty-two years (1659-1681), it was illegal in Boston to celebrate. Guilty parties were fined five shillings. (However, just down the road in Jamestown, Christmas was well recognized.)

Finally, after the American Revolution, English customs were dismissed. Christmas celebrations were officially restored on December 25, 1789, and continue today.

Next post:  Where Did Our American Christmas Traditions Come From?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

'Tis the Season

Every once in a while I stumble across new information that I wish I could have bypassed altogether. I prefer to know what's already in my head and not have it all messed up by a truth that somehow escaped me previously.

What tripped me up this time?


It all started when I was having a conversation with a friend about Jesus. She was throwing questions at me left and right, which was fine with me because I could answer most of them. But then she asked me one that started this whole mental fiasco.

Jesus was born on December 25th, right?

Well, no, not necessarily, I replied. No one really knows for sure when He was born. We just adopted that date as His birthday to celebrate.

This is the God Christians worship, and they don't even know when He was born???

My friend was borderline-outraged at this thought. You see, she grew up in a place where Hindu is the prominant religion. She knows much more than I do about some of the world religions, and she was quick to point out that, while other faiths may not be true, they at least know their gods' date of birth.

How can the one true religion not even know when Jesus was born??

It was a thought that's never bugged me, so I simply brushed aside her indignation and asked her why it really mattered at all. But after I thought about it some, her argument kind of made sense to me. While a single birthdate seemed like such an insignificant detail to me, it's also a basic piece of information into anyone's identity. Christians try to proclaim Jesus - how can we not know such an easy detail?

I digress.

As she and I were having our conversation via instant messenger, I was googling information about Christmas traditions that we practice.

And that is where I tripped up.

You see, I thought I already knew the importance behind the main traditions - the manger scene, the star, the wise men, angels, presents, the date. I figured the Christmas holiday descended from ancient Christian celebration.

I was dismayed to learn that many of the things we do each Christmas season evolved from pagan rituals, of all things. I also quickly learned that there were many other traditions that I know nothing about. Why do we have Christmas trees? Why exactly do we give gifts? Who decided Santa enters homes through the chimney?

I finally came to terms with this new realm of knowledge and decided that if I'm going to participate in holiday traditions and at the same time try to post Jesus' Name all over them, I should probably understand what it is I'm doing. we go. I'm going to post what I learn over the course of several days, as this would otherwise become an exceedingly and unnecessarily long post. I hope you stick with me through this - otherwise things may seem random and confusing.

Ultimately, exploring these things has led me to really question why I am celebrating this season in the ways that I do. I don't like the thought of having a Christmas season in which Christ is largely left out. But I'm also coming to terms with participating in a common and cultural practice simply for the sake of participation. Somewhere in between is a balance of fun human traditions and a celebration that revolves around the One I worship.

Next post: Why Christians Claim December 25th as Jesus' Birth.


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