Tuesday, December 22, 2009

(Following my last post I received this from a sister in Christ. It is well worth reading. Thanks for sharing it Marla.)

Letter from Jesus about Christmas --

Dear Children,
It has come to my attention that many of you are upset that folks are taking My name out of the season. Maybe you've forgotten that I wasn't actually born during this time of the year and that it was some of your predecessors who decided to celebrate My birthday on what was actually a time of pagan festival. . . although I do appreciate being remembered anytime.

How I personally feel about this celebration can probably be most easily understood by those of you who have been blessed with children of your own. I don't care what you call the day. If you want to celebrate My birth, just GET ALONG AND LOVE ONE ANOTHER.

Now, having said that let Me go on. If it bothers you that the town in which you live doesn't allow a scene depicting My birth, then just get rid of a couple of Santas and snowmen and put in a small Nativity scene on your own front lawn. If all My followers did that there wouldn't be any need for such a scene on the town square because there would be many of them all around town.

Stop worrying about the fact that people are calling the tree a holiday tree, instead of a Christmas tree. It was I who made all trees. You can remember Me anytime you see any tree. Decorate a grape vine if you wish: I actually spoke of that one in a teaching, explaining who I am in relation to you and what each of our tasks were. If you have forgotten that one, look up John 15: 1 - 8.

If you want to give Me a present in remembrance of My birth here is my wish list. Choose something from it:
  • 1. Instead of writing protest letters objecting to the way My birthday is being celebrated, write letters of love and hope to soldiers away from home. They are terribly afraid and lonely this time of year. I know, they tell Me all the time.
  • 2. Visit someone in a nursing home... Not just during Christmas time, but all through the year. You don't have to know them personally. They just need to know that someone cares about them.
  • 3. Instead of writing the president complaining about the wording on the cards his staff sends out this year, why don't you write and tell him that you'll be praying for him and his family? Then follow up. It will be nice hearing from you again.
  • 4. Instead of giving your children a lot of gifts you can't afford and they don't need, spend time with them. Tell them the story of My birth, and why I came to live with you down here. Hold them in your arms and remind them that I love them.
  • 5. Pick someone that has hurt you in the past and forgive him or her.
  • 6. Did you know that someone in your town will attempt to take their own life this season because they feel so alone and hopeless? Since you don't know who that person is, try giving everyone you meet a warm smile; it could make the difference.
  • 7. Instead of nit picking about what the retailer in your town calls the holiday, be patient with the people who work there. Give them a warm smile and a kind word. Even if they aren't allowed to wish you a "Merry Christmas" that doesn't keep you from wishing them one. Then stop shopping there on Sunday. If the store didn't make so much money on that day they'd close and let their employees spend the day at home with their families
  • 8. If you really want to make a difference, support a missionary-- especially one who takes My love and Good News to those who have never heard My name.
  • 9. Here's a good one. There are individuals and whole families in your town who not only will have no "Christmas" tree, but neither will they have any presents to give or receive. If you don't know them, buy some food and a few gifts and give them to the Salvation Army or some other charity which believes in Me and they will make the delivery for you.
  • 10. Finally, if you want to make a statement about your belief in and loyalty to Me, then behave like a Christian. Don't do things in secret that you wouldn't do in My presence. Let people know by your actions and words that you are one of mine.

Don't forget; I am God and can take care of Myself. Just love Me and do what I have told you to do. I'll take care of all the rest. Check out the list above and get to work; time is short. I'll help you, but the ball is now in your court. And do have a most blessed Christmas with all those whom you love and remember :



Monday, December 07, 2009

What About Christmas?
Each year I get some version of this question. Lately, it seems to be coming up more than it used to. Traditionally, members of the church of Christ, at least during in my life time, have taken a non-birthday view of the holiday. The rationale usually goes something like this:
  • Acts 1:7-8 "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. (NKJV) Therefore, we should not put one day above another.
  • The history of Christmas is of Catholic origin. The term Christmas appeared in Old English as early as 1038 AD as Cristes Maesse, and later as Cristes-messe in 1131 AD. It means "the Mass of Christ." (http://christianity.about.com/od/christmas/f/christmashistor.htm)
  • The history of Christmas is of pagan origin. Corresponding to the winter solstice. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas)
  • The date of Christ's actual birth is unknown. It is not recorded in the Bible.
  • It is the wrong time of the year. Shepherds would not be in the field in winter. Luke 2:8 "Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night." NKJV

While I could recite other objections, I give these as those that I have heard and considered in my own search for an answer to this question. Historically, churches of Christ tend not to have Singing Christmas Trees programs, Christmas Cantatas, Manger Scenes or Christmas plays/ programs. In the past few years this seems to be changing among some churches of Christ.

I have decided this is a Mars Hill situation for me. Acts 17:22-23 "Paul stood in the midst of Mars' Hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. 23 For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN God. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you." KJV By that I mean, just as Paul spoke to the Athenians about Jesus, I can speak to a Christmas saturated society about Jesus.

Over the years I have preached sermons with tiles like: "More Than A Manger," "Wise Men Still Seek Him," "No Room in the Inn." My prayer is that God will use these lessons to help me proclaim, "...the way of God more perfectly." (Acts 18:26 - KJV)
I am fully aware that all my brethren do not agree with me. I mean this both literally and figuratively. I find myself identifying with the apostle Paul as he studied the question of eating meats offered to idols recorded in 1 Corinthians 8:4-13. I note, verse 13, "Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble." NKJV. While this verse could be taken out of context and used to say, "don’t do anything lest you offend," Paul is really saying, in context, that it is ok; but I will not cause a brother to lose his soul over a matter of conscience...not just his preference but his conscience.

So, What about Christmas? I do not believe any student of the Bible will claim that Jesus was born on December 25. However, I hope that all will acknowledge that He was born of a virgin.

Whatever theological differences exist regarding the birth of Jesus, I am thankful that He was born, died for my sins, was resurrected, and has prepared a place in heaven for those who serve Him. Philippians 1:18 says, "in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice , yes, and will rejoice" NKJV. So, I am thankful for any reason the world is interested in Christ Jesus.

If you hear me say, "Merry Christmas," just know I believe this is more than a baby in manger. His story is the greatest story ever told.

I found the quote below from Alexander Campbell very interesting:
MUSINGS ON CHRISTMAS MORNING. THIS morning being Christmas, and, as the Roman superstition would have it, the nativity of man's Redeemer; assuming it as true, my thoughts naturally lead me to Bethlehem, Calvary, and the sepulchre of Joseph. And what mysterious, sublime, and animating associations cluster around those three places! How near the point of distance! Eight short miles measured the whole space from the manger to the cross! And how short the interval of time between the first birth from Mary, and the second birth from Joseph's tomb, of Arimathea! Not quite the half of three-score-years-and-ten completes the labors and the life of Heaven's and Earth's First Born! And yet what scenes and transactions crowd this narrow space of earth, and this short interval of time! -The Millennial Harbinger, January, 1844. (http://www.mun.ca/rels/restmov/texts/acampbell/mh1844/MOCM.HTM)