…about that Christmas Tree…

Author’s noteAs I see Christmas Day bearing down on me, and wanting to eliminate any stress that I can!, I’m not attempting a special post for this December 25th.  Rather, I am reblogging again one from 2011. 

But I do want to make a very somber and serious observation on our times, one which I had been hearing about for a few years now, but wasn’t aware of in my own areas of life.  Franklin Graham hit the nail on the head in his article “The War on Christmas.”  By endorsing Rev. Graham’s thoughts on the ‘sacred nature of Christmas’ I might seem to be contradicting my own, expressed in the following post.  Not my intention at all!  Rather, the removal of God in Christ from any aspect of our society will leave us an emptiness & lack of joy that will only get worse.  I have never been so aware of hearing “Happy Holidays”, and not one “Merry Christmas.”  Twice, I wished cashiers “Merry Christmas” recently, and they seemed caught off-guard, flustered. I felt a little bit sad.  I had not realized how far along spiritual changes had progressed.

Even so, we who still believe, (regardless of how we do or don’t celebrate Christmas) keep on keeping on, looking within our own hearts & spirits, where Christ dwells, and shines.  And the darkness overcomes it not. 

ΑΩ

 

 

All around the world, people are preparing to celebrate that Holiday of all holidays, Christmas.  Like the siren call of myth, the lure of yuletide activity is almost impossible to resist.  Even the Scrooges I’ve known, still, amidst their bah humbugs! usually join in the celebrations, one way or another.  Just about everyone finds him or her self sitting around a Christmas tree, sharing food and exchanging gifts amidst garland, glitter and goodwill.  And those who aren’t able to, wish they were.

What is it about that Christmas tree?  I’ve been working on mine for awhile now, off & on, taking my time and ensuring that it is just right!  Why do almost all of us do it?

My money is on hope and expectation.

We think we’re ‘decorating a Christmas tree’, but the roots go much deeper than that.  People are looking for something better.  We want the comfort & contentment of security.  We want the release of joy.  I believe the decorated Christmas tree stands as a symbol & token of such things.   For myself, I find an almost inviolable sense of peace, of serenity as I gaze upon my own tree, with its twinkling lights and its sparkling elegance.  It is a silent and immoveable testimony to enduring abundance.

“I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”   (John 10:10)

~~~

Springing up around the centuries-old tradition of decorating a live evergreen tree at Christmas time are several different stories pointing to its origin.  Reading these accounts I learned that it was possible that Martin Luther himself had set this practice in motion…or St. Boniface…and the tradition began in Germany…no, wait, it was France…I’ve seen Egypt mentioned…well, actually, it looks like ancient Rome was where the practice first surfaced…

And speaking of the ancient Romans, their trees were just pieces of evergreen shrubs decorated with bits of metal, celebrating a winter festival (that ended on December 25) in honor of their god of agriculture, Saturnus.   The pagan god Bacchus was honored in a similar fashion as well.  And the prophet Jeremiah wrote of the cutting down & adorning of trees, declaring it a vain, heathen custom  (Jeremiah 10: 2–4).  So it does seem that what eventually became the symbol of the birth of the Saviour of the world, the Lord Jesus Christ, had its roots in pagan practices.

 I find it so amazing, then, that the ultimate outcome of God-less ritual became this universally recognized symbol of  true Life, eternal Life.  Talk about transformation!  Talk about restoration!  Talk about mortality being swallowed up of Life!  In fact, turning it inside out, who is to say that this very outcome was not the original intention of a  seed constrained within an outward expression of another sort.    Certain types of men “..hold the truth in unrighteousness.” (Romans 1:18) 

But the truth is still there.  When Ecclesiastes 3:11 speaks of God placing the world in their heart (the hearts of human beings), it is important to know that the more literal meaning of ‘world’ connotes a sense of eternity, and that which is concealed (Strong’s Concordance, Hebrew #5769, #5956.)  This awareness is placed within us all.  That is a good thing.  Those invisible things are understood by the visible, created things…such as a tree…but ‘vain imaginations’ (Romans 1:21)  darken hearts, and what is produced misses the mark. 

You end up with a raggedy shrub wearing scraps of metal.

How triumphant, then, is the glorious Christmas tree of today! 

 “…The evergreen theme continues to weave its way through the history of Christmas trees as a symbol of the promise of life to come…” (link)  While this statement refers to the warmth of spring after a cold, hard winter, there is another Parallel here.  The truth of eternal Life in Christ, who has abolished death!  bears witness of Itself throughout this same history.

~~~  

      

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…so, about that Christmas Tree?

 

All around the world, people are preparing to celebrate that Holiday of all holidays, Christmas.  Like the siren call of myth, the lure of yuletide activity is almost impossible to resist.  Even the Scrooges I’ve known, still, amidst their bah humbugs! usually join in the celebrations, one way or another.  Just about everyone finds him or her self sitting around a Christmas tree, sharing food and exchanging gifts amidst garland, glitter and goodwill.  And those who aren’t able to, wish they were.

What is it about that Christmas tree?  I’ve been working on mine for awhile now, off & on, taking my time and ensuring that it is just right!  Why do almost all of us do it?

My money is on hope and expectation.

We think we’re ‘decorating a Christmas tree’, but the roots go much deeper than that.  People are looking for something better.  We want the comfort & contentment of security.  We want the release of joy.  I believe the decorated Christmas tree stands as a symbol & token of such things.   For myself, I find an almost inviolable sense of peace, of serenity as I gaze upon my own tree, with its twinkling lights and its sparkling elegance.  It is a silent and immoveable testimony to enduring abundance.

“I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”   (John 10:10)

~~~

English: A Christmas Tree at HomeSpringing up around the centuries-old tradition of decorating a live evergreen tree at Christmas time are several different stories pointing to its origin.  Reading these accounts,  I learned that it was possible that Martin Luther himself had set this practice in motion…or St. Boniface…and the tradition began in Germany…no, wait, it was France…I’ve seen Egypt mentioned…well, actually, it looks like ancient Rome was where the practice first surfaced…

And speaking of the ancient Romans, their trees were just pieces of evergreen shrubs decorated with bits of metal, celebrating a winter festival (that ended on December 25) in honor of their god of agriculture, Saturnus.   The pagan god Bacchus was honored in a similar fashion as well.  And the prophet Jeremiah wrote of the cutting down & adorning of trees, declaring it a vain, heathen custom  (Jeremiah 10: 2–4).  So it does seem that what eventually became the symbol of the birth of the Saviour of the world, the Lord Jesus Christ, had its roots in pagan practices.

I find it so amazing, then, that the ultimate outcome of God-less ritual became this universally recognized symbol of  true Life, eternal Life.  Talk about transformation!  Talk about restoration!  Talk about mortality being swallowed up of Life!  In fact, turning it inside out, who is to say that this very outcome was not the original intention of a  seed constrained within an outward expression of another sort.    Certain types of men “..hold the truth in unrighteousness.” (Romans 1:18)

But the truth is still there.  When Ecclesiastes 3:11 speaks of God placing the world in their heart (the hearts of human beings), it is important to know that the more literal meaning of ‘world’ connotes a sense of eternity, and that which is concealed (Strong’s Concordance, Hebrew #5769, #5956.)  This awareness is placed within us all.  That is a good thing.  Those invisible things are understood by the visible, created things…such as a tree…but ‘vain imaginations’ (Romans 1:21)  darken hearts, and what is produced misses the mark.

You end up with a ragged shrub wearing scraps of metal.

How triumphant, then, is the glorious Christmas tree of today!

“…The evergreen theme continues to weave its way through the history of Christmas trees as a symbol of the promise of life to come…” (link)  While this statement refers to the warmth of spring after a cold, hard winter, there is another Parallel here.  The truth of eternal Life in Christ, who has abolished death!  bears witness of Itself throughout this same history.

~~~

…about that Christmas Tree…

All around the world, people are preparing to celebrate that Holiday of all holidays, Christmas.  Like the siren call of myth, the lure of yuletide activity is almost impossible to resist.  Even the Scrooges I’ve known, still, amidst their bah humbugs! usually join in the celebrations, one way or another.  Just about everyone finds him or her self sitting around a Christmas tree, sharing food and exchanging gifts amidst garland, glitter and goodwill.  And those who aren’t able to, wish they were.

What is it about that Christmas tree?  I’ve been working on mine for awhile now, off & on, taking my time and ensuring that it is just right!  Why do almost all of us do it?

My money is on hope and expectation.

We think we’re ‘decorating a Christmas tree’, but the roots go much deeper than that.  People are looking for something better.  We want the comfort & contentment of security.  We want the release of joy.  I believe the decorated Christmas tree stands as a symbol & token of such things.   For myself, I find an almost inviolable sense of peace, of serenity as I gaze upon my own tree, with its twinkling lights and its sparkling elegance.  It is a silent and immoveable testimony to enduring abundance.

“I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”   (John 10:10)

~~~

Springing up around the centuries-old tradition of decorating a live evergreen tree at Christmas time are several different stories pointing to its origin.  Reading these accounts I learned that it was possible that Martin Luther himself had set this practice in motion…or St. Boniface…and the tradition began in Germany…no, wait, it was France…I’ve seen Egypt mentioned…well, actually, it looks like ancient Rome was where the practice first surfaced…

And speaking of the ancient Romans, their trees were just pieces of evergreen shrubs decorated with bits of metal, celebrating a winter festival (that ended on December 25) in honor of their god of agriculture, Saturnus.   The pagan god Bacchus was honored in a similar fashion as well.  And the prophet Jeremiah wrote of the cutting down & adorning of trees, declaring it a vain, heathen custom  (Jeremiah 10: 2–4).  So it does seem that what eventually became the symbol of the birth of the Saviour of the world, the Lord Jesus Christ, had its roots in pagan practices.

 I find it so amazing, then, that the ultimate outcome of God-less ritual became this universally recognized symbol of  true Life, eternal Life.  Talk about transformation!  Talk about restoration!  Talk about mortality being swallowed up of Life!  In fact, turning it inside out, who is to say that this very outcome was not the original intention of a  seed constrained within an outward expression of another sort.    Certain types of men “..hold the truth in unrighteousness.” (Romans 1:18) 

But the truth is still there.  When Ecclesiastes 3:11 speaks of God placing the world in their heart (the hearts of human beings), it is important to know that the more literal meaning of ‘world’ connotes a sense of eternity, and that which is concealed (Strong’s Concordance, Hebrew #5769, #5956.)  This awareness is placed within us all.  That is a good thing.  Those invisible things are understood by the visible, created things…such as a tree…but ‘vain imaginations’ (Romans 1:21)  darken hearts, and what is produced misses the mark. 

You end up with a raggedy shrub wearing scraps of metal.

How triumphant, then, is the glorious Christmas tree of today! 

 “…The evergreen theme continues to weave its way through the history of Christmas trees as a symbol of the promise of life to come…” (link)  While this statement refers to the warmth of spring after a cold, hard winter, there is another Parallel here.  The truth of eternal Life in Christ, who has abolished death!  bears witness of Itself throughout this same history.

~~~  

      

…tis the Season !

Ah yes, it’s that time of year once again – when just about all of America, one way or another, gets caught up in the rush, pressure and joy that is  Christmas. Below is a re-post of some of my thoughts from the 2008 holiday season…                        

…on the Giving of Gifts, etc. at Christmas

For those of you who may have read my recent Christmas posts, I direct this, uh, warning: my next words will make it appear that I’m doing a complete 180′ on the whole ‘keeping Christ in Christmas’ theme. Be assured, that is not my intent at all! I just have a real problem with religiousness. Some don’t realize, so did Jesus…

Years back, I listened to a Christmas Eve message, via radio, broadcast by Jack Hayford, at that time pastor of the Church Along the Way (I think that was the name) in California. ‘Born-again’ celebrities attended his church. I think he is a very cool guy.

Pastor Jack was saying something like this: he had a real problem with ‘religiousness’, too, meaning, persons who had a thumbs-down ‘tude towards the celebratory aspects of the Christmas holiday, giving gifts, etc., and having parties. For the rest of my life, may I always remember what he declared next, with emphatic joy – Jesus BROUGHT the party!!!

“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus…”  (Romans 8:1)

This right here is a huge reason to celebrate, not only at Christmas but every time you realize that you are free. In Christ, under His blood, you cannot be legitimately accused before God. (And, for the record, I know what the second half of that verse says, and I also know that you’ll find those words in italics in some Bibles. Which means that those words are not in the original manuscript. Bible scholars added them, over time.) (That’s a story for another day.)

Now, some may say, the Magi ( the three wise men) brought gifts to the Christ at  His birth…so,there is our example, proving that God intends for men to commemorate that birth in a solemn, holy way, etc., etc. Let me burst your bubble – Jesus the ‘babe’ was born in a ‘manger’ (Luke 2: 15,16) , everybody knows that – but the wise men brought gifts to the ‘young child’ in a ‘house’. Time had elapsed. Not everybody knows that. Matthew 2: 9-11. Check it out. Also, the phrase ‘young child’ is used six times in that section of Scripture, so…it occurs to me, (and I stress that this is just my opinion) that the Lord, knowing future generations would condemn ‘worldly’ Yuletide tradition while insisting on religious custom, delayed the arrival of the Magi ’til well past Jesus’ actual birthday, deliberately not setting a precedent. I don’t see the Lord instituting this particular religious holiday, in any way, anywhere in the Scripture. Other than the magnificent, extraordinary appearance of the angels to the shepherds in the field, it seems like God the Father kept this whole event on the down-low. Other than the principle players, we have…let’s see…cows? Sheep? Donkeys? And if there would have been any pomp and circumstance, it arrived way late.

Which is not at all to say, Christmas shouldn’t be celebrated, in whatever fashion you choose. It is to say, however, (short of the ludicrous, dangerous, or  bizarre) don’t condemn others for the fashion they choose! As stated in an earlier post, (link) I believe God has placed an awareness of Himself in the hearts of men, (regardless of their conscious belief or not in Him), so…one way or another, Jesus Christ is celebrated.

~~~

“I am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.” (Revelation 1:8)

…on the Giving of Gifts, etc. at Christmas

For those of you who may have read my recent Christmas posts, I direct this, uh, warning: my next words will make it appear that I’m doing a complete 180′ on the whole ‘keeping Christ in Christmas’ theme. Be assured, that is not my intent at all! I just have a real problem with religiousness. Some don’t realize, so did Jesus…

Years back, I listened to a Christmas Eve message, via radio, broadcast by Jack Hayford, at that time pastor of the Church Along the Way (I think that was the name) in California. ‘Born-again’ celebrities attended his church. I think he is a very cool guy.

Pastor Jack was saying something like this: he had a real problem with ‘religiousness’, too, meaning, persons who had a thumbs-down ‘tude towards the celebratory aspects of the Christmas holiday, giving gifts, etc., and having parties. For the rest of my life, may I always remember what he declared next, with emphatic joy – Jesus BROUGHT the party!!!
“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus…” (Romans 8:1)
This right here is a huge reason to celebrate, not only at Christmas but every time you realize that you are free. In Christ, under His blood, you cannot be legitimately accused. (And, for the record, I know what the second half of that verse says, and I also know that you’ll find those words in italics in some Bibles. Which means that those words are not in the original manuscript. Bible scholars added them, over time.) (That’s a story for another day.)
Now, some may say, the Magi ( the three wise men) brought gifts to the Christ at His birth. So,there is our example, proving that God intends for men to commemorate that birth in a solemn, holy way, etc., etc. Let me burst your bubble – Jesus the ‘babe’ was born in a ‘manger’ (Luke 2: 15,16) , everybody knows that – but the wise men brought gifts to the ‘young child’ in a ‘house’. Time had elapsed. Not everybody knows that. Matthew 2: 9-11. Check it out. Also, the phrase ‘young child’ is used six times in that section of Scripture, so…it occurs to me, (and I stress that this is just my opinion) that the Lord, knowing future generations would condemn ‘worldly’ Yuletide tradition while insisting on religious custom, delayed the arrival of the Magi ’til well past Jesus’ actual birthday, deliberately not setting a precedent. I don’t see the Lord instituting this particular religious holiday, in any way, anywhere in the Scripture. Other than the magnificent, extraordinary appearance of the angels to the shepherds in the field, it seems like God the Father kept this whole event on the down-low. Other than the principle players, we have…let’s see…cows? Sheep? Donkeys? And if there would have been any pomp and circumstance, it arrived way late.

Which is not at all to say, Christmas shouldn’t be celebrated, in whatever fashion you choose. It is to say, however, (short of the ludicrous, dangerous or bizarre) don’t condemn others for the fashion they choose! As stated in an earlier post, (link) I believe God has placed an awareness of Himself in the hearts of men, (regardless of their conscious belief or not in Him), so…one way or another, Jesus Christ is celebrated.

“I am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.” (Revelation 1:8)