And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. (Luke 2:16)
(Edited from Morning Minute – December 27, 2005)
“CHRISTMAS" (Click on “Christmas” to read article in Wikipedia) is the annual festival celebrating the birth of Christ and is observed on December 25 in the western church. The word is a compound word meaning “Christ’s Mass,” the taking of the Eucharist, or Lord’s Supper. Old English Crīstesmæsse, a phrase first recorded in 1038 followed by the word Cristes-messe in 1131. The crèche, the babe in the manger with Mary and Joseph is the universal symbol of Christmas.
SINCE WE WERE TODDLERS we have known something about Christmas and each of us had it defined for us according to our family and church traditions. Church pageants in which children dressed up in robes and head dress and interacted with the manger and baby Jesus on stage, this taught us the basics. At home our family traditions taught us that Christmas was special. There was special food, decorations, and however many toys the family could afford. There was an evergreen tree with lights and beautiful ornaments, and gifts under the tree.
WITHE THAT GREAT VARIATION OF CHURCH-HOME INFLUENCE on our understanding of Christmas, we still came out with the common knowledge that it’s the birthday of the baby-Jesus. For the past several years those who feel strongly that “Jesus is the reason for the season” have been offended by merchants who want our Christmas money but want to sell us “holiday gifts” instead of “Christmas gifts.”
MERCHANTS HAVE CREATED A LOT OF ILL-WILL AGAINST THEMSELVES by trying to side-step Christmas celebration by calling it “The Holiday Season.” We won’t have it! And we have pushed back. In some areas the merchants are in a bind because Jewish Hanukkah (Celebration of Lights) occurs on December 25. And now Muslims want a special day. However, the Christian Christmas celebration is the one season that brings in the big bucks, not the other celebrations.
THE COMMERCIALIZING OF CHRISTMAS, removing “Christmas” from sight in the stores, and forbidding clerks from wishing customers “Merry Christmas” is where most Christians feel that Christ is being taken out of Christmas. However, having said that, we need to look deeper in recognizing that if we focus primarily on the symbols of Christmas, i.e. shopping, feasting and going crazy in general over the symbols, we have goaded ourselves into removing Christ from His own birthday celebration by our wild frenzy of celebration. In short, we have begun to celebrate celebration for its own sake.
MAY I SUGGEST A FEW THINGS THAT WILL HELP US ENJOY CHRISTMAS and direct our attention toward the real purpose of Christmas? The first suggestion I have is a radical one. You may want to forget the Santa Claus thing altogether. If he must be part of your family, explain that he is a “pretend” figure and not real. Limit his activity to filling a stocking with fruit, chocolate candy and nuts that you can devour before Christmas breakfast. All the other gifts are from family members in honor of Christ’s birthday. Santa Claus knows all things and can do “all things.” Therefore, he is omniscient (all-knowing) and omnipotent (all-powerful). Only God is omniscient and omnipotent. Therefore, Santa is claiming traits that only God has.
PLANNING FOR NEXT YEAR: start planning your family Christmas on December 26 of this year. This will help control your Christmas giving and other activities. Early planning can be a rough-draft of what the family can do and help avoid Christmas bankruptcy and insanity. Last-minute Christmas thinking and Christmas shopping make your Christmas an expensive night-mare. Taking advantage of after-Christmas sales can cut your cost of Christmas in half. Christmas cards cost less on December 26. Of course, food for Christmas and last-minute adjustments will have to be purchased in December just before Christmas.
AVOID FINANCING CHRISTMAS GIVING WITH CREDIT CARDS except what you can pay off in 30 days without incurring interest. If all the Christmas buyers in the family understand and practice this principle, the pain of Christmas will not last through the following year. This simple practice would transform the family Christmas of millions of families. In my opinion, nothing takes Christ out of Christmas like credit cards and the self-imposed pain of unnecessary debt.
MAKE AS MANY OF YOUR GIFTS AS POSSIBLE if there is a knack for making things in the family. Nothing is as personal as things made by the hands of the gift giver. Things made in the kitchen are personal. Be aware of this: a big fruit cake can cost you twenty bucks. Make fruit cakes in smaller baking pans and add fruit and nuts to add variety and savings. Mini-size fruit cakes are appreciated and enables you to size your fruit cake giving to the family size and taste. Encourage young children to begin making Christmas cards for family and their friends. If possible, involve your children in Christmas cooking and giving.
DECIDE EARLY HOW MANY OUTSIDE GROUPS you are going to exchange gifts with. Some church groups play “Dirty Santa” in church Christmas parties. Take a small gift, even a terrible gift and it is swapped around the circle 2-3 times; much fun, low cost. Don’t forget a little tin of goodies for the mail carrier, garbage carrier, hair-dresser, etc. Planning ahead will help you size your Christmas giving and hold down the costs.
SOME CHURCHES ADOPT A FAMILY OR TWO at Christmas time and post the sizes of the children on the church bulletin board. The family can also adopt a needy family or a needy individual. This is how the Saint Nicholas thing got started and served a good purpose before it got out of hand and he started coming down chimneys and stovepipes, and started living at the North Pole. Reindeer are real critters but keeping and feeding them all year is costly. Also, the kind of reindeer that fly tend to be temper mental and a bit pushy.
Avoid giving expensive gifts at Christmas. Consider buying larger gifts on birthdays when it is more appropriate. A new Toyota for Christmas may be a bit awkward, especially trying to explain it to the children.
HAVE SEVERAL DAYS OF CHRISTMAS. Advent is the period of four Sundays and weeks before Christmas (or sometimes from the 1st December to Christmas Day!). Advent means 'Coming' in Latin. This is the coming of Jesus into the world. Christians use the four Sundays and weeks of Advent to prepare and remember the real meaning of Christmas.
READ THE CHRISTMAS STORY FROM MATTHEW 1-2 AND LUKE 2 EVERY YEAR over a period of days. Study references to Christ’s birth from the Old Testament. Sing Christmas carols every day. Stand at the dining table, hold hands and sing before you are seated. Light two red or white candles on the dining table at one or more meals. Pray at mealtime and include the names of people who are sick or have some other special need for prayer.
PRAY FOR YOUR PASTOR AND FOR AT LEAST ONE MISSIONARY. Pray for America. Below is a link that gives you a more comprehensive picture of how many Christians observe the Christmas season. You may find ideas that fit you and your family. You will need to plan ahead several months if you wish to observe the Advent (coming) of Christmas. https://www.whychristmas.com/customs/advent.shtml
Read Through the Bible in a Year
DECEMBER 31, 2019 - TUESDAY
A.M. Malachi 1-4 P.M. Revelation 18
(Bible Gateway will read this to you if you like. Look for the speaker icon.)
A Good Verse to Memorize:
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. (Matthew 1:18)
Song for Today:
Unto Us a Son Is Given (4:15) – (Korean?)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vn5Tjo_8IlE (One day, all the nations who know Him will sing.)
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Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables with color. Eat more fruits and vegetables raw; eat something raw at every meal.
(This article is a total of 1378 words).