I give God the glory and celebrate a commemorative birth. Countdown to Christmas Blog!
The muddy slush piles up against the curb and trampled footprints scatter about as the sidewalks are covered in our first snow. Storefronts capitalize on impending Christmas shopping; windows are thoroughly decorated by professionals. Full of alluring ideas that tax the mind where wallets won’t permit, it’s hard to swallow at times. Comparing prices, we shop online, frustrated, then wait in lines. Is it really worth it? Paying for overnight delivery, we have ran out of time….
Though our hearts are consumed with love, we are obsessed with not wanting to forget a single person. So, checking our list, we seem to lose sight of what this holiday represents. It’s sad that the birth of Jesus may be categorized as a pagan (non-Christian) taboo holiday. We come together bearing gifts to commemorate what Christ stands for on the 25th day of December, even though there is no specific date given in the Bible for his birth. But there was a time when celebrating Jesus’ birthday was taboo. For hundreds of years, He went unnoticed and today I sit and wonder, is Christmas really blasphemous? Is decorating your church really sacrilegious?
In regards to paganism, Christmas isn’t religious. It is their belief that Jesus had never existed as a man, only as a sort of spiritual entity. (And by the way it was thought to celebrate any birthday was paganism as well. Let that soak in while you wrap yourself around the holiday season.)
Giving credit in the 1600s, Rome was the birthplace of Christmas as we know it; so, it’s a fairly new celebration! Stephen Nissenbaum, author of the Pulitzer Prize finalist for “The Battle for Christmas” (Vintage, 1997) stated, “If you want to show that Jesus was a real human being just like every other human being, not just somebody who appeared like a hologram, then what better way to think of him being born in a normal, humble human way than to celebrate his birth?”
Protestants (the Puritans) hated this holiday and actually banned it in 1644. They believed it was an insult to God to honor a day associated with ancient paganism. Christmas trees and decorations were considered to be unholy rituals, and they also banned traditional Christmas foods such as mince meat pies and pudding. Puritan laws required that stores and businesses remained open all day on Christmas. The ban on the holiday was ultimately lifted in 1660, when Charles II took over the throne.
Churches may worship differently but they still hang wreathes on their doors and maybe mistletoe in the hallways. Due to a lack of timekeeping in biblical times, Christmas became a commemoration of the birth of Jesus. This is what Christians celebrate today. To call Christmas blasphemous or churches sacrilegious? Are you kidding?
Starting out on the virgin snow, the foliage dons a winter coat and a pristine aroma filters in the pains. Alone in my thinking, I give God the glory and celebrate a commemorative birth. It should be celebrated every day and not just in December!
I thank God for all of my friends and followers – each and every one of you. My heart is a Christmas card spreading good cheer! May your Yule tidings comfort you in the oncoming year. Feeling so blessed, God rest ye all this time of year. Merry Christmas!!!
Countdown to Christmas! The Evergreen Fir and the Biblical Significance of Christmas Decorations –
This Christmas, let us be reminded of the fact God has provided us with the original tree of life through our Lord Jesus Christ. With God’s tree comes the imperishable, eternal, and unbelievable gifts of God’s grace. It symbolizes the love, hope and eternal life in Christ.
The evergreen fir became the initial Christmas tree of Christianity by Saint Boniface in 722. He was the first person responsible when he left England to convert the Germans to Christianity. A story states that he is said to have come across a group of pagans about to sacrifice a young boy while worshipping an oak tree. In anger, and to stop the sacrifice, St. Boniface is said to have cut down the oak tree and, to his amazement, a young fir tree sprang up from the roots of the oak tree. He took this as a sign of the Christian faith and his followers decorated the tree with candles so that St. Boniface could preach to the pagans at night.
In the 16th century, Martin Luther brought a tree indoor and decorated it with candles and apples in honor of Christ’s birth. There is a story told that prior to Christmas, he walked through a forest and witnessed the stars shining through the tree branches. It was so beautiful, that he went home and told his children that it reminded him of Jesus, who left the stars of heaven to come to earth at Christmas.
Christmas trees were originally topped with a figure of the Baby Jesus but later changed to angels because they told the shepherds about Jesus.
Whatever legend you wish to pass on, remember that Christmas is the time to celebrate the birth of Jesus! Have a blessed Christmas and let’s continue to remember what this holiday is really about…..
Tinsel: Legend says a poor family wished to decorate their Christmas tree in honor of Jesus, but had nothing to do so. During the night, a spider spun webs across the tree, and the Christ Child turned those threads into silver, to honor the family’s faith.
Bells: Represents joy of Christmas Day. In Christianity the ringing of a bell is a sacred announcement to the presence of Christ at mass.
Candy canes: Shaped like a shepherd’s crook, it symbolizes that Christ is the Good Shepherd; invented by Father Keller using the Keller Machine that automated the process of shaping them.
Poinsettia flowers: Through their shape, reminds all of the Star of Bethlehem; some cultures consider it a symbol of purity.
Wreaths: Just as a wreath is a never-ending circle, so too is the eternal love of the Lord.
Mistletoe: It is neither shrub, nor tree and it grows suspended in the air – a powerful symbol of freedom. It’s considered a sacred plant of peace and a symbol of fertility.
Holly: A symbol of the crown of thorns worn by Jesus on the cross. The berries portray the blood he shed for all our sins.
Christmas colors of red and green: The color red symbolizes the blood shed by Jesus Christ during his crucifixion; the color green symbolizes the eternal life of Christ.
….and Biblical Facts About Snow. Countdown to Christmas Blogs Sliding Along….
It’s Christmas eve and the homes in our neighborhood are all decorated with lots of creative ideas. In the cold and dreary dark, almost on cue, a flurry falls. So together, standing with our arms around each other, a light on ready for bed, you and I watch as it begins to snow. Excited it’s our first snow, you look up at me, smile and say, “Let’s go for a walk”. Racing to get layered up, I helped you with your new suede boots with furry collars and little gold bells attached to the outside. With two pair of leggings and three different tops, I think it’s safe to say you’ll probably stay warm.
So I wrapped a scarf around my neck, stuck a knit-y on my head, grabbed my black goose down and headed out. Do you know how hard it is to hold someone’s hand with mittens on? Scuffing the snow as we walked through the neighborhood, I see we are not alone; we have company as others thought the same as us. It’s amazing how much better the decorations look covered in white. I love this time of year! We must have walked a mile, I guess, both our noses were blood red, frozen, as the snow was accumulating on our clothing.
I looked at my watch, it’s 12:03. MERRY CHRISTMAS, my love! What a wonderland worth falling in love in for in this season. Frozen to the bone, we rush inside, strip in the foyer and ran to shower in an attempt to thaw. The tree is loaded with, “I love you” gifts under it. I smell the effervescence of freshly cut pine. It’s as though we had just cut the forest.
A good night’s sleep, listening for Santa, we rose the next morning to a glimmering sunrise. It’s as though the Lord had sprinkled star dust all over the snow sometime in the middle night. With carols filling the airwaves in the living room, and the sound of shovels scraping the walks in the background, it is Christmas morning – a time to rejoice! “Wow honey,” I see you moved the angel from the top of tree. “No”, I said , “I thought you did. Well then please tell me how it got on the mantle…..??” It’s the magic of Christmas!
The word “snow” (Hebrew sheleg, Greek chion) appears 23 times in the Bible.
“Driving snow” is an analogy for God’s judgment found in Ecclesiasticus 43:13:
By his commandment he maketh the snow to fall apace, and sends swiftly the lightnings of his judgment
In the bible, snow generates fruitfulness, wherever it falls. As noted in Isaiah 55:10:
“The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry.”
Snow was used in the bible as an analogy of purity and cleanness. Each time we see snow, we should be ever mindful to strive to live clean, pure and holy lives, just the same way that Christ was pure and sinless. Psalms 51:7:
“Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow”
The whiteness of leprosy is compared to snow in Exodus 4:6.
Then the Lord said, “Put your hand inside your cloak.” So Moses put his hand into his cloak, and when he took it out, the skin was leprous[a]—it had become as white as snow.
Snow is used to describe the color of Christ’s hair in Revelation 1:14:
“The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire.”
In biblical times, snow that fell from the higher elevations, was stored deep in the mountains to be used in the summer months to cool off a drink. Proverbs 25:13:
“Like a snow-cooled drink at harvest time is a trustworthy messenger to the one who sends him; he refreshes the spirit of his master.”
Countdown to Christmas Continues….. Jingling All The Way!
“One-Horse Open-Sleigh”, later known as Jingle Bells, was written by Massachusetts resident, James Pierpont in 1850. As this story tells, Pierpont wrote it in Simpson’s Tavern, a boarding house with the only piano in town. An unproven detail is that he wrote his popular winter song for his father’s Sunday School class for Thanksgiving. It was so popular that it was sung again at Christmas time. One of Pierpont’s friends called the song, “a merry little jingle.”
Among the earliest recorded versions of the song were on music boxes but it didn’t become popular until the phonograph record era. Among all the recordings, it was Bing Crosby with The Andrews Sisters who made the song the most popular. Their 1943 recording is the one most often heard today during the Christmas season in the United States.
Pierpont’s inspiration for this song was the annual one-horse open-sleigh races on Salem and Pleasant Streets between Medford Square and Malden Square. What were these races? In the 19th century, harness racing was extremely popular in towns. Straight, snow packed roads made for excellent racing lanes, and men would hitch their best horses for the races. Local newspapers from the 1800s and early 1900s included the latest sleigh racing reports, winner’s names and the breeding of the best horses. For many, sleigh racing was a cold-weather pastime, much like sledding and skiing. Large bells were attached to the horse’s necks to help avoid collisions at intersections (thus the inspiration for the title, Jingle Bells).
The sleigh described in “Jingle Bells” is known as a “cutter”—a two-person vehicle designed for a single horse in harness. A horse that could trot like the bobtailed mare referenced in the song could cover a mile in two minutes and 40 seconds. Fast one! It was not unusual for the tails of these horses to be bobbed to avoid entanglement in the tack.
As for sleigh racing, it dwindled in popularity each year after the introduction of the automobile.
Horses are certainly one of the most fascinating creatures that God created! In the Bible, they were used as sources of transportation, symbols of army strength, royal gifts, pagan worship and symbols of wealth, character, and prophesies. To ride a horse in biblical times, usually implied war, which is why men usually rode donkeys, mules, camels and ox-driven carts. They were rarely used for agricultural purposes.
The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord.
On a day-to-day basis, horses were imported and exported so chariot cities were built to stable them. Archaeologists have uncovered the ancient city of Megiddo, which was one of King Solomon’s chariot cities. Massive stone hitching posts still may be observed at the location.
1 Kings 10: 28-29
“Solomon’s horses were brought out of Egypt, and the king’s merchants received them in droves, each at a price. A chariot could be brought out of Egypt for 600 shekels of silver, and a horse for 150. And so to all the kings of the Hittites and of Syria they were exported by the king’s merchants.”
1 Kings 4:26
“Solomon also had 40,000 stalls for his chariots and 12,000 horsemen”.
But for all the notoriety that horses are famous for, God wants us to understand this about horses. He created them for their strength and power but not as a replacement for His power in your life. Just as horses tend to be stubborn and independent, so the Lord encourages you to lean on Him at all times, for His guidance. It can symbolize destruction or victory to you in His holy name!
A Loving Christmas Dedication….
It was 1980….. my whole family was around to celebrate the holiday. I’ll never forget Dad in his baggy corduroys, and mom in her Christmas plaid kilt. Home from college, my brother, Chip was out, somewhere, with friends. My dear Gram’s, in the way, was always trying to help. Archaic, you just had to love her! Born in 1901, I bet she had some stories to tell in her day. Dad, God rest his soul…. I’ll never forget the way he sharpened his carving knife. I watched intently year after year. Mom always stood by, in case he needed help holding the bird. My older brother, Jean, would arrive whenever he got there – with a packed truck of the traditional gifts of the season.
A picture frozen in time! It was to be Mom’s last Christmas. She was loaded with cancer and no one knew it. God, though, gave me the fortitude to capture her legacy in an everlasting Kodak moment (shown above). So I took it, not knowing if life would ever be the same again. It was February when we received the horribly, sad news. Mom started smoking at sixteen. Without a prayer of concern, her life was over at the early age of fifty-eight. She died in September. Soberly, during these holidays, I return to tears of yesteryears. The grave, love I had for her…. I was hell to raise! A determined, dyslexic little boy that needed more of Mom than my brothers could ever comprehend.
Watching the sun peak through the pain, I must give thanks to her. She did the best she could, I know. While flying at 30,000 feet in an airplane, sometime in the mid-seventies, I read about a couple of scientists in England that made a breakthrough on children with my disability. Poor Mom! God rest her soul for putting up with me! She probably still lies in a turmoil of frustration, after trying to raise me an “urchin”. Who knows?? I could have been ADHD, too.
I assure you though, if you think Mom had it rough, she never saw my life behind the curtain I was living. The “silent voice” (A Silent Voice), I came to comprehend. It was, what it was! There’s no changing that nightmare!
Today, during this holiday season, I reminisce. I give her a lot of credit for what she knew not. Born breach and blue, there was little she could do. But today, I thank God for my Mom, “Bless you Mom”! I wish you were here to share in the greatness of what your determined, dyslexic son has turned into. I guess, maybe, through God’s awesomeness, she knows, somehow, that my gift from God was because of her! She certainly died trying…..
Never miss a Christmas story and song! Read them all here….
#1: Birth Of The Christmas Greeting Card
#2: A Rivalry of Christmas Harmony
#3: The Shy, Red Nose
#4: Paying Homage At Christmas
#5: One-Horse Open-Sleigh
#6: The First Snow