- Holidays and Celebrations
Making Christmas More Meaningful
What is your Christmas Traditions?
Each Christmas Season, I'm reminded of two Old Testament stories about Ancient Israel. The first, from the book of Numbers, tells of the rebellious Israelites whom Moses saved from Egyptian bondage. At this point in their journey, "the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died" (21: 6). They pled with Moses, to ask the Lord to help them. The Lord commanded Moses to make a brazen serpent, and set it upon a pole. The Israelites who were bitten, were instructed to look upon the brazen serpent would be saved. Those who would not look, would perished (21: 9). The significance of this story, is hidden in the symbolism. The brazen and they would be saved from death.
The second story, is a continuation of the first, though generations later. As Israel established their promised land in Canaan, they kept the brazen serpent to remind them to look to Christ and remind them of God's mercy. But over the years, that symbol changed. The Israelites named the image Nehushtan, and began to burn incense to it. It became a graven image they worshiped, rather than a tool to teach about their coming Savior. Ultimately, king Hezekiah, one of the few righteous kings of Israel "broke to pieces the brasen serpent that Moses had made..." (2 King 18: 4).
What do these stories have to do with Christmas? Like the Brazen serpent of Moses, Christmas was established to remind people of the fulfilled promise of God by sending Christ to redeem mankind. Those who look to Christ will be saved, as promised anciently. But, over time, parts of our accumulating traditions associated with Christmas have weakened its intended effects. Though I believe Christ is still "remembered" during the season, it is possible that many give a mere glance or passing thought to the true meaning of Christmas. With so much holiday flare, do we really make room for Christ? Perhaps like the old inn keeper, we kindly find a place for Him; but is it enough? We would do good to avoid filling our holidays with an overwhelming number of gifts, parties and stories of Arctic elves, and focus more on giving to the needy, serving our neighbor, and reflecting on the Joy of Christ's life, teachings and sacrifice. If we have little time or patience to do these things, perhaps it is time we should simplify our Christmas traditions. Perhaps, like King Hezekiah, we ought to "remove the high places, and brake the images, and cut down the groves." We must limit those images we sacrifice too much too, or that simply obscure our view of Christ (18: 4)?
The Nativity - A 6 minute presentation of the events surrounding the Birth of Jesus
Make Christmas Last Year Round.
"And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field... And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold i bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord." (Luke 2:8, 10-11).
It has been said, what made Jesus' birth more spectacular than any other birth, was His the life He lifed, and the mission fulfilled. If His life was not to be more than normal, His birth would have been just another birth.
This Christmas, when we sit to read the Christmas story from Luke chapter 2, our reading should not end where Luke 3 begins. Let us continue daily to read the life of Christ. To complete the four gospels, and then continue reading the Holy Bible to learn and reflect the service of his Church and disciples. His words will inspire our minds, and lead our hearts to better teach, lead and serve our fellow men.
Free 30 minute DVD about the Life of Christ
A free 30 minutes video that depicts the last week of Christ's life, with clips of His ministry, is available, by calling the number on the picture.
Wise Men Still Seek Him
Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem... and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshiped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, frankincense, and myrrh (Matthew 2: 1, 9-10).