Putting the Heart Back In the Holiday
The Christmas Tree
It is a widely held belief that Martin Luther, the 16th-century Protestant reformer, first added lighted candles to a tree. Walking toward his home one winter evening, composing a sermon, he was awed by the brilliance of stars twinkling amidst evergreens. To recapture the scene for his family, he erected a tree in the main room and wired its branches with lighted candles.
Dec 25 Christ Mass
The Winter Solstice is the day where there is the shortest time between the sun rising and the sun setting. It happens on December 21st or 22nd. To pagans this meant that the winter was over and spring was coming and they had a festival to celebrate the sun for winning over the darkness of winter.
Jesus is the light of the world, so the early Christians may have thought this was the right time to celebrate the birth of Jesus. They also took over some of the customs from the Winter Solstice and gave them Christian meanings.
Bishop of Myra, A generous man, ardent lover of Jesus
In AD 325 Emperor Constantine convened the Council of Nicaea, the very first ecumenical council. More than 300 bishops came from all over the Christian world to debate the nature of the Holy Trinity and the divinity of Christ. It was one of the early church’s most intense theological questions. Arius, from Egypt, was teaching that Jesus the Son was a created being, not equal to God the Father. Arius forcefully argued his position at length. The bishops listened respectfully.
As Arius vigorously continued, Nicholas became more and more agitated. Finally, he could no longer bear what he believed was essential being attacked. The outraged Nicholas got up, crossed the room, and slapped Arius across the face!
In terms of addressing culture, transitions and customs, we have three options.
Reject - dismiss as being inappropriate
Receive - accept as being beneficial
Redeem - find the good and redirect towards Christ
8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. - (Php 4:8–9)
The 3 Wise Men
(x) Were not part of the Nativity
(x) We know there was more than one, but not if there was three
Are a remarkable part of the Christmas Story, one that should inspire wonder and awe!
The Magi are proof...
1) Something remarkable had taken place
2) God has a plan
3) That those who seek, find
4) Not everyone welcomes a new King
5) We must not come before the King empty handed
- Gold, a gift fit for a king
- Frankincense, a fragrant incense, used by the Priest
- Myrrh, a perfume, medicine and incense. Used for embalming.
This is the mystery. Did these wise men from afar understand that this child was born to a King, a Priest and a Sacrifice?