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Compiled by EDWARD M. DEEMS, A.M., PH.D.

Compiled by EDWARD M. DEEMS, A.M., PH.D.


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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Jul 20, 2014
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved


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CHRISTMAS Compiled by EDWARD M. DEEMS, A.M., PH.D. SUGGESTIVE THOUGHTS AD ILLUSTRATIOS (December) CHRISTMAS is a Christian festival celebrated in memory of the birth of Jesus Christ. Originally we find the feast was celebrated by the Eastern Church as Epiphania, January 6, and by the Western Church as atalis, December 25. While December 25 was in all probability not the actual date of Christ s birth, its selection by the Western Church was by no means arbitrary. Precisely at this season of the year occurred a series of Pagan festivals, closely connected with the civil and social life of the Romans,, and from the nature of their observance, easily capable of being spiritualized and made symbolic. This series culminated in the festival of the winter solstice, the birthday of the new sun about to return once more toward the earth. In this feast the transition to the Christian point of view easily presented itself, and hence it came about that in the Christian cycle of holidays December 25 was set to celebrate the birthday of Jesus, the Sun of the spiritual world for the purpose of drawing away Christian people from heathen festivities, and of purifying eventually these heathen customs and ideas.
In the fourth century, through the influence of Chrysostom, it is believed, the Eastern Church transferred its celebration to the same date, and the day being thus uniformly accepted, Christmas became one of the three great annual festivals of the Church. CHRISTMAS, HISTORIC AD LEGEDARY curved ranks of white-clad warriors, women and children facing the altar, the hoary High Priest and kneeling child the victim doomed to die by the blow of the hammer, a sacrifice to Thor, the Hammerer. Then the coming of Boniface, the blow from the Hammer turned aside by the Cross, the rescue of the boy, the fall of the oak be fore the mighty blows of the apostle, the story of Jesus simply told and how sin, not human life, is the sacrifice He asks. " And here, said the apostle, as his eyes fell on a young fir tree, standing straight and green with its top pointing toward the stars, amid the divided ruins of the fallen oak, here is the living tree, with no stain of blood upon -it, that shall be the sign of your new worship. See how it points to the sky. Let us call it the tree of the Christ-child. Take it up and carry it to the Chieftain s hall, for this is the birth-night of the White Christ. You shall go no more into the shadows of the forest to keep your feasts with secret rites of shame. You shall keep them at home with laughter and song and rites of love. " Thus did " the hour of darkness, the power
of winter, of sacrifice, and mighty fear " vanish before the glad radiance of redeem ing love, and the Pagan oak, whose roots were fed with blood, fall before the fir tree which " points to the stars." P. Tid. For several centuries after the birth of Jesus Christ, Christmas : our happiest season, was to His followers one of heroic ordeal. His birthday was first celebrated in the second century, it i? said, by order of Teles- phorus, seventh Bishop of Rome, who shortly after suffered martyrdom, the observance of the anniversary of Christ s nativity being one of his offenses. But tho the initiator of the observance died, the observance lived lived through flame and sword. After two hun dred years, in the reign of Diocletian we read of a vast multitude of Christians as sembled, of windows and doors barred by the Pagan emperor s order of torches ap plied to the crowded building, and the burn ing alive of hundreds of worshipers as sembled to celebrate the birthday of Christ. Six hundred years after the martyrdom of the man who is reported to have instituted the Christmas observance, the man to whom tradition assigns the ideas of the Christmas tree suffered a like fate at the hands of the Pagan tribes of Germany. The legend of St. Boniface and the first Christmas tree has been beautifully told. The scene lives before us : the wintry night, the swelling hillock crowned with the great oak tree the " Thunder Oak," sacred to the Pa gan god, Thor, the tongues of ruddy flame,

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