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There is a reason why a specific day was not mentioned in the Bible for the most important birth. December 25th was chosen by a Roman Catholic Pope. And the addition of Santa Claus influencing parents to lie to their children about someone who is supposed to have God-like attributes (remember the famous song about him). And the current President changed the White House Christmas Tree to the Holiday Tree so that non-Christians would not be offended anymore and he believes that God the Father and Allah are the same. The possible next President probably agrees. Most of the gift giving done is with hopes of receiving even better gifts. But I still do a lot of intercessory praying during December because it is the best time for Christians and churches to evangelize. Also during this month there are more news stories of compassionate actions done for others and so I pray each time I see such that others might be encouraged to do similar. More about Christmas and other USA holidays can be found at http://www.box.net/shared/8vikemd3eb . When I was in my first Christian school teaching ministry, two parents got angry that I wanted to have a birthday celebration instead of Santa Claus and gift exchange. Most of us have celebrated December 24th and 25th with the wrong attitude and purpose during our childhoods and after. But we also have celebrated our own physical birthdays wrongly. The main emphasis should be thanking God for another year of life. Where in the Bible does it say that we should get congratulations and presents? But the most important facts are: What a sacrifice Jesus Christ made for us. He gave up wonderful Heaven and His power to come to Earth and begin as a baby in a poor situation. And later He had to resist temptations, suffer ridicule and a horrible physical beating, and die for us. He fulfilled the death penalty requirement of all who break God's Law and conquered physical death, so that all who believe in Him and the full Gospel can have eternal life with Him in Heaven and on the New Earth where there will be no sin and sicknesses.
Did Dickens Really Rescue Christmas? (by Paul Edwards) December 18, 2008 Les Standiford is the director of the Creative Writing program at Florida International University. He has written an intriguing back story to Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol in his book "The Man
Who Invented Christmas: How Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol Rescued His Career and Revived Our Holiday Spirits." If the title makes you question the attribution of inventor of Christmas to Dickens (given that the holiday was certainly celebrated pre-19th Century) Professor Standiford clarifies things for us a bit when he says, "Dickens did not single handedly dream up the concept of a yuletide season with its various accoutrements." Standiford asserts rather that Dickens "came to the rescue of a downtrodden holiday that a repressed Western world was fairly bursting to revive." The result, as Standiford readily admits, was that Dickens "gave his contemporaries … a secular counterpart to the story of the Nativity…" Standiford traces briefly the biographical history of Charles Dickens, whose life came to a critical turning point in October of 1843, leading ultimately to the writing of "A Christmas Carol" that same December when he was just 31 years old. In addition to his helpful biographical background on Dickens, Professor Standiford recounts how the birth of Christ came to be celebrated on December 25 via the edict of a fourth century Pope (Julius I), effectively merging the pagan orgies of the Roman Saturnalia with the Church's celebration of the birth of Christ: The decision to create Christmas … officially celebrating the birth of Jesus for the first time, brought mixed blessings to the Church. Indeed, many pagans found the new religion that embraced their old customs inviting, and the membership rolls grew. For the next 1200 years this merging of paganism with Christianity became the quasi-standard for true and "proper" celebrations of Christmas. But, in Standiford's recounting and much to his dismay, along came Oliver Cromwell and the Puritans in the 18th Century whose "views of the practice of Christianity" led them to conclude that such celebrations of Christmas "had simply gotten out of hand." One gets the impression that the professor views the efforts of godly Puritans to maintain the sanctity of celebration around the birth of Christ as the embodiment of Dickens's Scrooge. In fact, the professor holds the Puritans and other conservative Anglicans responsible for the "downtrodden" nature of the holiday. The
Puritans had made things bad for Christmas, both in England and the United States, writes Standiford. Thanks to the preaching of the Puritans and the legislative efforts of Oliver Cromwell and other Puritans in Parliament, "by the late 1700s the holiday had become a pale shadow of its former self, cloaked in piousness." Standiford seems to lament that the merry-making and the orgies had all but stopped, replaced by solemn and sanctified celebrations. Enter Charles Dickens and his "little Carol" to rescue Christmas from its "religiosity" and return it to its pre-Puritan status of revelry and merriment. Thanks to the influence of "A Christmas Carol", many of "the decorative elements and amusements" of the holiday were "given a fresh gloss", making their return to Christmas celebrations: [B]lazing fireplaces, mince pies and wassail bowls, carol-singing, plum puddings, holly sprigs, mistletoe, fiddling and dancing, blindman bluffings, and the parlor game of forfeits had been seen in holiday festivities previously, but the effect of Dickens's tale was to make the incorporation of such elements seem obligatory for anyone's proper Christmas. "Charles Dickens", writes Professor Standiford, "played a major role in transforming a celebration dating back to pre-Christian times, revitalizing forgotten customs and introducing new ones that now define the holiday", and thus "singlehandedly created the modern idea of Christmas." In reading Standiford's history of "A Christmas Carol", if not Dickens's book itself, one sees more clearly the humanistic understanding of salvation that is presented there. "A Christmas Carol" succeeds as a pagan alternative to the Nativity, and as such presents an alternative to the gospel itself: the story of Jesus Christ, his birth, sinless life, atoning death and bodily resurrection. Standiford aptly summarizes Dickens's gospel: [He] complemented the glorification of the nativity of Christ with a specific set of practices derived from Christ's example: charity and compassion in the form of educational opportunity, humane working conditions, and a decent life for all. Just as vital as the celebration of the birth of a holy savior into a human family was the glorification and defense of the family unit itself.
In fact, Standiford notes that, "Scrooge's only hope of salvation is to learn the concept of charity." This alternative gospel is one enamored with Christ's example, but not enamored with Christ himself. It is a gospel that declares (falsely) that man has the capacity to change himself through education, government assistance, the redistribution of wealth and acts of benevolence. At its root "A Christmas Carol" is fundamentally about spiritual rebirth. The means Dickens presents for that spiritual re-birth, however, could not be more at odds with God's plan for man's salvation. The story of Christ's birth needs no complement, and nothing is more vital to the spiritual change in our natures than a celebration of our Holy Savior's birth for its own sake. Saint Paul warned us of being deceived by these alternative gospels when he wrote in Colossians 2:8: "See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. Interesting, isn't it, that the hearts of the non- or nominally religious are warmed by the genuinely fanciful and unbelievable story of a miserly old man having his heart fundamentally changed by the appearance of three apparitions one Christmas Eve, yet these same hearts assign to the category of myth the assertion of the Christian Gospel that God himself has visited us in the person of His only Son. What irony! Enlightened minds believing in the power of ghosts to fundamentally alter a man's nature, but refusing to believe the story of an invisible God who condescended to us to take our sinful nature on himself, not to reform our natures but to replace them with his own new nature. The nativity of Jesus Christ is the ghostly visitation that holds the power to fundamentally change your nature-- not just for the Christmas Season-- but for eternity: "But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, 'Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost'" (Matthew 1:20).
As compelling as "A Christmas Carol" has become, it just doesn't trump the original. Why settle for a cheap knock-off version of the gospel when you can believe the real thing? Paul Edwards is a regular columnist and the host of "The Paul Edwards Program" heard daily on WLQV in Detroit. Contact Paul at email@example.com. ************************************************************ No, Christ isn't allowed in Christmas 6th-grader's teacher says Jesus can't be mentioned in holiday poem Posted: December 20, 2008 © 2008 WorldNetDaily A public school teacher in Mississippi marked down an elevenyear-old's Christmas poem assignment and told the boy to rewrite it because he used the word "Jesus", which, the instructor explained, is a name not allowed in school. Liberty Counsel, a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, reports that sixth-grader Andrew White of Hattiesburg, Miss., chose to write the poem on the assignment "What Christmas means to me." After White turned in his rough draft, however, his teacher circled the word "Jesus" and deducted a point from his grade. The teacher then explained that he needed to rewrite the poem without the offending word. When White's parents questioned the teacher, Liberty Counsel reports, they received a response email explaining, "[Andrew] and another child did a poem about Christ. I know we can't discuss these type [sic] of things in school so I asked the two of them to do another poem of their choice." Mathew D. Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel and dean of Liberty University School of Law, expressed dismay that despite many legal clarifications on the issue, there are still educationl officials
that mistakenly believe students can't speak of their faith at school. "Some educators need education that the story of Christmas is not banned from public schools", Staver said in a statement. Staver says he was "horrified that a sixth-grader was told by his teacher, 'we can't discuss these types of things in school.' I don't understand why some people don't get it. Christmas is a state and federal holiday. Schools are closed to celebrate this holiday. Obviously, Christmas is constitutional." The principal at White's Thames Elementary School agreed with Staver. After White's parents encouraged Andrew to turn in his first, unedited poem, Principal Carrie Hornsby changed the boy's grade to a 100 and conceded that there was nothing improper in using Jesus' name. Hornsby also coordinated a mailing to all the school's parents, explaining that students' religious expression is permitted under federal guidelines. White's parents, however, told OneNewsNow that the situation has caused them to consider homeschooling their son, concerned about other challenges to the faith Andrew may be experiencing apart from their knowledge. Andrew's original poem, "A Great Christmas", reads: "The best Christmas ever is when everyone is there. It is when everyone is laughing here and there. That is the Christmas I want to share. Christmas is about Jesus' birth. About peace on Earth. This is what Christmas is about. It is when He lay in a manger. And the three wise men come to see. That's what it means to me." ************************************************************ A Conversation Between Two Angels... http://blog.360.yahoo.com/blogdgRlzbsibrVUlA9EDkVfJLqzZeJBD5skH6s-?cq=1
A hush fell over heaven. Angels stopped in open-mouthed wonder to catch the strains of a rumor..."What? Our King is...going where?" "I told you...He's going to Earth!" "How can this be? It's impossible...unthinkable..." Hoping it wasn't true, they continued their work and praise, and things were busier than ever. Those humans were such trouble. Forever getting into chaotic situations ~ forgetting their words, their vows, their promises. Laying down what they had focused on the day before in the rush of something new, something attractive ~ their illnesses, their habits, their brokenness. Two angels were hovered near each other, talking as they worked... "No, really ~ it's true. He's going to Earth as the son of a virgin." "Oh, well, that's a great idea, isn't it? Those on earth won't understand that at all..." "At least He'll certainly have a palace, smaller in scale, of course, but a palace nonetheless." "No, I don't think so. It looks as if He's going to born in a stable." "NO! Unthinkable! With the pigs and cows?" "I know. Amazing, isn't it?" "But WHY? There can be no reason for this ludicrous event. The humans may not recognize Him. They will...well, you have seen them and what they do...they will ignore Him. And that cannot be." "Yes, you are right. They are so clueless sometimes, aren't they? But you know there must be a reason for this." "Yes, I suppose so. Perhaps He is going to teach them, train them? Revolutionize them? Take them by force?"
"Ah, but His love is the gentlest. You know that. No, I think there is a much larger purpose. I have heard He is intending to give up Himself for them." "The King? Giving up Himself for those dirty humans who shun Him? Who kill each other? Who murder? That cannot be." "As strange as it is, I have heard He is going to be one of them. To walk the earth as if He is fully human...to live amongst them. And then ~ " "And then?" "To actually sacrifice His life for their sake. And to allow them the freedom to believe or not believe." "How can this happen?" "Because of love. The King's love. You know that." "Yes, I suppose so. But...what if...as impossible as it seems, the humans don't realize the sacrifice that was made?" All was still for a moment in the echo of a perfect place. "Surely that won't happen. They will know at some point. And if they don't believe...then, well ~ you know what will happen to them." "Why doesn't He simplify everything and just require every knee to bow? To not allow one to be lost in unbelief?" "Because of His love for their freedom of choice. This is hard for us to comprehend. Alas, we are only angels. They are His children. Above us. Made in the image of the King. And He adores them. He's crazy about them to the point where He would sacrifice His son." "Such a love I cannot begin to comprehend. And they don't deserve it ~ you know they don't." "Yes, they are rebellious and self-serving for the most part. And, yes, love like this is truly unimaginable. Unmerited. A gift."
"What will this belief cost them? Surely the King will require something in return?" "It will cost them nothing and yet, at the same time ~ it will demand everything of them, but only on a temporary basis. The tricky part for them will be to simply accept it, to take what they don't deserve, to receive that which they can't understand." "The ultimate gift. The King surely loves them." Merry, Merry Christmas, my friends...
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