Don’t get excited about the title. I just used it to stay contemporary. However, I do want to make some reflections.
I grew up in a church atmosphere of a war on Christmas. My family didn’t buy into it, but the preachers convinced a good number of folks that it was wrong. I’m glad my mother, who was pretty much the guide for our theology, didn’t take those preachers all that seriously.
The theological reason to be against Christmas was that it was not “authorized”. In other words the Bible didn’t say to observe the birth of Jesus, and we didn’t do anything which didn’t have chapter and verse. Or so we said.
Among the other reasons was that December 25 was linked to a pagan holiday. The Christmas tree was also a pagan symbol. So if you want to be swallowed up in anti-Christmas stuff, go on the internet. One site, the Hope of Israel Ministries was delightful. It said by rearranging the letters in Santa Claus, you can get “Satan’s Claws.” Go figure.
Now, when it came to scripture, they were loaded. The one they used which I also remembered, was Jeremiah 10:3,4, which, just for fun, I’m quoting from the Contemporary English Version. “Their religion is worthless! They chop down a tree, carve the wood into an idol, cover it with silver and gold and nail it down so it won’t fall over.” That, by the way is a very good translation of what was going on in the historical and Biblical context. Now, listen to how the HIM folks translated it. “For the CUSTOMS of the people are VAIN: for one CUTTETH A TREE out of the FOREST, the work of the hands of the workman, with an ax. They DECK IT WITH SILVER AND GOLD; they fasten it with nails and hammers, that it move not.” Coincidence? I think not!
I grew up in a city that was all white, except for “our Negroes”, two or three families near the Cincinnati boarder. Christmas scenes were all over, as well as on government property. That’s the way it was, and I liked it, especially the holiday from school and the presents under the (pagan) tree. I was actually pretty good at keeping Christ out of Christmas. Not because of any real theology, but because the religious stuff got in the way of the rest of it. Since I was part of the only true church, those (boring) local preachers who came to the school to read and tell us about Christmas, were false teachers, even if I didn’t have anything against them personally, except they were slowing me from starting my two week escape from school. I didn’t realize that the John Birch Society, in 1959, would say I was part of a communist plot. The JBS had been influenced by Henry Ford’s “The International Jew” in which he stated the Jews where plotting to take over the world and “launch a war on Christianity.” Taking Christ out of Christmas was part of the Jewish/Communist plot.
Was Christmas celebration a right, established by the founders(?) of the country? No. In fact, the Europeans who settled here were anti Christmas because of both its Catholic and pagan background. Christmas was banned in Boston from 1659-1681. Anyone exhibiting the Christmas spirit was fined five shillings. However, in Jamestown, Captain John Smith said it was celebrated without incident.
After the American Revolution, anything English was bad, including Christmas. In fact, Congress was in session on December 25, 1779. The day wasn’t declared a federal holiday until June 26, 1870.
So what about Christmas, with all its pagan and unauthorized trappings? Which prompts the question: Does the original meaning of something always define its use? The snake in the Garden of Eden was a bad symbol. When the snakes bit the children of Israel, Moses had a bronze snake (a graven image) made to heal them as they looked at it. Later it became an idol of sorts and had to be destroyed. Today, the snake(s) on a pole is the sign of the medical profession, but it is a pagan (Greek) symbol. Which symbol is the right one? The one at the moment, just like three( magi)wise men at manger scenes. So take the best of the Christmas season and be merry. After all, a thing is only as good as the way it is used.
CONCERNS: Gary Overstreet has had to stay in the hospital (RMH) while the fluid is drained as an aftermath of his heart surgery. Continue to remember Garrett Lee Williams friend, Hannah. Joni Beach ask’s prayers for her mother and father, as well as her niece, Jody Cole. Remember also Jim Hunter, Wayne and Susan Phlegar, David Albert, Leena Bolin’s aunt, Lee Nicklas, Sandy Blanchard, who has cancer and blindness. Sandra Anderson, Gil Richardson, Deana McRoy, Stephanie Rigney, Jenni Cullum and her friend, Sean, Jim and Mary Smith and Tim Elder.
OUR DAILY BREAD: DEC. 7-12
Monday: Matthew 6:1-18
Tuesday: Psalm 96:1-13
Wednesday: Matthew 6:19-34
Thursday: Luke 23:26-43
Friday: James 1:5-18
Saturday: Romans 8:26-39
OUR DAILY BREAD: DEC. 14-19
Monday: John 1:5-18
Tuesday Luke 22:14-30
Wednesday: Luke 12:13-34
Thursday: Psalm 51:1-19
Friday: Acts 4:32-5:11
Saturday: Psalm 99:1-9
THE CHRISTMAS PARTY
This year’s Christmas Party is on Saturday evening. There is still time to sign up. The list is on the foyer table. Remember, if you want to be involved in the fun gift exchange, bring a $5.00 or so gift. In the past we have tried to by local items rather than imported, but anything will do.
This year’s theme is An Elegant Christmas. So if you have some fancy duds, dress up and shine. But the most important thing is to come and enjoy the evening together.
The appetizers will be served about 5:30. The meal will start around 6:00.
Our thanks to Judy McWhorter and her helpers in bringing this event about. Thanks to Holly Wagner for setting up the tree and fluffing the limbs for decorations.
THE NEW ENGLAND VILLAGE
Once again Judy McWhorter as set up in the annex, her mother’s New England Village. Each year she gives a different set up. Stop by and take a look.
Jeff Forsyth will graduate from the Jefferson Collage of Health Sciences with a diploma as a physician’s assistant. He and Kirissa will be relocating to Winston/Salem, North Carolina next year. So we’ll have a little more time with them and be able to express how much their worshiping with us lifted and strengthened us.
By the way, they were able to work out a month to month deal with their landlord, and appreciate how many offers they received for housing until they move.
Due to a computer problem, (freezing) some of you who receive the bulletin locally via the mail, will notice your copy may not arrive before Sunday. As mentioned before, since Roanoke mail is now sent to Greensboro and then back, the local bulletins may not arrive before Sunday regardless. However, there are always copies on the foyer table. The out of town bulletins will be sent
During this holiday season, starting with Thanksgiving, many of us will be traveling. This makes it harder to schedule those who serve the congregation on Sunday. Be ready to fill in and help.