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Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

by Jordan Hathcock

We don’t want the Christian tradition to become an antique shop just preserving old things. We want to build on old things and allow them to be useful in different ages, vocabularies, and cultures. We want our faith to be ever new, so that it can speak to souls alive and in need right now! – Richard Rohr

During the holiday season, we can see the old ways of tradition booming forth within each culture context. In most Western societies, the Christmas tradition rings loudest with its songs, lights, decorations and food. Not to take way the amazing traditions of Hanukkah, Kwanza, Winter Solstice, Yule, etc. What I am doing here is simply pointing out a renewed since of presence within the Christmas tradition. It’s easy to see the beauty within the holiday of Christmas and forget how much it has evolved since it’s beginnings.

In many instances, the Christmas holiday borrows from other ancient traditions to capture the currents cultures needs and desires. For example, the lights on the Christmas tree. Early Christians adopted this custom from early Celtics due to its symbolism of keeping “the evil spirits at bay”. Christians repurposed this custom into a symbol of resurrection to the “tree of paradise”. Both customs bring with it a truth of protection and new beginnings. Thus, the reason early Christians adopted the custom.

Also, even with the issues the Santa Clause brings (consumerism, greed, etc.), he did stem from a real Christian figure in Saint Nicholas as well as the folklore character known as Woden. Both figures brought gifts to the ones in need (which is a great symbol of what God does for her creation). I think the actual historic figure in this (Saint Nicholas) should be the one we tell our kids about. Here is what the real deal good old Saint Nicholas was about:

He used his entire inheritance to help the poor, sick, and children in need. He gave in secret, expecting nothing in return. Nicholas saved young women from slavery, protected sailors, spared innocents from execution, provided grain in a famine, and rescued a kidnaped boy.

All of this really points to numerous amounts of diverse traditions from ancient times that are still bringing about new ways of life in this holiday season. See, when we discover that the old ways were new once in time, we discover that the old ways always can become the new ways if we allow them to be renewed. I think we get to caught up in the tug between old vs. new that it ends up always being this dualistic battle instead of being a beautiful complementation.

We must let go of the idea that we must have this ageism divide between the old and new. To become unified (John 17:23) we will have to be more open to both sides of the old and new paradigm. Of course, when we see a tradition that brings harm to and individual or group, we have to cease the practice of that particular tradition and let it go. This can be hard for both sides. There will always be a time where regardless of how new or old a practice is, death and resurrection is going to be needed for a new type of design.

Jesus brings this same type of idea up when he said: “Every disciple of the kingdom is like a householder who draws out from his storage room, things both old and new”. —Matthew 13:52. It’s when come to the reality of the responsibilities of someone who is for the abundant life of all (not just some who have the same type of beliefs), regardless if it holds to the old or new ways. This is no easy feat. Fear has to die and love has to reign. It’ll be difficult but I believe it’s something that needs to be done if we ever want a world that brings life instead of death…

Oh, my ways are strange ways and new ways and old ways, And deep ways and steep ways and high ways and low, I’m at home and at ease on a track that I know not, And restless and lost on a road that I know.- Henry Lawson

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As the Christmas season progresses I have noticed spending time reflecting on memories of past Christmases. Have any of you done that? Maybe I should say any of you who are say, fifty-five or over.

Sometimes my mind starts to wander off into years past and I see myself with my parents. I can actually see it in my mind like I was there and I can sometimes smell some of the good smells of Christmas cookies baking in the oven.

ChristmasMemories

It actually can get a little depressing when I wander off like that if I concentrate on the past to long. Not because I did not enjoy that period of time, but because it is only a memory. Even while I am lost in thoughts from those years gone by, I am still aware of being in the present time. All those loved ones are now gone and are only memories.

I can also envision years not quite as far back when I was younger and had small children of my own. I can remember that excitement of my kids wanting to get up early and open their presents. Yet even thinking about those times to long gets a little depressing because again, those cute little kids are all grown up and have kids of their own. Again, the thoughts of joy and excitement are just memories.

It is funny how memories can be so uplifting and encouraging and bring so much joy, and at the same time can be a little depressing. So many pleasant memories and happy times of past friends and family being together. Then it all disappears as reality sets in and you know those times are gone.

Of course the good part about all of this are the new memories being made with friends and family of the present time. Memories are great but spending to long in the past is not good when there are so many new memories to be made and enjoyed now.

In Philippians 3:13 it says ‘forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal’. I say live by Hebrews 11:1 … Now faith. We are Now living in the kingdom of God. We Now have the Spirit of God living within us. Enjoy your memories, learn from the past but do not dwell there. Move on and keep looking forward to the goal and live each new day with our Father.

So yes, Christmas time is a time of excitement and happy times. It is also enjoyable to drift back into the past and remember all the good times with friends and family. Yet if you let it, it can be a hard time of year.

Am I saying we should not enjoy past memories? No, not at all. Enjoy the past but do not dwell in the past. The best thing I have found is to enjoy the good times with friends and family in the present. Do not let anything keep you from participating or ruin the time you can spend with them. All to soon they will be but memories, but thank God for the memories.

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I get so tired of reading posts online and following a string of replies that continues to blast the original post.

Do you notice how many times people get offended and feel they need to prove their point. It usually does not go well once that starts. Especially when it comes to spiritual and biblical topics.

We fail to realize that not everyone has the same interpretation as another. We also fail to realize the fact that we cannot prove most of what we believe.

We can fight and argue between Christian and atheist,  one Christian denomination and another, among Jewish, Christian, Islam and a host of other religions, about whether there is there a God or not, is there a hell or not, what this verse means or what that verse means. We get bent out of shape when someone goes against what we believe and do our best to prove our point. We even fight over what Christmas designs are on a cup of coffee these days.

ProveGod

Proving Our Point

Thing is, we cannot prove our point. We cannot prove God exists, we cannot prove there is a heaven or a hell, we cannot prove any other aspect of the spiritual. This life is a life of faith and belief. As Christians, we can have faith that God is there and he loves us. We have faith in his words.

And and the other hand, no one can prove there is not a God, there is not a heaven, or there is not a hell. Yet we will fight and argue until we almost hate each other trying to prove our way of thinking.

I think God can take care of himself. We do not have to fight and argue to defend Him. Rather than making ourselves look like mean, hateful people who have to be right, we should be showing the love of God to everyone. Show his love to those who agree with us and also to those who are a hundred percent sure in their minds that we are wrong.

Love of the Spirit

To be sure, we cannot have this kind of love and acceptance in our own strength. God says we are the temple of the Holy Spirit, and it his love that flows out of us. Through His power, we can love those who live differently, who think differently, we can love our enemies and those who want nothing to do with God.

We can have our own way of thinking, our own beliefs and interpretations, knowing that God created each of us differently. Yet we need to remember we are not totally right on everything, and for sure we are not totally right in someone else’s view. We can all learn something by listening and communicating with others.

We all have a right to believe what and how we want to believe. People can put their faith in God or not. We can have completely different lifestyles. We can have a completely different interpretation on bible verses or we can completely reject the bible and not believe anything about it, and it is OK.

Show the Love of God

We are not called to make people believe like us, or believe in God at all. We are called to go into the world and preach the gospel, the gospel message that God loves and accepts us. Jesus came to restore fellowship between humanity and the Father. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we are to love and accept others just the way they are.

We can have our individual beliefs and interpretations, yet that does not mean we have to agree with everyone. Love and acceptance does not mean agreement. We can love and accept others just because they are loved by God. We were all created in His image. We can have our differences and still accept and care for those God brings into our lives each day.

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