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Xmas or CHRISTmas ?
I used to get annoyed when I saw the word 'Xmas' as an abbreviation for 'Christmas' as it seemed to take something of the wonder out of the story of Jesus coming to our world as a baby in order to become the Saviour of the World. It was all part of the commercialising this wonderful Christian festival by removing the most important character, another step in it’s downgrading, now reduced to calling it 'the winter festival'.
But there's always another point of view which helped to accept the abbreviation, although reluctantly. I read in a parish magazine that the word 'Xmas' is actually a Christian invention! The 'X' is the abbreviation of the name 'Christ' which began with the Greek letter 'Chi' which is written as an 'X'. So what does this tell us?
When you received Christmas or birthday cards from your mum and dad or a family relation or friend, it's quite likely they signed their name and then added an 'X' or perhaps several 'Xs', telling you that the sender loves you very much! So when we see 'Christmas' written as 'Xmas' it can remind us that God loved us so much that He sent Jesus to show us the way back to God.
The letter 'X' is also the symbol of a cross, reminding us that Jesus' love for us took him all the way from the stable to the cross.
There's also another use of the letter 'X'. It's part of the word 'cross-road'. When you get to a cross-road, you have to make a choice as to which of the two roads you should take. 'Xmas' or 'Christmas' gives us an opportunity to make a decision as to how we’re going to follow Jesus. Is it to go the way of selfishness, looking only after your own interests, or to walk the way of Christ and discover Him as our Lord and Saviour? Jesus is a real gentleman. He won't force Himself on us. I do hope you had a very happy 'Xmas' and it will be a wonderful New Year if you trust in Him.
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GOD ONLY KNOWS
William Phelps taught English literature at Yale for forty-one years until his retirement in 1933. One year just before Christmas he was marking an examination paper, Phelps came across the note: "God only knows the answer to this question. Merry Xmas"
Phelps returned the paper with this note: "God gets an A. You get an F. Happy New Year."
WHAT REALLY MATTERS
It was two weeks before Christmas and it began to start. Everyone was scrambling and rushing to get to Wal-Mart. Their credit cards were in the orange and checking account in the red in hopes that their rich uncle would soon be dead.
Old Saint Nick sitting high on a mountain top watching, waiting with a smile because, he knows the sales will bring shivers and grins to the rich folks in just a little while.
Mommies and Daddies go to cocktail parties and Daddy drinks away the pain. While their teenage kids take drugs to do the same.
A homeless man is cold and holding up a sign, "I lost my job would you kindly spare a dime. I've got a wife and little boy who always depended on me but, all seems hopeless so we had to turn to charity."
Our leaders gave our jobs to the foreign lands to make the economy strong so we could still stand but, we depended on God in the past for wrongs and what's right but, now it seems God gets farther from our site.
It seems it's going to take more than just knock some buildings down and take over three thousand lives to turn to a Saviour who can turn our lives and country around.
It was little baby Jesus who was born over two thousand years ago the one wrapped in rags in a stable the free gift of life not with a fancy bow.
It was God in the flesh who grew into a man to die for all who would believe in His plan.
Salvation is paid for by way of the cross by a man name Jesus its God's love for the lost.
So stop and think when in the Christmas rush, what really matters to all of us. It's not Old Saint Nick or the man in the suit of red, its Jesus Christ who was raised from the dead.
We wish each one of you a Christ filled Christmas
Poem was written by Ronnie Miller year 2004 www.themillersbiblestudy.com
Christmas was not celebrated during the 1st 2 centuries after Christ’s life on earth. In AD 245, when a group of scholars attempted to pinpoint the exact date of Christ’s birth, a church council denounced the endeavor, declaring it wrong to celebrate the birthday of Christ "as though he were a King Pharaoh." In spite of official disapproval, various attempts were made to pinpoint the nativity, resulting in a confusion of dates. Among the earliest: January 1st, 6th, March 25th, and May 20th. By the middle of the 4th century, December 25th was associated as the birthday of Christ. Pope Julius formally named December 25th as the day for Christmas in AD 349.
December 25th was widely celebrated day in the Roman world. On that date, citizens observed the Natalis Solis Invicti (the Birthday of the unconquerable Sun) in honor of the Sun god, Mithras. The festival took place just after the winter solstace of the Julian calendar. Many modern Christmas customs, such as decorating a house with greenery, exchanging gifts and enjoying festive meals, originated with this pagan celebration. Scholars believe that pope Julius selected December 25th as the date of the nativity in order to win followers of Mithras as well as giving Christians an opportunity to honor Christ on his birth date.
In 17th century England, puritans objected to Christian celebrations because they had no clear biblical basis. As a result, in 1643, the parliament outlawed Christmas, Easter, and other Christian holidays. However, December 25th was so popular as a festive day, that by 1660, the citizens reclaimed it. Their neglect of the religious aspects of December 25th resulted in a growing secularization of the holiday.
The Christmas tree tradition was started in Germany in the late 15th century. At that time a popular play depicted the expulsion of Adam Eve from Eden, by a fir tree hung with apples. Soon trees were placed in the homes of Christians who interpreted it as a sym...
THE REAL ST NICK
A vast multitude was imprisoned in every place," wrote an eyewitness. "The prisons -- prepared for murders and robbers -- were filled with bishops, priests, and deacons ... so there was no longer room for those condemned of crimes."
You’d hardly expect to find old St. Nick in jail. But St. Nicholas is more than a children’s Christmas legend. He was flesh and blood, a prisoner for Christ, bishop of the Mediterranean city of Myra.
What do we know about the real St. Nicholas? He was born, ancient biographers tell us, to wealthy parents in the city of Patara about 270 A.D. He was still young when his mother and father died and left him a fortune.
As a teen-ager, Nicholas’ humility was already evident. He had heard about a family destitute and starving. The father had no money for food, much less the dowry needed to marry off his three daughters. He was ready to send his oldest girl into the streets to earn a living as a prostitute.
Under the cover of night, Nicholas threw a bag of gold coins through the window of their humble dwelling. In the morning the father discovered the gold. How he rejoiced: his family was saved, his daughter’s honor preserved, and a dowry for her marriage secured. Some time after, Nicholas secretly provided a dowry for the second daughter. Still later for the third.
But on the third occasion, the girls’ father stood watching. As soon as the bag of gold thudded on the floor, he chased after the lad till he caught him. Nicholas was mortified to be discovered in this act of charity. He made the father promise not to tell anyone who had helped his family. Then Nicholas forsook his wealth to answer a call to the ministry.
At the nearby city of Myra a bishop supervised all the churches of the region. When the bishop died, the bishops and ministers from other cities and villages -- Nicholas among them -- gathered to choose a successor.
Nicholas was in the habit of rising very early and going to the church to pray. This morning an aged minister awaited him in the sanctuary. "Who are you, my son?" he asked.
"Nicholas the sinner," the young minister replied. "And I am your servant."
"Come with me," the old priest directed. Nicholas followed him to a room where the bishops had assembled. The elderly minister addressed the gathering. "I had a vision that the first one to enter the church in the morning should be the new bishop of Myra. Here is that man: Nicholas."
Indeed they did choose him as bishop. Nicholas was destined to lead his congregation through the worst tribulation in history.
In A.D. 303, the Roman Emperor Diocletian ordered a brutal persecution of all Christians. Those suspected of following the Lord were ordered to sacrifice to pagan gods. Nicholas and thousands of others refused.
Ministers, bishops, and lay people were dragged to prison. Savage tortures were unleashed on Christians all over the empire. Believers were fed to wild animals. Some were forced to fight gladiators for their lives while bloodthirsty crowds screamed for their death. Women suffered dehumanizing torment. Saints were beaten senseless, others set aflame while still alive.
Yet persecution couldn’t stamp out Christianity. Rather it spread. Third Century leader Tertullian observed, "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church."
Those who survived Diocletian’s torture chambers were called "saints" or "confessors" by the people, because they didn’t forsake their confession that Jesus Christ is Lord. Nicholas was one of these.
Finally, after years of imprisonment, the iron doors swung open and Bishop Nicholas walked out, freed by decree of the new Emperor Constantine. As he entered his city once more, his people flocked about him. "Nicholas! Confessor!" they shouted. "Saint Nicholas has come home."
The bishop was beaten but not broken. He served Christ’s people in Myra for another thirty years. Through the prayers of this tried and tested soldier of faith, many found salvation and healing. Nicholas participated in the famous Council of Nicea in 325...