Friday, December 23, 2011

Does It Really Matter?

For many years as a Christian Church Pastor I tried in vain to get church people to follow the bible in our practices. Culture keeps chipping away at the meaning and actions of our Christian Celebrations. It started early, very early, when church leaders incorporated two pagan celebrations into Christian celebrations. They moved the birth of Christ from January to the solstice day of December 25th and there it stayed in the Western Church. They changed the name of Resurrection Sunday to Easter Sunday to move Romans from the pagan goddess to Christ.  Then we have the whole X-mas thing which is a misunderstanding of the Greek letter “X” spoken as “chi” for Christ.

After 40 plus years of trying culture has won out. I know that I can never change what is to tightly locked up in people's minds and hearts. I have to ask myself, “Does it really matter?”

If we know what we mean does it matter what it use to mean?
If we actually do celebrate the birth of Jesus does it matter what day we choose?
If we celebrate the Resurrection does it matter what we call it?

The real test is that Christians do what Jesus taught! That is what really matters.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas in the Gospels

Each of the Gospels portrays the events of Christmas differently.

The Gospel According to Mark ignores it all together. That Gospel starts with the Baptism. Even if this was all the Gospel I had I could be a Christian.

The Gospel According to Matthew has an angel visiting Joseph to inform him what he must do. Joseph is apparently living in Bethlehem. He is told that the child shall be called  “Emmanuel” but he names the boy Jesus. After that the “wise men” from the East show up to honor the new king of the Jews. Joseph is warned in a dream to flee to Egypt.  Ken Herod has boys under the age of two in Bethlehem killed. After Herod’s death Joseph moves to Nazareth.

The Gospel According to Luke starts with the story of the birth of John the Baptist who is apparently a relative of Jesus. Here in Luke the angel come to Mary to announce the startling news that she will conceive with out the help of a male and bear a son. She goes to visit her relative Elizabeth for three months. Here Mary and Joseph live in Nazareth and go to Bethlehem to register for a Roman tax. That was a rough trip for a pregnant woman. Luke has humble shepherds’ come to visit Jesus. They take Jesus to the temple where to prophets Simon and Anna proclaim him the one. After all that the family returns to Nazareth with no detours.  

In the Gospel According to John what we have of the Christmas story is all from the point of view of heaven “The Word” became flesh and dwelt among us.

Since then Christians have combined Matthew and Luke and added many traditions about the story that are not in the bible text.

Fair Weather Lover

An ardent young man away in collage wrote his sweetheart a letter. In this love letter he said, "I would swim the deepest river for you, I would climb the highest mountain for you. I would dash through fire and fight wild beasts for you.

He closed with a PS : If it doesn't rain I will drive home this week-end to see you.

This reminds me of the way some Christians profess their love of Jesus and nod in agreement when the preacher tells them that Jesus said to love one another and love our enemies and take care of the poor among us, but then do  nothing about it.

When we say the words but do not do the actions is that a sign that we do not really believe?