Christmas Greetings from
The Forgiveness Foundation
Christmas Day 2016 is here! Christians throughout the World are celebrating the birth of the Messiah - Jesus The Christ - their Lord and Savior! Christians assemble to worship Jesus through song, prayer, and word. Christmas is the time of year when families gather to share their time, gifts, and renew their love for one another. Some Christians celebrate Christmas through sharing their talent, gifts, and love with others less fortunate. Christmas is a time of joy! Christmas is a time of renewal! Christmas is a time of worship! Christmas is a time of thanksgiving!
Our greeting would not be complete without a Christmas message. Today’s Bible passage is not a conventional Christmas passage but it expresses the “Spirit of Christmas” quite well.
One of the religion scholars came up (to Jesus). Hearing the lively exchange of question and answer and seeing how sharp Jesus was in his answers, he put in his question: “Which is most important of all the commandments?” Jesus said, “The first in importance is, ‘Listen Israel: The Lord your God is one; so love the lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy.’ And here is the second; Love others as well as love yourself.’ There is no other commandment that ranks with these.” (Mark 12:28-31, MSG*)
In just seven days a new year begins, let’s resolve today, let’s begin today, to live the words expressed by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ seeking Him and His will for our livers with every fiber of our being while loving our neighbors as we love ourselves and Jesus loves us.
We at The Forgiveness Foundation Christian Ministries take this time to wish you and yours a very Blessed Christmas.
*MSG is short for The Message Bible. The Message is translated directly from Greek, not other English translations, however, it includes many common phrases, rhythms, and idioms found in the English language today as a way to help the readers better connect and understand The Message written.
From The Forgiveness Foundation Christian Ministries
The tree is decorated in lights and ornaments made and collected over the years from school projects and various places the family had visited. Stockings hang over the fireplace. A nativity scene is on display across from the tree. Pieces of holly and branches from an evergreen tree are spread throughout the house. Christmas cards from family and friends decorate the mantel. A child slowly walks through the house, taking one last look at the tree, and the lack of presents under the tree, before going to bed with a small grin on his face. He is excited for morning. What will it bring?
As he awakens, he realizes it is Christmas!! He jumps out of bed and, still in his pajamas, runs to look under the tree. Are the presents there? How many? How big are they?
What would your child’s reaction be if he ran out to the tree and saw that there were no presents? What would your reaction be?
On December 21, 2000, Robert Rega and three friends were concerned over their lack of funds to purchase Christmas gifts for their children. Together, they concocted a plan to rob a local motel. They recruited a fifth individual to join them. No one was to be harmed. Several hours later, one man was dead. A security guard, performing his job. Instead of providing a happy Christmas for their children, Robert and his friends ruined Christmas for their families and the family of the security guard. Was it worth it? Are Christmas presents worth losing a lifetime with your children?
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6, ESV)
What are we teaching children about Christmas? We are inundated with advertisements for Christmas gifts from Thanksgiving forward. And now, many stores are beginning advertising before Thanksgiving and beginning their sales on Thanksgiving! How can we focus on what we are truly thankful for when we are worried about presents?
Christmas!!! With the pressure of buying presents finally behind us, we are then faced with the pressure of paying for the gifts which were charged to credit cards. It is exasperating! How can we enjoy the holiday when our focus is not on the Lord?
Christmas is about celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The birth of Jesus Christ was the long-awaited fulfillment of numerous prophecies. His birth was the beginning of providing salvation for all who accept His wonderful gift. How does your celebration of the birth of Christ share the Gospel?
The Christmas season is full of traditions. Some traditions are universal, some are regional, and some are just among family. Each tradition was established at some point in history, be it thousands of years ago or a generation ago. We have already shared with you the origins of the Christmas Tree, but what about Christmas itself? How did Christmas become Christmas?
Christmas became a formal holiday under Roman Emperor Justinian, around AD 529, but the origins of Christmas go back much farther, even before Christ was born. Today we know Christmas as a holiday to celebrate the birth of Christ, however, it started as a pagan holiday. Ancient Rome held a harvest festival to mark the winter solstice and to honor Saturn, the god of sowing, for the upcoming plowing and planting season. Other ancient civilizations, such as Egypt, also held festivals around the time of the winter solstice to gain the gods' favor for the upcoming planting season.
After Jesus’ ascension into Heaven, Christians began celebrating Christ’s birth, “as a means of replacing worship of the sun, with worship of the Son.” Although we celebrate Jesus’ birth on December 25, he was born earlier in the year. Why then, would Christians use a pagan holiday to celebrate? Because being a Christian was illegal and could result in death.
For 300 years, Christians were hunted down and persecuted all over Rome by people like Saul. Saul was a Roman Jew who was greatly feared by Christians, until Jesus revealed himself to Saul. Saul changed his name to Paul and became a dominate force in establishing early Christian churches before being executed in Rome. After Christianity became legal, it was 200 years before Christmas became a formal holiday.
Christmas began as a way for Christians to celebrate their faith openly, yet without persecution. It evolved into a formal holiday. During the Middle Ages, the Christmas traditions continued to grow and expand, eventually becoming similar to the pagan celebration first imitated by Christians. In the 17th century, religious groups, such as the Protestants and the Catholic Church rebelled against and condemned the way Christmas was being celebrated. The Catholic Church responded by promoting Christmas festivals that were more religious in nature. Some groups chose to ban Christmas altogether.
Over the next several centuries, Christmas began to regain popularity, with a more religious view. It once again has evolved and changed into what it is today.
It is important to understand the origins of the traditions we hold. Understanding how these traditions have evolved, we can understand why we have the traditions. The traditions we have today have evolved far from the pagan celebrations that use to share the same date. How is Christmas celebrated in your home?