Did You Know?

Two men and zero women have been

executed in the United States in 2019.

5 Killed in Aurora, Illinois
Five individuals were shot and killed at a manufacturing plant in Aurora, Illinois. Five police officers were injured and the gunman was eventually killed by the police. On the day of the shooting, the shooter was being fired from his position at the plant, where he had worked for the last 15 years. Please pray for the families of the deceased. Please pray for healing for the injured. Please pray for peace.
4 Killed in Kashmir
Four Indian soldiers have been killed in India-administered Kashmir, following a clash with militants. Recently, in the same region, over 40 others were killed in a suicide attack. Pakistani and Indian forces have been battling over the area. Please pray for the families of the deceased. Please pray for peace.
Flooded Gold Mine in Zimbabwe
Nine miners have been rescued alive from a flooded, illegal gold mine in Zimbabwe, while the bodies of 24 others have been recovered. Flooding occurring after a dam burst. While nine have been rescued, dozens of others remain missing and are feared dead. Please pray for the families of the deceased. Please pray for the missing miners and for their families.
9 Killed in Chittagong, Bangladesh
At least nine individuals have been killed, and over 50 others injured, after a fire in a slum in Chittagong, Bangladesh. The cause of the fires is suspected to be a short circuit. Please pray for the families of the deceased. Please pray for healing for the injured. Please pray for all those affected.
Force Withdraw Agreement in Yemen
Government and rebel forces have reached an agreement to withdraw forces around the port of Hudaydah. The withdraw is part of a ceasefire agreement reached last year. The conflict began in 2015, and has resulted in thousands of civilian deaths and injuries. Please pray for peace in the region. Please pray for the families of the deceased and for healing for the injured.
7 Killed in Haiti
At least seven individuals have been killed as a result of protests against the government in Haiti. Protesters are protesting the soaring inflation and accuse the government of corruption and misappropriation of funds. The protesters have also asked for the resignation of President Jovenel Moise. The President has rejected the idea. Please pray for the families of the deceased. Pleas pray for peace.
17 Killed in New Delhi, India
At least 17 individuals have been killed after a fire in a hotel in New Delhi, India. Thirty-five others were rescued from the fire and 19 were taken to the hospital for injured. The cause of the fire is under investigation. Please pray for the families of the deceased. Please pray for healing for the injured.
Heat Wave in Australia
A record heat wave, following a record drought, in Australia have farmers, and others, worried. The drought and heat have caused animals to die and worries that crops will not be able to be planted. Across the globe, the United States is experiencing record cold temperatures. Please pray for all those affected by extreme temperatures. Please pray for their safety and health.

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?

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Daily Reading 

Only through a relationship with Jesus Christ can anyone hope to separate themselves from the power of sin in this world. Through Him, all things are made new. For a complete listing of readings, please download our Bible Study.

 

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