The Advent-Christmas season is almost upon us, that joyful time of year when we celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Have you ever wondered how Christmas came to be part of the annual Christian calendar? Here’s the fascinating story, which we begin with a surprising observation. Neither Jesus nor the apostles commanded or even suggested that the church should have a Christmas festival — and no evidence of such a celebration is in the New Testament.
To understand Revelation it is helpful to think of this writing as first and foremost a book of symbols. For example, we see the victorious Christ, riding on a horse (19:11-16). He wields a sword with which he smites the nations. That picture is symbolic of an event and divine power — the return of the Messiah, who destroys the forces of evil.
There’s nothing certain in life except death and taxes, goes the old saying. Taxes we might be able to deal with by making more money or getting government to lower them… but death? What can we do about death? Well, not much — nothing, in fact.
Every Christmas season Christians give thanks to our heavenly Father for his love and grace,
showered upon us through the birth of Jesus.
The traditional carols we sing memorialize the meaning of Jesus’ birth — Joy to the World, O Holy Night, The First Noel, Silent Night, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, O Little Town of Bethlehem, Away in a Manger, God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman — and many others.
“Silent Night” is one of my favorite carols because it speaks so directly to the inspiring
scriptural story. Here are some of the words:
The resurrection of believers to immortality at Christ’s appearing is the hope of all Christians. It’s not surprising, then, that when the apostle Paul heard some members of the church in Corinth were denying the resurrection, he challenged their misperceptions in 1 Corinthians, chapter 15.
Where was God when the tsunami struck in the Indian Ocean on
Dec. 26, 2004? Is God useless in a crisis? What is the fate of those who
perished? As we face such questions, it helps to rehearse the basic principles
of our Christian faith.
Some of the religious leaders at the time of Christ saw most
instances of mass human destruction and untimely death as God’s judgment
against sinners. Christ condemned such uncharitable explanations, saying that
those who so judge should repent of their hurtful attitudes. He said that
victims of tragedy are not worse sinners than others.
God Almighty has set before me two great objects, the suppression of the slave trade and the reformation of manners,” said William Wilberforce (1759-1833), the man who would be the driving force in the ultimate end of slavery in the British Empire.
When Wilberforce was born, English traders were raiding the African coast, capturing tens of thousands of Africans yearly and shipping them across the Atlantic into slavery. An estimated one in four died in route.
On October 6, 1536, Englishman William Tyndale (c.1494-1536) was strangled by the civil executioner in Belgium and his dead body was burned at the stake. His crime? Tyndale had translated the New Testament and major portions of the Old Testament from the original languages into English so that all English-speaking Christians could read the Scriptures in their own tongue.