Playing for the Master ...
Giving God All the Glory!...

 

Christmas ... Such a Wonderful Time of the Year!!!
    

      Celebrating the birth of Jesus ... For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.  Luke 2:11 ... Yes, it is a wonderful time of the year! ...

     Isn't it interesting that at this time of the year there are many different things associated with the Christmas Celebration that we do not really know the meaning of or where they orginated from ... Because of this, we thought we would share some of these things that we have discovered ...

                                                                                               Have a Merry Christmas! ... Doug & Gina
 
                   

     

The Candy Cane ...

     The development of the candy cane took a few hundred years. Before the invention of the modern pacifier, parents used to give their babies unflavored white sugar sticks to suck on. During the 1670's a German choirmaster had the sugar sticks bent into a shepherd's staff and passed out to children attending the Christmas services. This holiday custom spread throughout Europe and fancy canes, decorated with roses, were used as Christmas decorations in many homes. About 1900 the white candy cane received its traditional red stripes and peppermint flavoring. At the same time the legend of the candy cane came into being. According to this legend, a candy maker in Indiana designed the candy cane to tell the true story of Christmas - a story about a virgin giving birth to a shepherd who would give up His life for the sheep.

      The most obvious symbolism used in the candy cane is its shape. Turned one way, it looks like a "J" for Jesus. The newborn Lamb of God was named Jesus, meaning Savior, because He was destined to "save His people from their sins." [Mt 1:21] Turned the other way, candy canes remind us of the shepherd's staff. The first people to hear of Christ's birth were shepherds guarding their flocks at night. [Lk 2:8-20] Jesus called Himself the Good Shepherd and the Bible frequently compares the actions of the Messiah to those of a shepherd searching for his lost sheep, feeding them, gently leading them, and carrying them in his bosom. [Ps 23; Jn 10:1-18; Is 40:11; Jer 31:10; Micah 5:4; Heb 13:20] The sweetness of the candy reminds us that we are fed on the sweet milk of the Gospel of our salvation and peace. [Eph 1:13; 6:15]

     The hardness of the candy reminds us that Jesus is our rock of refuge. [Deu 32:4, 15, 18; 1 Sam 2:2; 2 Sam 22:32, 47; 23:3; Psa 18:2, 31, 28:1, 92:15; 94:22; 95:1; Is 44:8] In rocky lands like Israel, people often sought shelter from their enemies in the caves or rocky crags of cliffs. Rocks also remind us of the solidness of the promises of Christ who is a precious cornerstone and sure foundation to those who follow Him, but a "stone of stumbling and a rock of offense" to those who reject His gift of peace. [1 Pet 2:6-8]

     The whiteness of the candy brings to mind the Virgin Birth and the sinless life of Christ. [Mt 1:23; Lk 1:34-35] We also are made as pure as the snow through the cleansing action of His blood. [Rev 7:9, 14; Is 1:18]

     The traditional candy cane has 3 small red stripes to remind us of the soldiers' stripes by which we are healed and a larger stripe which represents the blood shed by Christ on Calvary's tree. [Is 53:5; Mt 27:32-50] Some people say that the 3 small stripes honor the Holy Trinity while the larger stripe reminds us of the one true God. Others claim that the small stripes represent our mini-passions or sufferings and the great stripe symbolizes Christ's Passion. A green stripe is sometimes placed on candy canes to remind us that Jesus is God's gift to us. (Green is the color of giving.)

     The peppermint flavor of modern candy canes is said to be similar to hyssop. In Old Testament times, hyssop was associated with purification and sacrifice. During the first Passover celebrations, a bundle of hyssop was used to smear the blood of Passover lambs upon the doorposts of houses so that the Angel of Death would pass over their occupants. [Ex 12:22] Bundles of hyssop were also used to sprinkle blood on worshipers and objects during Mosaic purification rituals. [Ex 24:6-8; Lev 14:4, 49-52] After his affair with Bathsheba, King David appealed to God's mercy crying, "Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me and I shall be whiter than snow." [Ps 51:7] Peppermint reminds us that Jesus is our Passover Lamb. [1 Cor 5:7] His blood cleanses us from sin and destroys the power of death. [Hosea 13:14; 1 Cor 15:54-57; Heb 2:14-15; Rev 20:6]

 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 
The Christmas Tree ...

     Why a Fir tree for your Christmas tree? The origin of the Christmas tree dates back to the early 700's in Germany. There, St. Boniface, a British monk preaching the Nativity to local Germans, toppled an oak tree to prove his point that the oak was not sacred and inviolable. The towering tree crushed everything in it's path except for a small fir sapling. St. Boniface interpreted the fir's survival as a miracle, concluding "Let this be called the tree of the Christ Child". The triangular shape of the fir tree to symbolize the Holy Trinity of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit to un-believers.

     Subsequent Christmases in Germany were celebrated by planting fir saplings. By the sixteenth century, fir trees, indoors and out, were decorated to commemorate Christmas in Germany. From Germany the custom spread throughout Western Europe, and it was the Pennsylvanian Germans who initiated the Christmas tree custom in America in the early 1800's. Therefore, historically speaking, the true, proper tree for your Christmas tree is the fir. Fir is a common name for a number of handsome evergreen trees that belong to the pine family. The fir's needles are softer and more blunt then the pine, and do not grow in clusters like pine, but are distributed evenly all around the branch.

 
Santa Claus ... Tradition? ... Fact or Fiction? ...

     Well, is he real? ... Actually, the truth of the matter is that the modern Santa Claus is a conglomeration of sources, a legendary being that has evolved over the years. Along the way, pre-Christian legends, the story of St. Nicholas, Dutch immigrants to America, Washington Irving, Clement Moore, Thomas Nast, and the Coca-Cola company, all made their contributions.

     It is well known that the name "Santa Claus" comes to us by way of the Dutch "Sinter Klaas," which in turn, was a form of Saint Nicholas. Our modern Santa Claus took his name from the Christian Saint Nicholas.  This enthusiasm was due to the many legends that had grown up around Nicholas: that he had distributed gifts to the poor at night through their windows, had helped dowerless maidens, saved a city from famine, had aided a ship in distress and much more.

     When the Dutch established their colony of New Amsterdam in America in the seventeenth century, they brought with them the traditional "visit" from Sinter Klaas (St. Nicholas) on the eve of Dec. 5. When the English later took over the colony and renamed it New York, the English children began longing to have a kindly "Sinter Klaas" of their own that would bring them gifts.  The Sinter Klaas visit was moved to Christmas Eve and observed then.  Author Washington Irving (1789-1853), is important for the information he gives us on the Dutch version of Sinter Klaas in the early nineteenth century. Washington's 1809 work "The History of New York (also called the "Knickerbocker History") was a satire on the transplanted customs of the Dutch of New York city. The "History" contained several references to the legend of St. Nicholas as observed by the Dutch. 

     There is universal consensus that the person most responsible for shaping the American version of Santa Claus is Dr. Clement Clark Moore, a theology and classics professor at Union Seminary. What did Moore do to earn this honor? He wrote a simple poem for his children in 1822 entitled, "A Visit from St. Nicholas," that begins with the now famous words ... 

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In the hope that St. Nicholas soon would be there.

     Yes, we know it today as "The Night Before Christmas" ... The poem wasn't published until a year later, and that secretly, without Moore's consent. He didn't think it worthy of publishing. Many others did, however, as it was an overnight sensation. Only 15 years later did he permit it to be included in a volume of collected works.

     It was Bavarian illustrator Thomas Nast, that gave us the picture of Santa Claus, now so common. Nast drew more than 2200 cartoons for Harper's Weekly from 1862 through 1886. Many of these were of Santa Claus at Christmas time. Nast was clearly inspired by Moore's 1823 poem, but he also added additional features to the Santa Claus story, such as Santa's home at the North Pole, his workshop filled with elves, and his list of all the good and bad children of the world.

     Believe it or not, the Coca-Cola company also contributed to the modern Santa Claus. Beginning in 1931 and for 35 years, Coke ran advertisements that featured a human-size Santa (not elf-size) drinking Coke. These ads contributed much to the modern image of Santa Claus (and the drinking of coke!).

     When conclusions are drawn about the origin of Santa Claus you can see a variety of things have contributed to what we know as Santa Claus today in America.  There are many other countries with stories with similiar twists fitting their very own culture. In China, he is called Shengdan Laoren, in England, his name is Father Christmas, in France, he's known as Pere Noel, in Germany, his name is Christindl, the Christ Child and the list goes on and on and on.

     We can see that the modern Santa Claus has been shaped by many factors and is a conglomeration of myths and legends. There is one constant in all the stories of Santa Claus. The constant is the Spirit of Love, Compassion and Giving!

     So this really leads us to why do we celebrate Christmas around the world and what should we really focus on about the holiday? Isn't the celebration about the birth of Christ Jesus? ...

     Does not the Word of God say ...

7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
 
8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
 
9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
 
10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
 
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
 
12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
 
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
 
14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Celebrating Christmas ...
 
It started with a baby in a Manger named Jesus ...
 
The Saviour of the World!!!
 
His Love, His Compassion and His Giving ...
 
His Gift of Salvation for You to Receive Everlasting Life 
and Spend Eternity with Him in Heaven ...
 
Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever.
Hebrews 13: 8
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Celebrate Christmas with Jesus Christ
at the Center of it All! ...
 
Jesus is the Reason for the Season!!!

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