Tag Archives: Christmas

Day 4: What IS the Real Meaning of Christmas?

The Wreath

When made of evergreen leaves/branches the wreaths symbolize everlasting life with the green color symbolizing hope and new life.

Matthew 12:21
And his name will be the hope of all the world.”

2 Corinthians 5:17
This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

Day four of my journey into discovering the real meaning of Christmas and I arrive at the Christmas wreath.  Upon some needed research, I again discovered no mention of such an object in the story of the birth of Jesus, but rather a tradition started by the church to teach of the birth of Jesus.  Okay I get this one and I respect its’ purpose, however again I am baffled as to how much us as Christians have put into making Christmas more than what it really is.  I am beginning to feel as though Christmas, though very important as it marks the birth of Christ, has just grown into this mass media production trying to draw our attention instead of towards Jesus, but to see all the flashy things we have made it into.  Once again we arrive at the bigger and better displays.  Does one feel that the bigger the display, the more they love Jesus?  I think not.

I must agree I enjoy the concept the wreath represents because Jesus did indeed come to bring hope to the world and give us new life as we accept Him as our savior.  I also saw in one of the explanations that the wreath symbolizes a ring, infinity, circle of life and commitment.  All these things are true when it comes to Jesus, therefore I feel this wreath has more value in the Christmas of today than perhaps the Christmas lights, but is it what God wants us to see?  Do we really look at a wreath and think of all of these symbols?  No we just see the beauty of it whether it is simple green boughs or adorned with lights and bows.  We simply see it for another symbol of Christmas, yet another item to drag out of storage to place on our doors or over our mantels for a month or so only to be placed back out of sight for the rest of the year.  Should we not celebrate hope and new life year round?

I feel as I am taking this moment in my life to really seek the meaning of Christmas that God is drawing me away from every concept I had of Christmas and showing me the real deal.  I am beginning to feel like we left Jesus laying in a manger and wandered off to make Christmas what we wanted it to be instead of what God purposed it to be from the beginning.  As I am searching for answers God is showing me there is so much more than a donkey, Christmas lights or adorned wreaths.  He is teaching me to appreciate what I have in this life.  He is showing me how far off we are in today’s traditions of Christmas and is calling us back to the manger so we can see this birth for what it truly is, a gift of Hope in a broken world.

Advent Wreath

Further information: Advent Wreath

Since the classical use and symbolism of wreaths, the meaning and representation has taken on differing views, depending on the culture. In Christianity, wreaths are used to prepare for the Advent season or the “coming of Christ.”[6] The first known association with these now modern day wreaths dates back to the Lutherans in Germany in the 16th century. In 1839, Johann Hinrich Wichern used a wreath made from a cart wheel to educate children about the meaning and purpose of Christmas, as well as to help them count its approach. For every Sunday of Advent, starting with the fourth Sunday before Christmas, he would put a white candle in the wreath and for every day in between he would use a red candle.[7] The Advent wreath is constructed of evergreens to represent everlasting life brought through Jesus and the circular shape of the wreath represents God, with no beginning and no end. The Advent wreath is now a popular symbol in preparation for the coming of Christ, to mark the beginning of the Christian Church’s year and as décor during the Christmas festivities.

Advertisements

Day 1: What IS Christmas Really About?

The Birth of Jesus Foretold

 26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, 27 to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. 28 Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!]29 Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. 30 “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 And he will reign over Israelforever; his Kingdom will never end!”34 Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”35 The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. 36 What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she’s now in her sixth month. 37 For nothing is impossible with God.”38 Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her.

Definition of ANGEL

1a : a spiritual being superior to humans in power and intelligence; especially : one in the lowest rank in the celestial hierarchy

Definition of CELESTIAL HIERARCHY

: a traditional hierarchy of angels ranked from lowest to highest into the following nine orders: angels, archangels, principalities, powers, virtues, dominions, thrones, cherubim, and seraphim
So, I have been hemming and hawing about how to start this magical journey to find out what Christmas truly means to me.  I decided to begin from the start and choose an angel as my first picture.  Can you imagine Mary when this awesome angel from God came to visit her in the middle of the night?  I personally have never seen an angel, but what a great sight it must have been.  As I was looking trough a quick search of how many times angels appeared in the Bible I noticed they appear quite frequently.  God uses these wonders to help guide and protect us.  He uses them to protect His people from wrong decisions.  He guides them in end times to show the signs of what will come.  In my eyes angels are pretty essential to our walking it out with the Lord.
As I turn my attention to Christmas, angels are prominent to me in the respect of having the right attitude.  Here is Mary now having to face her family and friends with the news that she is pregnant.  Now imagine if you will having to trust an angel and God that all will be okay, that she will not be persecuted or looked down upon.  Instead she simply states that she is a servant of God and moves forward in faith.  Why can we not be more like that when things arise in our lives?  We lose our jobs and freak out about bills and then Christmas arrives and we have not money.  Do you think this is walking in faith as a servant of the King?  Do we not trust God enough to take care of our every need just as the sparrow?

I feel the lesson to be learned here for me on day one of this journey is simply this, if I am calling myself a servant of the Lord then I must act like one.  I need to cast out all fear and doubt and simply know God is working on my behalf.  I need to further accept that I am a carrier of the Presence of God where ever I go, just like Mary as she carried Jesus in her womb.  How do I get to this point in my life?  Well, for the most part I think I have a good grasp on this concept, I just need to apply it to ALL areas of my life, not just the places where I think I can fit God into.  God should be active and involved in all aspects of my life and it is up to me to choose this for my lifestyle.

So to wrap up lesson one, I will concentrate to see where I need to improve on listening to the voice of God and let Him show me where I need to seek Him more.  I will begin to have more faith in both the little and the small and this faith will go with me to every situation I encounter.  I feel the angel was sent as a great sign to Mary that she will be rewarded for her faith.  We know that we all need more faith because what would happen if an angel appeared to you tonight and spoke into your life something that they outside world would never understand. How would we actually react?  “Okay God, as your servant, I will accept and follow” or “Um I need some time to pray and think this over?”  God is calling each of us to have the faith of Mary and to become great carriers of the presence of Jesus.

 

What is the Real Meaning?

Matthew 1:18

New Living Translation (NLT)

The Birth of Jesus the Messiah
 18 This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Just so we are clear and in agreement, does God really give a specific date for the birth of His only Son?  Perhaps God did this for a reason beyond our own comprehension, yet I feel there is a specific reason for His not stating a date.  What if the focus is not to be on the birth of His son, but rather on the purpose for which He was born into this world.  I know birthdays are cool and all and can be milestones and what not, however what is the reality of Jesus’ birth?  He was given life here on earth so that we may receive eternal life with our heavenly Father, was He not?  I feel we have all lost the meaning of Christmas, and maybe, just maybe we need to pause this holiday season and rest in God for awhile to see what He has to say.
I feel an urgency in my spirit to search for God in this season of hustle and bustle, frantic shopping and getting the best deals around town. I actually don’t even feel like getting my tree out this year or doing the traditional stuff until I can put my finger on just what God wants me to see.  I feel, He is showing me through others, that it is about giving and having hope.  We always seem to be in the receiving mode and I believe this hinders us from getting the full benefits God has waiting for us.  If we are constantly in the “gimme stage” we find it hard to give.  God created man for a relationship and so (bear with me) He was sorta in the “gimme stage”.  He wanted someone to worship Him and give Him glory.  He desired to be loved by His very own creation.
Well, when things went wrong, He had to come up with a different way of love and so He gave us a chance to redeem ourselves and offered up to be sacrificed, His one and ONLY Son, Jesus. Should this not bear more significance for us then decorating a tree or wrapping a billion presents or freaking out because of Christmas when we do not have enough funds to pay our bills?  I don’t think God gave us His Son just so we could feel hopeless during the holiday season.  How many get depressed or frustrated?  How many countless others go into debt?  How many lives were injured or lost during Black Friday events over the past few years?  We need a wake up call!  God surely intended us to make a fuss over His Son, but not like we are doing in modern days.
This season should be about giving.  It should be about love, hope, joy, peace and grace; not about finances, hopelessness, depression and anger. It should be a season of resting in God, family gatherings (without the pressures of gifts), home cooked meals, days of baking cookies with the children and many other things God would love to see.  It should be about helping at the shelter or finding a way to help those in desperate need.  It should be about finding food for those who lack and clothing the needy in our communities.  Maybe if we all spent more time giving of our time we would be better at giving gifts:  our God given gifts.  What will Christmas be like in the next ten years?  Will it be all about texting and Skyping to relatives instead of visiting?  Will the objective of the great sales be just to upgrade what we already have at home instead of finding just the right small gift to brighten someones day?
The further I walk with God the more I want to run from the things of this world.  We seem to have to make everything bigger and better.  We seem never satisfied with what we receive.  How can we change this?  Not sure.  Self examination of what Christmas really means to us individually, meaning we would need to spend some serious amounts of time devoted to just God-time.  What if we spent one extra hour a week to reflect on God?  What if we bought one less gift and bought food for the nearby food pantry.  What if we went random Christmas caroling with a group of teenagers just for fun?  What if we decided to make Christmas all about giving and not receiving?  What if we had our hearts in the same place God did when He gave us His only Son?

Yup, lots of what ifs there….hmmmm…pausing to think about such what ifs, I purpose an idea for the first 25 days of December.  I am going to post on Facebook a photo of something Christmas and then write a sentence on how I should be able to relate this to the birth of our precious Savior.  I invite you to do the same.  I then will write a blog each day with the same picture and try to show how I feel about it in more detail.  Feel free to comment your ideas or a picture in particular you may want me to take.  Please tag me in the photo, I want to share in this adventure with you.  I invite you to share this with your friends and families.  Let’s see what happens if we turn our focus on God for just a few minutes each day before Christmas arrives.  Maybe we can further understand what God really wants us to glean from the holiday called Christmas.

The First Black Friday

John 19:28-30

New Living Translation (NLT)

The Death of Jesus

 28 Jesus knew that his mission was now finished, and to fulfill Scripture he said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar of sour wine was sitting there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put it on a hyssop branch, and held it up to his lips. 30 When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and released his spirit.

Matthew 27:45
[ The Death of Jesus ] At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock.

Okay, after reading the verses for this blog, you may think it strange and maybe I have my holidays mixed up, nope I am using it to make a valid point, trust me!  God showed me something today as I was trying to figure out why this man had a tent set up a day before Thanksgiving in 40 degree weather waiting outside an electronics store in anticipation of a Black Friday sale.  This really got me thinking about Christmas and all the lost truth of the season.  God showed me how our focus is way off base.  This holiday has become nothing more that a materialistic chance to get the best deals for some.  Almost every year a life is lost in the struggle to get the items up for grabs.  How have we gotten to this point when it all started in a manger in a stable in the middle of nowhere?  I just cannot wrap my mind around it.  In fact, some times getting the best Black Friday deal isn’t even for a gift that we are going to give to someone else, but for our own selfish gain.  Sorry if I am offending anyone, but this is what the Holy Spirit is laying on my heart, totally not the direction I had planned to go with this. (funny how that happens)

As I entered the electronics store, only there for information on my daughters ipod, I saw all these fabulous material things everywhere trying to grab for my attention.  As we began down an isle looking for someone to help us, we were approached by a cable television salesperson who graced us with a wonderful spiel about the newest and greatest offer that we should hurry and take advantage of.  I had to stifle a giggle as I quickly explained I had given up television watching 2 and half years ago for lent and have not returned to watching it.  The look on his face and the pause in his speech was priceless and he finally stammered to me that if I ever changed my mind to come check it out and walked away quickly.  Sometimes people just cannot understand my choice not to be controlled by tv and that is okay, I gave it up and God filled it with more of Him and I am excited about that.

Anyways, the point I am trying to convey is that material things cannot be taken with us when we leave.  We spend so much of our times “gathering” things we think we need when in reality we are just filling voids in our lives.  We think sometimes the more we have or the more up-graded our gadget is, the more popular we will become.  We fill our house with things and stuff that later end up in a yard sale after they lose their relevancy in our lives.  As we focus on collecting these material things we lose sight quickly on the importance of the non-things in our lives.  While this man is standing line for the best deal on a television or other gadget, he is missing out on precious time with family and friends.  He might miss an opportunity to make a difference in someones life.  He is missing Thanksgiving dinner which usually entails a gathering of family and friends, a chance to make real memories.  I have never been a fan of Black Friday shopping and pretty sure I never will be,  I just cannot see the sense in waiting in long lines and especially in Michigan where it is usually snowing!

Now I understand for some it is just a thrill, but let us go back to the First Black Friday for a moment and relate it somehow to present times.  On a Friday Jesus died for our sins.  The sky turned black and dark.  The earth shook.  God was showing up in a fury.  He was about to crucify His only Son to save us.  How do we repay this dark day?  By celebrating the birth of this Only Son by spending hours in long lines, traveling miles out of our way, camping out in the snow and spending money just to make someone happy.  How on earth did we make such a wrong turn?  We have lost our focus on Jesus in the process.  Let me make it real for you in my family life.  If you have read my testimony, we struggled financially because our finances went to support my husbands drug addiction and our smoking habits, however Christmas was always spectacular in our home.

We decked the house with shiny trimmings a well decorated tree.  Stockings were always filled with individually wrapped gifts.  Even the pets in the house had stockings. We would spend all night wrapping gifts only to be awakened early so they could be ripped open.  Now my husband felt that since we did not spoil our children throughout the year, we should give over and beyond our expected income to make them happy come Christmas morning.  We spent my entire bonus check every year plus our last two checks combined.  We spent ALOT on gifts for our two children.  They had every new thing out there.  Sure it was fun to them, but let us look behind the scenes for a moment.

Fights broke out between me and my husband every Christmas, I actually began to dread it.  We were broke for weeks afterwards trying to catch up as we borrowed money to get through the weeks.  Really?  Did we stop to think for a moment that all our children really needed was a loving home and a few gifts under the tree?  Every year it got worse and I am thankful now that my children are older and understand the value of the dollar bill.  I am way less stressed and much less broke!  I feel we need to get back to the reality of the season.  For unto us was GIVEN a Savior who would save us from all of our sins.  He died on a cross so that we could be free from sin forever. So this year, as we approach yet another Black Friday, what is our real reason behind the season of Christmas?  The best deal for us or the best deal we were ever offered, Jesus.