Home PageJump to Jonal EntryHumorInspirationUse this address for help with your membership.Home PageJump to Jonal EntryHumorInspirationUse this address for help with your membership.

Good Morning Nanty Glo!

Advent - 8 days to Christmas

Friday, December 17 2004

Jon Kennedy, webmaster

The anti-Christmas spirit

Continuing the discussion of the letter posted here on Wednesday, suggesting that Christmas is a lie (there's no evidence Christ was born on December 25 or even in December) and a sign of apostasy (departure from the true faith) in the churches and their members who celebrate it. I want to stress before proceeding, however, that though I'm countering the letter's arguments, I respect the writer and his opinions, which I think he shared honestly and with good intentions. His points are well made and I take them as being offered in a fraternal, courteous, and congenial attitude.

The letter writer quotes a Spanish encyclopedia as saying, “The reason that the Roman Church decided to assign this date to the festival seems to be its tendency to replace pagan festivals with Christian ones… We know that in Rome at that time, the pagans consecrated December 25 as the celebration of Natalis invicti, the birth of the ‘invincible sun.’”

He elaborates this point seemingly to imply that Christmas is a backdoor maneuver by the Roman Church to "Christianize" a pagan festival, as though this is a sinister thing. I used to think that way, too; it's part of the anti-Catholic mythos that makes its rounds in Protestant circles and is especially promulgated by radical sects of the past century that consider "the church of Rome" to be the "babylonian harlot church" prophesied in the Book of Revelation (cf. Rev. 18), as though a "harlot church" would be sneaking pagan days in, disguised as church holy days or feasts.

But the early church—both Western (Roman) and Eastern (Greek)—has never denied that many of the pagan festivals in the Empire were "Christianized" but to redeem them and the time the days gave the church to worship and fellowship, not for sinister reasons. Consider this fictitious but feasible scenario: You're employed as a steward in A.D. 75 on the villa of an Imperial magistrate on the Mediterranean Island of Cyprus (a relatively short voyage out in the sea from the Judean coast), and are a recent convert to the new minority faith called Christianity. Your employer announces that December 25 is a festival throughout the empire, and you and all your family have the day off. The Christians on the island spread the word that they're going to get together on a rare chance to meet without being rushed to get to work, or being suspected by your pagan employers, under the leadership of your esteemed pastor (which the Greek speakers call the episcopos), Lazarus, who was a personal friend of Jesus.

The church meets on that pagan festival day because it's a rare opportunity to spend a good block of "quality time" with the whole community of converts. The group worships, then spends much of the day in fellowship. And the discussion comes around to the irony that the church is able to gain strength and share its agape love because it's a pagan festival day. Someone says this is a fine example of what the Apostles mean by their expression "redeeming the time." Someone else, steeped in the Scriptures, even points out that it may be that they are fulfilling a prophecy or that the festival was planned by God for them, not the pagans, because from their reborn perspectives, the day of the sun celebrates the One referred to in Malachi 4: "But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall."

And this is why the Charles Wesley carol, "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" refers to the s-U-n of righteousness:

Hail! the heav'n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail! the sun of righteousness!
light and life to all He brings
risen with healing in his wings

And an earlier Eastern Orthodox Nativity hymn makes the same emphasis:

Thy Nativity, O Christ our God,
Has shone to the world the light of wisdom.
For by it, those who worshipped the stars
Were taught by a star to adore Thee,
The Sun of Righteousness,
And to know Thee, the Orient from on high.
O Lord, glory to Thee!

Webmaster Jon Kennedy 

A complete index of Jon Kennedy's Jonals for 2004 & 2003

Christmas chuckles

There was this fellow who worked for the Post Office whose job it was to process all the mail that had illegible addresses. One day a letter came to his desk, addressed in a shaky handwriting to God. He thought, "Oh boy, better open this one and see what it's all about." So he opened it and read: "Dear God, I am an 83-year-old widow living on a very small pension. Yesterday someone stole my purse. It had $100 in it, which was all the money I had until my next pension check. Next Saturday is Christmas, and I had invited two of my friends over for dinner. Without that money, I have nothing to buy food with. I have no family to turn to, and you are my only hope. Can you please help me?"

The postal worker was touched, and went around showing the letter to all the others. Each of them dug into his wallet and came up with a few dollars. By the time he finished the rounds, he had collected $96, which they put into an envelope and sent to her. The rest of the day, all the workers felt the warm glow of the kind thing they had done.

Christmas came and went. A few days later, another letter came from the old lady, to God. All the workers gathered around while the letter was opened. It read, "Dear God, I can never thank you enough for what you did for me. Because of your gift of love I was able to fix a glorious dinner for my friends. We had a very nice day and I told my friends of your wonderful gift. By the way, there was $4 missing. I think it must have been those thieving SOBs at the Post Office."

Sent by Judy Rose 

Advent thought for today

Hark! the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled."
Joyful, all ye nations, rise,
Join the triumph of the skies;
With th' angelic host proclaim,
"Christ is born in Bethlehem."
Hark! the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the newborn King!

—Charles Wesley, c. 1750 

Top daily news stories linked from our sister webpage
Xnmp, news that signifies
The Nanty Glo Home Page and all its departments are for and by the whole Blacklick Valley community. Your feedback and written or artistic contributions, also notification about access problems, are welcomed. Click here to reply.

When subscribing or unsubscribing to the list, use the email address to which you receive mail.
No message text or subject are needed on the email.


Search nantyglo.com
Search WWW
Find a word

in Merriam-Webster's
online dictionary


Nanty Glo Home | Blacklick Township Page | Vintondale Page | Jackson Township Page