64 thoughts on “Our Daily Thread 12-9-20

  1. From what I hear on the news about the shakeups that will happen in Washington in January, I fear for the future of you young people.

    I pray for you, but the USA is unique in the world. It may be that God has some plan. We are giving up so much, primarily caused by the virus and write-in ballot.

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  2. Chas, God always has a plan. His thoughts are not our thoughts, and His ways are not our ways. We walk by faith, and not by sight. Stop looking at the storm, like Peter did when he tried to walk on the water, and look at Christ. His kingdom is not of this world, remember, so his Church is not tied to any one country, whether that country is powerful or whether it is weak. His Church comes from every tongue, tribe, and nation. The God who sees the sparrow fall numbers the very hairs on heads of those who are His and the impoverished and imprisoned believer in North Korea is no less beloved and cared for by our Lord than the wealthy and free believer in North America.

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  3. An interesting read on Jefferson’s infamous revision of the Gospels: https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2020/december-web-only/jefferson-bible-biography-peter-manseau-religious-books.html

    ‘It wasn’t until 1820, more than a decade out of office, when he finished the fuller second version of his edited gospel. He called it The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth. He read from it devoutly, Manseau says, until he died in 1826.

    ‘But the Jefferson Bible may have proved the opposite of what Jefferson intended. It doesn’t show Jesus to be a great moral teacher once his story is stripped of the miracles, exorcisms, and other acts that the former president found hard to believe. It presents Jesus rather as someone who didn’t do anything. As Manseau writes, “Jefferson’s is a hard gospel. The blind to not see; the lame do not walk; the multitudes will remain hungry if loaves and fishes must be multiplied to feed them. Even those who look to Jesus for forgiveness of sins are left wanting.”’

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  4. Good morning. I have my Wonderful Women of Wednesday Bible study group before long. We are still in 1 Peter. My online group is in Jonah. I treasure these times.

    Art has gotten our cars inspected over the last two mornings so we can get our annual emission stickers. I hate having to deal with such things since the Covid is so rampant right now.

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  5. So, I’ve had my injection now. It comes with pretty dramatic side effects, which I am hoping will not be too dramatic.

    I also had three fillings done. So, I fixed up, sort of, for Christmas.

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  6. Roscuro, Chas knows well that God is in control and that He does not need a “free USA” to accomplish His goals. But Chas, like many of us, is in a state of mourning at the loss of our country. Much as son in law is in mourning at the loss of his wife (she did not die, she quit). We have enjoyed a life of relative ease. A life of great freedom, especially in religion. We have enjoyed a life of our nation taking care of itself enough to be able to offer care to the world. That appears to be ending.

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  7. Morning! The sun is shining and the air is fresh. And we are predicted to be blessed with snow for three days starting tomorrow! Happy!!
    Paul and I discuss the matters of which you speak just about every morning as we have our coffee. We too are grieved at the current state of affairs in this once great nation. The dark cloud on the horizon is concerning to us and we pray for our children and grandchildren. That they might be firmly rooted in their relationship with our Lord. Unwavering when confronted with what seems to be coming. And for those who know Him not, we pray their hearts will be turned towards Him…He has been, continues to be and shall forever be our only hope…for that is why He came for us… ♥️

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  8. Mumsee, O recognize the mourning. But, as Paul said, we do not mourn as those who have no hope.

    Besides, Chas said that he feared “for you young people”. As the youngest here, it seemed fitting I should respond with how I see the future from my end.

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  9. All of the above.

    This is a difficult time we’re seeing and the next few years don’t appear to be easy ones on the horizon from our vantage point right now.

    And along with this continuing pandemic — with cases soaring with alarming speed right now in Southern California — this has just been a very trying period. And many of us have flagging spirits at a time of year that is usually filled with such joy and festivities.

    I wanted to get some Christmas decorations out on the front porch this past weekend but I just didn’t have the enthusiasm for it. So my house remains in a decidedly “Advent” motif — dark with exception of a few solar lanterns along the front porch railing and the single, lighted Bethlehem star hanging in one of the front windows.

    It seems to catch my mood these days as I also lament for friends who are suffering and facing serious illnesses amid everything else.

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  10. Roscuro, we are certainly not mourning without hope. Even following David’s lead in mourning before the actual event! And he is mourning from the eyes of an old person who has seen the good and the bad and been a part of the battle. A tired warrior looking back and seeing it really is all a vapor. The good he and others fought to establish and keep is just gone like a vapor. It was good for a season (along with the bads). Just like each of us, we really mean nothing. All of our efforts will be forgotten after we leave. (obviously God, the One Who matters, does not forget) But we continue to plod on, doing the work set before us.

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  11. I like it that Chas thinks we’re (still) “young people” lol

    Speaking of smog checks (which I won’t have to do for a while now that I have a ‘newer’ — 2018 — car) I should be getting the registration bill this month. It’ll be higher than my old bill for the ’07 Jeep was, but it also comes with a few years in which no smog test will be required.

    I probably need to get my property tax taken to the Post Office today, it needs to be postmarked by the 10th. But I don’t want to have to wait in a line and this being Christmas I may encounter that.

    For some reason I can’t do an e-check payment online and they charge extra for using a debit card. Maybe I’ll see if I can use the bank’s live chat to figure out how I can get set up to pay straight from the checking account (which I think I’ve done for other things in the past, but somehow the property tax sight said it wouldn’t go through last time I tried).

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  12. But Mumsee, the old warrior needs to know that the young warriors continue in hope. Too much ‘gloom and doom’ does not strengthen, but weakens. As Hebrews 12:12-13 says, “Therefore strengthen your tired hands and weakened knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated but healed instead.”

    To use David as an example, when he and his warriors returned from battle to find their city sacked and their families taken captive, it is recorded that David’s men despaired, but “David encouraged himself in the Lord.”

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  13. Absolutely. And we all know the young are optimistic! That is the whole idea behind wanting socialism or communism. Or whatever ism.

    So we look to Job and his companions….

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  14. To everything there is a season applies here. Americans can certainly have days of mourning but that does not cancel out our joy in the midst of sorrow. The Psalms are full of points of David being down and then focusing on God to rise above all the sufferings encompassing him. It is no time to make people feel shame for mourning a loss. It is not just the loss of an election but the gaining of a bitter truth that so many around us are lacking in integrity and can never be trusted and that the justice system has failed pitifully. It does shine a light on God and His perfect truth and worthiness of out trust.

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  15. Mumsee, I am actually not at all optimistic. I view the situation around me quite realistically and am under no illusions to the consequences of unbridled sin in a society. I went back into nursing wondering whether I would ever be able to work in my field in my country again, because of how injustice was creeping into healthcare via unjust laws. I went back because it seemed like the right thing, not the easy thing for me to do. I deliberately placed my head in the lion’s mouth, knowing I could end up losing my head. The Lord brought me through a difficult time in safety, but I know it is far from over yet and the greatest test may well lie further down my road. My hope, not optimism, for the future is not based on isms; but on the certainty of Christ and the knowledge that faithful is he that called you who will also do it.

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  16. It helps, as well, to remember that there is a divine purpose to all of this. It all leads to a working out of his will, though it is not easy to see it from our vantage point.

    It is all, of course, much bigger than us or our particular nation and era.

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  17. I love this Advent meditation on obscurity: https://andreasanborn.com/2020/12/08/obscurity/

    It reminds me of a passage that, in my teen years, resonated with me and has become something of a theme for my life and my future, from Jeremiah 45, Jeremiah’s words to his scribe Baruch:
    ‘You have said, “Woe is me, because the Lord has added misery to my pain! I am worn out with groaning and have found no rest.”‘
    ‘This is what the Lord says: “What I have built I am about to demolish, and what I have planted I am about to uproot—the whole land! But as for you, do you seek great things for yourself? Stop seeking! For I am about to bring disaster on every living creature”—this is the Lord’s declaration—”but I will grant you your life like the spoils of war wherever you go.”‘

    We never hear what happened to Baruch but we know he survived by faith. And ever since I read those words for myself, it has always seemed to me that obscurity with the guarantee of life was a wonderful thing to be promised and all that I, as a teen growing up in a world my elders insisted was going downhill rapidly, needed. Although I have hitherto physically survived despite encountering danger, I see the life that is promised me in my obscurity as being the life of Christ, and it is all I could ever hope for.

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  18. I have friends who are missionaries now, but when we were all younger HE was the LAST person on earth I ever thought would be a missionary. Anyway his wife was/is the youngest among that group of friends. Once we were discussing something and to tell us how young she was she meant to say, “I’m a Spring Chicken” instead she said she was a YARD CHICKEN. I still laugh about it whenever someone says they are the youngest in a crowd…..
    So, Roscuro, are you a Spring Chicken or a Yard Chicken among us?

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  19. Well, Kim, I am not as young as I once was. I was a spring chicken among you when I started posting on World, just 25 going on 26. That was over eleven years ago. I have reached the prime of life, and will turn 40 in a few short years. I am a mature adult now, and older by three years than our Lord when he died (I was in Nunavut when I was 33, causing one of the nurses to quip I was “the age of our Lord”. But, I still feel a bit like Elihu amongst you:
    “I am young in years,
    while you are old;
    therefore I was timid and afraid
    to tell you what I know.
    I thought that age should speak
    and maturity should teach wisdom.
    But it is a spirit in man
    and the breath of the Almighty
    that give him understanding.
    It is not only the old who are wise
    or the elderly who understand how to judge”

    Elihu was not wrong in what he said – he is never reproved like Job’s three friends, or corrected as Job was. But he was still a bit hasty. I have lost some of my haste in recent years, the effect of approaching 40 – those who can recall what I was like 11 years ago should see a difference now. But sometimes, I do still have to speak.

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  20. I just realized, while I have been acquainted with y’all for those eleven years, I did not gather the courage to comment for myself until early 2011, making it nearly ten years y’all have known me.

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  21. I wrote a series of posts about the Advent season in 2016. I recycle the series each year through Twitter. I also share a booklet I wrote called Another Look at the Advent stories, which examines the Biblical characters involved in the original Advent.

    Just another hack writer sharing her thoughts on her blog.

    However, for some reason–I’ll never figure out who reads what on my website–more than 400 people have read my blog post about Advent Peace in the last week. My blog reader numbers have never been higher, though they’re still pretty modest.

    Anyway, I thought I should read the post to see if I could figure out why so many were reading it.

    To my surprise, I’d forgotten it was my testimony!

    I still have no idea why people are reading it, but I’m so heartened by that remembrance of an Advent season long ago when my entire life changed. Thanks be to God.

    If you haven’t seen it, and I can’t imagine you haven’t, here it is: https://www.michelleule.com/2016/12/06/advent-peace/

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  22. In other news, it’s a challenge to get your eyes examined while wearing your glasses AND a mask!

    Foggy . . . LOL

    The new guy, who is replacing an optometrist who is responsible through his church for Hill in Sicily, is also a Christian. He came alive talking about Jesus!

    Totally fun. He was also very thorough.

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  23. Roscuro, no, I realize your hope is not in the ism’s. You are trusting in Christ and that is all good. But all of these masses of young folk out making their demands for fairness for all, all at the cost to the wealthy, are trusting in the ism’s. And those young folk gathering to make their voices heard, in the pro life side, are also often trusting in the ism’s. Whether capitalism or socialism or whatever. Trusting the government to make it right. We know only God can make it right though He sometimes uses government or individuals or whatever tools He chooses.

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  24. And my third bit of news is from the EMT who attended a briefing on COVID and the vaccine.

    The numbers in DJ’s county are grim.

    The vaccine, however, is “very exciting” in her words. Of the 5% who have a reaction to the vaccine, it was mild. She’s very pleased.

    So, if you’re afraid of the vaccine, don’t be.

    I now own a shield and will be wearing it to work in an hour–where I have hours of filing to do!

    I’ll let you know what I think–and if/how I see through it!

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  25. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we will trust in the name of the Lord our God.

    I listened to Jeremiah 29 twice last night. That meant I heard the teaching 1.5 times (sleeping the other .5)

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  26. The vaccine is exciting from a scientific viewpoint, a kind of “Wait a minute, we can manufacture vaccines a lot quicker now!” moment – the way the vaccine is being made eliminates the need to reproduce vaccines within lab cell lines for manufacture, an expensive process and one that had ethical concerns attached to some of the sources of those cell lines (not every vaccine manufactured used the questionable cell lines, contrary to claims from anti-vax). But, there are still quite a few questions to be answered, such as how long will immunity from the vaccine last, will it vaccinate against all strains of COVID-19, or will each mutation need its own vaccine, will it cause any long term effects, etc.? Those kinds of questions are present with every vaccine brought out of course, but that is why I am cautiously optimistic about the vaccine.

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  27. I’m so weary of this pandemic. The vaccine can’t get here soon enough (and since I have never had bad reactions to flu or other vaccines, I have no reticence about getting this one when my turn comes).

    I mailed my property tax this morning at the local post office (but used the outdoor box as there was quite a line with folks waiting to ship boxes). It should get postmarked tomorrow, the 10th, so it won’t be delinquent; the box said mail is “picked up” at 4 p.m. today. Still, I prefer to drop it inside when they can actually postmark it right away just to ease my mind that it won’t be late, but I’m sure it will be fine.

    As I was going back to the car I noticed the door to my hair salon was open so I slinked in to ask if they were taking appointments — they are, under the radar, as many other salons are doing as well, I have heard.

    Probably a bit on the “risky behavior” side considering our runaway numbers right now, but it’s been nearly a year (Feb. 2010?) since my hair was last cut and it’s annoying me; it also doesn’t look particularly great at this length now so I’m always tying it up in a knot. So my stylist will take me at 4 p.m. Saturday. Chop/chop.

    Should I double-mask?

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  28. We were given the really bizarre alien-style masks from the company for potential fire coverage assignments a couple months ago. But that would look way weird lol

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  29. Um, DJ? Masks on folk going to shop looks way weird. Masks on folks in church looks way weird. Masks on people driving alone in their car…we won’t even look at that…

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  30. Hair wet.

    Just getting to email now, it’s been a busy day! This interesting comment from Breakpoint, I’d not heard this before:

    S. argued that December 25th was not chosen as the date for Christmas in order to co-opt a pagan solstice festival. More likely, it was based on an ancient Jewish belief that people are conceived on the date of their deaths. Since Christ died on or around March 25th, some Church Fathers believed that Christ must have been conceived on that day and born nine months later… December 25th.

    Was this Jesus’ actual birthday? No one knows, of course. Still, the choice to celebrate Christ’s birth at the end of December reflects a “sacramental” view of reality, which Christians have held through the ages.

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  31. cheryl, Haha, good catch — you editors. lol

    My hair would be way longer in that case … but no, it was probably February of this year, right before the pandemic arrived.

    I kept missing the windows of time when the salons were briefly reopened here and there. Now they’re not supposed to be open but many are operating quietly nonetheless, taking only a couple customers at a time I would imagine. I feel a little conflicted about going in right now due to the big surge we’re having, but I was so happy at the thought of finally getting my hair cut I think I’ll follow through and brave it.
    ++++++++++++++++++++++
    I’m still mourning my childhood friend’s dire diagnosis, we’ve private-messaged a couple times, but she’s clearly depressed, not saying much. I told her I was thinking about and praying for her throughout the days and she could call anytime just to vent or whatever, I’d listen.

    I also learned yesterday that a friend in town who got our town’s first (and only) dog park opened (after much angst and work) in 2003 has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and is homeless (she refuses to take the mediations). She’s living in the parking lot near a tree at the Bank of America with a car that doesn’t run and a tent. It’s so sad and shocking. I’m thinking I’ll try to talk with the social worker in town who knows most of the homeless and works to get them help — just at least to get her on her radar.

    Just so much sad news right now.

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  32. michelle, good advice and I was thinking the same.

    I view Christmas as a celebration not so much of the birth of Jesus, but of the incarnation itself. No, it’s not proscribed by Scripture or by our church in any formal way.

    But I see it’s value in the church and community at large — it’s frankly a unique evangelism tool.

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  33. My sweet friends and I just had our “circle the wagons” meet up at the park. We pulled our four cars in and sat in a circle talking though our windows…yes…we got looks from other park goers! 😂 but it was a beautiful day in the forest 60 degrees and we needed “therapy”!!
    Tomorrow the snow begins and we will be stuck inside…so it is good to chat with girlfriends for a couple hours face to face…even if our faces were 20 ft apart and we were inside our cars.
    Dj I got such a horrid cut in July I declared I would never again let someone cut my hair. I did let someone trim it up on September but I have trimmed my bangs myself….I have tried to let the bangs grow out but always become frustrated and trim away! Maybe I should just wear a beanie cap all winter…. 🧢

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  34. Michelle, I’d heard the conception and death date theory as the “most likely” reason for the date.

    I don’t think it’s “bad” to celebrate the incarnation, and do find it interesting that it opens some doors to unbelievers. But my husband and I independently (before we married) decided there are basically at least three reasons for Christmas:

    (1) celebrating the incarnation;
    (2) an excuse to get together with family and friends;
    (3) a commercial event that encourages people to buy lots of stuff they probably can’t afford

    –and that we’re most comfortable with #2. Number one too often ends up with elements of the “mass,” its origins as a Roman Catholic holiday, and it also way too often over-sentimentalizes the incarnation (Jesus as a baby) and takes the emphasis off the death and resurrection that Scripture has. We also know people who basically see Christmas as a religious holiday, something we should celebrate as Christians, and that somehow is more holy than the Lord’s Day. There’s a bit of a guilt trip involved, that you can’t just enjoy the holiday as a time to enjoy family and friends, but you have to make it “sacred.”

    The funny thing is, three or four years ago I told my husband I really didn’t like the two manger scenes we put out in the living room every year, and I knew he didn’t either, and I wondered why we were still doing it. He said the girls were used to having them, but after we discussed it he told the girls that we weren’t going to be using them anymore (and why). One was disappointed, but one was very happy with the decision. In other words, three out of four of us in the household had come to believe that images of Christ as a baby were a negative and not a positive, but we were all leaving them in place to avoid offending or disappointing the others!

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  35. I forgot to mention earlier

    We can celebrate Christmas now. I heard Bing sing today. It was on the radio (I think). He wasn’t singing White Christmas, but that doesn’t matter.

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  36. Christmas, as a holiday, is not uniquely Roman Catholic. It’s observance as a Christian celebration predates the schisms that eventually created the Western Roman Catholic Church, as distinct from the Eastern Orthodox, the Coptic, and the Assyrian Churches. When Christmas was first observed, all those churches were still in unity, and each of them has their own traditions around that original celebration. Dates have shifted slightly, as the Eastern churches kept to the Julian calendar for their liturgy, and each tradition emphasizes a different aspect of the Incarnation, but they all mark it somehow.

    As for the meaning of the actual name Christmas, it has far outgrown it’s association with Mass in the minds of the majority of people, so much so that its etymology has to be explained. And, like Easter, it really is only the name for the celebration in Germanic languages. The French is Noel, the Spanish Navidad, both related to the word nativity via Latin. What’s in a name? I have a cousin who has changed his English version name of a Biblical figure to the Greek original, and he also insists on using Yeshua for Jesus and Yahweh for God. He clearly thinks it makes him more spiritual, but his obsession with word origins is leading him into the territory of heresy (I Timothy 6:4). The God who used the Greek pagan terms for God (theos) and Lord (kurios – the pagan gods were called by the same term) to describe himself when inspiring the writers of the New Testament is not worried about etymological origins of words, and has warned his followers to avoid the same.

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  37. Roscuro, I was simply saying that the standard “image” of the manger scene is far more Roman Catholic than it is Protestant. The etymology of words does actually mean something sometimes–it isn’t an ungodly thing to mention it. Christmas is at best not a Mandatory Holiday All Christians Celebrate, and that’s my primary “protest.” When churches cancel services on the Lord’s Day because it happens to coincide with Christmas, and when Christians judge their neighbors’ faith by whether or not they have a manger scene in their front yard, then we are putting way too much emphasis on a completely extrabiblical celebration.

    I have no problem with people choosing to celebrate it. But it isn’t a mark of Christianity to have an event specifically focused on Jesus’ infancy. It’s optional, and some find it helpful and some don’t.

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  38. Cheryl, I know Christians who judge their neighbour’s faith by whether they celebrate Christmas and have a Christmas tree – because they regard Christmas as a pagan and/or popish celebration and view the tree as idolatrous. I really have never encountered anyone who thought it was a Christian duty to celebrate Christmas, but I have encountered plenty who think it a Christian duty to not celebrate it. And never have I known a church to cancel their service because Christmas fell on a Sunday. Oh, I am sure these things happen, but I have never seen it. I do not think there is any kind of trend towards mandating Christmas be celebrated by Christians. If I judged by my experience alone, I would say the trend was in the opposite direction..

    As for the etymology question, in this case there is no significance. The French and Spanish words, despite the historical connection of both France and Spain with the Roman Catholic Church, have no reference to Mass. It is simply an accident of linguistics that the Germanic languages do, and all the more ironic, since it was the countries who spoke the Germanic tongues that took the lead in the Reformation. Since not a few of those Germanic Reformers happily kept Christmas (Calvin did not, but he was of French origin), that I do not think even in their minds they saw the name of Christmas as Popish.

    Manger scenes are a part of the other historical churches traditions other than Catholic. The Early Church was hardly a model of according to Presbyterian ideals – Augustine would probably not have gotten along with Calvin, however much they agreed on the doctrine of election – and from at least the 200s, the nativity was one of the decorations carved on Christian sarcophagi, as well as used in decoration in early church basilicas: https://www.britannica.com/topic/Nativity-Christian-art

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  39. I was thinking last weekend would have been our church dinner and party at a rented facility in the city hall, always a big deal with music and other performances by church members.

    December 2021 should be a sweet time of celebration, appreciated all the more for the year we’ve just been through.

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  40. I have come to appreciate the idea of a liturgical year to remind believers of the life of their Lord, and what it means to them in their state. Is is necessary, no, but neither is it wrong. Oh, having been around enough naysayers, I know how the liturgy would be argued against – with Paul’s criticism of the Galatians for observing days and months and times and years being the main text. But Paul was fighting against the legalistic practice of Judaism in the Church. He himself, as a Christian who was Jewish, still observed those Jewish traditions such as Passover, but he strongly objected to Christians of non-Jewish origin being made to feel they had to observe Jewish traditions in order to be true Christians. But, the liturgical year is something Christians made for themselves. When it is mandated, as various churches with state control have done in the past, it is wrong to do so, but Christians are certainly free to use it.

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  41. We’re currently thinking our Christmas Eve service will be in the middle of the afternoon when the day will be the warmest!

    But “everything is subject to change.”

    The good news on that is, our members will become even more involved with the church website!

    🙂

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  42. BTW, Roscuro, I do know that some people argue against Christmas. My sister had some in one of her previous churches, and her husband started studying to see if it was OK for them to celebrate Christmas. After a few weeks decided it wasn’t fair to put his family “on hold” wondering if they could have Christmas that year or not, and so for that year at least they would do it, and he ultimately decided yes, they could celebrate Christmas. But that’s the only case I personally know of, and it’s secondhand and in a community that has quite a bit of legalism in it. I haven’t met such people personally.

    I personally have seen the other side, the “better put up the manger scene this year, even though I’m tired and don’t feel like it, since Jesus will be disappointed in me if I don’t.” The ones doing it are my husband’s family, so he grew up with that element, and it’s part of the reason for his distaste now. He’s also seen Mother’s Day and Father’s Day as having pretty much more importance than the Lord’s Day, and he barely tolerates those celebrations now. (He does call his mom on Mother’s Day, but privately to me he bemoans that the church has been allowed to get so distracted on those days.)

    So I’m content with kind of a “middle-of-the-road” position. The Christmas carols and the emphasis on the Incarnation can be good reminders if they aren’t sentimentalized to triteness, but we personally avoid manger scenes and other depictions of Jesus, especially “cute” ones. Our church has a Christmas candlelight service each year one evening in December, and though I can’t go this year, I usually do. We have a Christmas tree, and we give gifts. But we don’t see Christmas as a religious holiday or of spiritual importance–and it feels like a relief rather than a loss. (There’s a lot of uptightness in the circles that worry whether or not the community around them is “keeping Christ in Christmas.”)

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