65 thoughts on “Our Daily Thread 12-21-20

  1. Good morning. I am on the WP Reader app so have not seen the header yet. A treat for later.

    Kamala is in Atlanta today so many in this area will be enjoying her attention to Georgia and Hollywood Jr.

    When I awakened at 6 my nose felt a bit stuffy. The Mucinex wore off at 4. I took another and my nose cleared right up.

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  2. Peter, that was a tricky call on the winner. I was thankful to be in the top three. Somehow I feel I have improved a tad on my picks this season. I am trying to figure out why. Covid Luck?

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  3. In case you need a good cry this morning:

    JoJo Tabares

    My pastor shared this story on Sunday. I tried to verify it, but some say it’s a true story. Others say it can’t be confirmed. The story is the same everywhere I looked, but the names of the missionaries are never revealed. It’s a great story either way so I’m going to share it because it has a great message.

    Two Babes in a Manger

    In 1994, two Americans answered an invitation from the Russian Department of Education to teach morals and ethics (based on biblical principles) in the Russian public schools. They were invited to teach at prisons, businesses, the fire and police departments, and a large orphanage. About 100 boys and girls who had been abandoned, abused, and left in the care of a government-run program were in the orphanage. They relate the following story in their own words:

    It was nearing the holiday season, 1994, time for our orphans to hear, for the first time, the traditional story of Christmas. We told them about Mary and Joseph arriving in Bethlehem. Finding no room in the inn, the couple went to a stable, where the baby Jesus was born and placed in a manger. Throughout the story, the children and orphanage staff sat in amazement as they listened. Some sat on the edges of their stools, trying to grasp
    every word.

    Completing the story, we gave the children three small pieces of cardboard to make a crude manger. Each child was given a small paper square, cut from yellow napkins I had brought with me. No colored paper was available in the city. Following instructions, the children tore the paper and carefully laid strips in the manger for straw. Small squares of flannel (cut from a worn-out nightgown an American lady was throwing away as she left Russia), were used for the baby’s blanket.

    A doll-like baby was cut from tan felt we had brought from the United States.
    The orphans were busy assembling their manger as I walked among them to see if they needed any help. All went well until I got to one table where little Misha sat. He looked to be about 6-years-old and had finished his project. As I looked at the little boy’s manger, I was startled to see not one, but two babies in the manger.

    Quickly, I called for the translator to ask the lad why there were two babies in the manger. Crossing his arms in front of him and looking at this completed manger scene, the child began to repeat the story very seriously.

    For such a young boy, who had only heard the Christmas story once, he related the happenings accurately — until he came to the part where Mary put the baby Jesus in the manger. Then Misha started to ad-lib.

    He made up his own ending to the story as he said, “And when Mary laid the baby in the manger, Jesus looked at me and asked me if I had a place to stay. I told him I have no mamma and I have no papa, so I don’t have any place to stay. Then Jesus told me I could stay with him. But I told him I couldn’t, because I didn’t have a gift to give him like everybody else did. But I wanted to stay with Jesus so much, so I thought about what I had that maybe I could use for a gift. I thought maybe if I kept him warm, that would be a good gift.”

    So I asked Jesus, ‘If I keep you warm, will that be a good enough gift?’ And Jesus told me, ‘If you keep me warm, that will be the best gift anybody ever gave me.’ So I got into the manger, and then Jesus looked at me and he told me I could stay with him’ — for always.”

    As little Misha finished his story, his eyes brimmed full of tears that splashed down his little cheeks. Putting his hand over his face, his head dropped to the table and his shoulders shook as he sobbed and sobbed. The little orphan had found someone who would never abandon nor abuse him, someone who would stay with him — for always.

    And the Americans? They had learned the lesson they had come there to teach – that it is not what you have in your life, but who you have in your life that really counts.

    We should all give thanks for the people that “keep us” — in life — and for all of God’s many blessings to us: freedom from want, life, love, togetherness, and for the enduring love of Jesus Christ, the one person who keeps us warm and safe for always.

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  4. Good morning everyone. Especially Linda.
    And a happy birthday to Linda.
    My Lindas took me to the eye doctor for an exam. Same as it was. ie. No change.
    That is good news. When you reach 90, all change is bad.

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  5. Good Morning! And Happy Birthday Linda! 🎂
    That Jim certainly is a talented artist isn’t he? It just causes me to smile thinking that you have two of his beautiful creations Kizzie! ♥️
    It will be a snow melting sort of day around here…in the 50’s…a good take a walk kind of day!
    Chas I am always happy to hear the eye doctor say there is no change although if it were a change for the better that would be welcomed news….

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  6. Michelle, the teaching “morals and ethics (based on biblical principles)” makes me think the teachers were Gothard folks. He’s very much into ethics based on the Bible being good for everyone, whether or not one ever gets to the Gospel.

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  7. Gothard and his institute were very much in Russia in 1994, and they did teach in prison and other institutions. They even ran an orphanage there. And yes, as Cheryl said, they put more emphasis on moral principles than on the Gospel. They used to argue that they used the moral character lessons as a point of entry, that the Gospel could be brought in later.

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  8. Notice the odd language they use to relate the incident, “the traditional story of Christmas”. The wording is what I am used to hearing from religious skeptics, referring to the Incarnation events as a tradition. Little Misha’s response of faith comes in spite of how those telling the story distanced themselves from its real application in how they told it. His response reminds me of my grandmother’s story of how she came to faith, hearing a simple Sunday School lessons about the parable of the lost sheep, and simply understanding that Jesus was the shepherd and she the lost sheep.

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  9. I had a bad night last night, from about 2-4, I lay awake.

    During the first part of that wakefulness, I thought about all the mistakes I’ve made, the disappointments I’m providing this Christmas, all the things I have to do, all the pressures that don’t seem to relent, and how all I really want to do is escape into a good book.

    As I sank lower and lower, where at least it was warmer in the bed :-), I suddenly thought, “Wait. Where do these accusations come from?”

    Somewhere last week, I heard the Enduring Word teacher (I think it was out of the last chapters of Hosea, ask, “Are you living in the Old Testament or the New?”

    This is my paraphrase, so please be forgiving. His point was, those of us who see our God as a God of punishment for our mistakes, are looking to the Old Testament Law.

    The New Testament God is Jesus– the God of grace, mercy, and loving-kindness.

    I actually stopped walking to stare at my phone, realizing I’d spent too much time wondering what God was punishing me for. The reality IS, He is loving me through difficult times. I need to refocus my eyes from the circumstances and ME to Him.

    That came to mind in the middle of the night and I stopped dwelling on my errors and instead chose to thank God and praise Him for the blessings. That helped a great deal.

    And the bed remained warm. 🙂

    Once I got my eyes off how horrible I am, I could turn to praying for many of the hurting people in my life–and that includes many of you.

    It was an honor to pray–and it helped me.

    There’s too much nagging and scolding and flying accusations out there these days.

    I’m going to focus on joy, grace, peace, mercy, loving-kindness, and remember the reason for the season.

    I’m also going grocery shopping right now.

    Blessings to you all! 🙂

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  10. Good morning.

    Loved the story, Michelle! What a message…and what we try to get a cross in our home. Jesus is the One Who will always be there for them. He is the One Who invites us in. He is the treasure of life.

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  11. Happy Birthday Linda, enjoy celebrating

    I have today off, which I desperately needed. I’m still hoping I’ll be able to also take all of New Year’s week off — just realized it would feel especially long as we have a short week this week.

    The vigil for my friend continues, we get daily updates. It’s so sad for all of us, but especially for her brother. I sounds as if the family is allowed to be with her which is good, and that she’ll be able to remain in the hospital where they said the care has been so good.

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  12. This is not to “stir up controversy,” but because I think it does a great job of explaining our reasons not to put up manger scenes (or send out Christmas cards or stamps depicting them) or use art showing Jesus. https://gentlereformation.com/2020/12/11/away-with-the-manger/ (By Kyle Borg.) I suspect most people haven’t even heard an actual argument against the practice, and I think this one makes the case well. (BTW, since I haven’t quoted the whole thing, if you have an argument with what is said here, it might be answered in the article itself.) I don’t know how to format quotes, but the rest of this is quoted:

    We should remember that Christianity is a revealed religion. What that means is that at its center Christianity isn’t about man discovering God but God making himself known to man. . . .

    But the incarnation isn’t only revelation. It is, if I can split a bit of a hair, also interpretation. The Apostle John wrote: “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known” (John 1:18). . . .

    It’s this significance of the incarnation that is one of the reasons I think we should do away with the manger scene and pictorial representations of Jesus. Why? Because by their creation these images are trying to picture for us God in the flesh. But the incarnation has meaning and you cannot abstract a picture of the incarnate Jesus from that meaning. Thus, an image or picture of Jesus becomes a way to reveal and interpret God to us – inevitably, every representation of Jesus is saying something about God. Or, to express it this way, any and every picture of Jesus makes the claim: “Here is a representation of God.”

    . . . When is the last time you saw someone bowing down at the nativity? I never have! But here I would add the third of the Ten Commandments: “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain” (Exodus 20:7). This command requires that God, as he makes himself known, is to be revered and worshiped. If we follow the logic it seems inescapable. A picture of the incarnate Son — which is a representation of God — should not, by the third commandment, be treated with indifference or else it’s a vain picture. Back to the second commandment! God forbids that we use images to revere and worship him. The only way out of the moral dilemma is to not make pictures of Jesus!

    As scenic and nostalgic as the nativity scene may be the fact that the Jesus, the Word of God, was made man doesn’t entitle us to make pictures of him. To do so actually detracts from the true meaning — not of Christmas — but of the incarnation. It cheapens the sublime and practical truth of the God-man. Christ wasn’t manifest in the flesh to give us sentimental feelings or a mantle centerpiece. No, the eternal Son of God took to himself human nature that we might have the knowledge of the glory of God revealed and interpreted in the face of Jesus Christ. So, I say with seasonal cheerfulness: “Away with the manger!”

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  13. I finished a very simple newsletter. Please pray the person checking it will get it done today. I want to get it printed and sent out. It is always sweet to see the way God changes it overnight.

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  14. Cheryl, as I have previously mentioned, the early church, from at least the 200s on (the archeological record goes back at least that far), used nativity depictions in their art. This during a time when they were actively being persecuted by the idolatrous pagan Roman emperor. Clearly, although surrounded by idolatry, they did not perceive physical depictions of the Life of Christ as idolatrous. In fact, they used them to declare, contra the Arians, that God was come in the flesh. Jesus is the image of God (Colossians 1:15) and by coming as a human, he made himself tangible to the physical senses. He evens, after the Resurrection, tells his disciples to touch him to confirm that their senses of hearing and sight were not fooling them. It is that tangible reality which is being acknowledged in manger scenes, etc. I do not think we should pray before such images, and certainly, they have and are idolized by some, but neither do I find anything wrong with them. This is a matter of individual conscience (Romans 14). And the poster of that little exposition, while entitled to his opinion, does not have the authority to bind the consciences of his readers, especially not those who are not members of his church.

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  15. From one of our stories today:

    ~ Hope, fear and misinformation are in plentiful supply as the “light at the end of this long, dark tunnel” glistens. So here’s the latest on COVID-19 immunity — and the law regarding mandatory vaccinations — as Moderna’s vaccine is packed for shipment and more of Pfizer’s vaccine wends its way to California.

    But a word of caution. “Vaccines are critically important, and it’s quite remarkable how effective the first ones seem to be — but it’s not a cure, and it’s not perfect,” said David D. Lo, distinguished professor of biomedical sciences at UC Riverside.

    “No vaccine protects 100% of the people 100% of the time. That’s why people talk about this larger question of ‘herd immunity.’ Some people won’t be able to take the vaccine because of allergies or other issues. How do you protect them? You make sure everyone else is protected.”

    Timothy Brewer, professor of epidemiology at UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health and a member of the infectious diseases division at the David Geffen School of Medicine, agrees.

    “This idea about reaching herd immunity through natural infection — there’s no such thing,” Brewer said. “Smallpox never went away until we had a smallpox vaccine. Polio never went away until we had a polio vaccine. Herd immunity is stopping transmission, and that has never happened without a vaccine.” ~

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  16. Yes, the diseases that disappeared without having a vaccination created disappeared on their own, no known natural explanation never reached herd immunity. There is, of course, a supernatural explanation to those who believe in a God that directs the course of all earthly events, but that falls outside the realms of science to either detect, explain, or predict. SARS vanished without infecting enough people to get anywhere near heard immunity. The Spanish flu also vanished, and while large swathes of the population living at the time had it, it should have, like smallpox and polio did, have kept recurring at intervals when the population had changed enough for a large section to be non-immune (i.e. when the children born after the pandemic had grown up and had children of their own), but it did not.

    N.B. The Black Death does not get included in such discussions, because it is a bacterial illness and the body does not develop the same kind of stable immunity to bacteria as it does not viruses.

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  17. Did God give His word in the Bible to make it too complicated for children to understand? For the person not educated at the college or theological school level? When most people read they tend to turn the story, true or fiction, into some form of images in their mind. That would include the scene at the birth of Jesus. Are we to totally divorce our imagination that allows us to picture things while reading? I think God gave the ability to picture what we read as a gift to assist in understanding, as a tool to help in teaching, and as one way of being creative since we are made in His image. So it is with artists who portray a scene. As people progress in knowledge of God they may discover through saturation in the Word that God is much bigger than they have pictured Him. That is good. But to condemn people for being at a different point of understanding the theological fine points hinges on legalism. Love is the question here. Are people advancing in love as they discover more and more truth about Jesus?

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  18. Janice, I don’t think the article writer was “condemning” people, and certainly not condemning them for being at a different point of understanding. He was trying to teach and bring people to a new level of understanding. And obviously some will disagree with him, but that doesn’t make the points not worth making. You’re right that love and truth are both necessary, not just one or the other.

    Here’s another question: Was it acceptable to make images of God in the Old Testament? Would it have been OK to make a drawing or a statue of God? Because if it wasn’t OK, then it isn’t necessary. We have more understanding of God through Jesus than they had–so why do we need yet more? Why do we need more pictures than the ones God gave us (the sacraments)?

    BTW, it definitely is not legalism to say, “This is what the Word of God commands.” A person can question whether that command means what he says it means, but it isn’t legalism to say that if God forbids something, we must not do it.

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  19. I actually do not like many adult depictions of Christ, because they are too dogmatic about how he looked. I prefer ones like Rembrandt’s line engraving of the ‘Three Crosses’ which depict a definite human being, but leave the details to be filled in. Because of my knowledge of the general appearance of the typical Middle Eastern, I can predict that Jesus probably had brown eyes, a medium brown shade if skin, and thick curling black hair, and probably, a somewhat distinct and prominent nose shape. I dismiss the ones that depict him as a perfect specimen of male humanity, because Isaiah says of the suffering servant that there was no beauty that we should desire him. But the dogmatism I find uncomfortable in some representations of the adult Jesus is absent in depictions of the Nativity. A newborn baby’s features are full of potential, but do not predict with any certainty what the future adult will look like. At each week or month of development, a baby may switch back and forth between the relatives he or she resembles, and a child is about four or five before their face begins to assume a definite portrait of who they are, and even then, that portrait may change drastically with the coming of puberty.

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  20. Roscuro, whether or not early Christians did something is an interesting part of the discussion, but not an answer to whether or not it is the right thing to do. We have many stories in Scripture of false worship, some of it false worship done by priests and other spiritual leaders, and certainly by the lay people. So it doesn’t really answer the question of whether it is proper.

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  21. Cheryl, in making the argument that what was wrong in the Old Testament must be wrong now, you are reversing the argument you used in prior discussion about the use of musical instruments in worship. Then, when I pointed out that David had made musical instruments in the Temple worship, you said how the Old Testament believers constructed their worship service did not mean that believers in the New Testament should do so too. Now you are saying that because Old Testament believers could not use images of God in their worship, then New Testament believers should not only not worship images (which I would agree with), but also that they should not even make them as illustrations.

    While I certainly think it is wrong to pray to crucifixes and to images of the Virgin and Child – and that would agree with the commandment not to make images the object of one’s worship – I actually think there are Old Testament precedents for using images as illustration. Perhaps the greatest user of images was the prophet Ezekiel, who put on theatrical performances that modern day avant garde performance artists would have found completely radical. In some of Ezekiel’s performances, he does to the objects he uses what God says he will do to his rebellious people (Ezekiel 4,5). In other words, Ezekiel, while doing these performances, is an illustration of God in judgement. Yet, there is no blasphemy in the portrayal, because the viewers understand it is only an illustration, not an actual depiction. Jesus, as the Son of God, is an actual depiction of God, but the pictures and images made of him are only illustrations, made to depict the fact he was human and thus tangible.

    The recurring theme of Incarnate God as human is one that begins in the Old Testament, and Ezekiel, who, if the prophets got monikers, should be called The Illustrator, describes in detail what his vision of God looked like: “and upon the likeness of the throne, was the likeness as the appearance of a man upon it. And I saw as the colour of amber, as the appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of his loins even upward, and from the appearance of his loins even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about. As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the likeness of the glory of the Lord” (Ezekiel 1:26-28).
    I know what a man, amber, fire, and rainbow all looks like, so the effect of such a description is to produce a mental image combing all those elements, an effect that God, inspiring Ezekiel to write those words, must have known the readers would experience. The Westminster Confession of Protestants clearly goes beyond Scripture in forbidding even a mental image of God. As Ezekiel’s careful language “as it were the appearance”, “the appearance of the likeness” shows that he knew the limitations of the illustration he was relating. Using an illustration of the Incarnation should always acknowledge the limitations of it, but not even the Old Testament forbids the use of such illustration.

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  22. Cheryl, in the multitude of counsellors is safety, as the Proverb says, and the most trustworthy theology is that which is based on the agreement if the Church across the centuries. I want to know if something is a recent innovation in the Church, because I know that the Spirit of God is unchanging, so if there is a brand new kind of doctrine emerging that for centuries believers never held to, I regard that doctrine as suspicious. If a doctrine is correct, I should be able to find clear records of it being repeatedly approved throughout the centuries.

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  23. Meanwhile, homicides are way up in the city of LA, we had a couple shootings the other night in one of our rowdier homeless encampments in our community (victims survived). But there were 12 homicides in just the past week alone citywide. A source downtown told me it’s a ” **** show” out there right now.

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  24. Roscuro, I didn’t make the argument that if it was wrong in the Old Testament, it must be wrong now. I said that if images of God were not used in the Old Testament, then clearly they are not necessary for understanding. We aren’t, for example, keeping our children from a proper understanding of who Jesus is when we limit our teaching to words about Jesus and not images of Him. In fact, I personally think the flannelgraph Jesus-and-the-disciples Sunday school stuff I grew up with may have been a hindrance.

    Again, I’m not saying that everyone must agree with me here, but making a case for a position contrary to the one most American Christians take for granted, that images of Christ are not merely neutral, but actually positive. I know people who will only buy Christmas cards with manger scenes, seeing them as part of their witness. I was in a conversation last Christmas with someone who determined her new next-door neighbors must not be Christians, and part of her evidence was that their outdoor Christmas decorations didn’t include a manger scene. The case I am making is that for some of us, images of Christ are not positive, not even neutral, but negative. You pointed out that images of the adult Jesus can be problematic because they’re erroneous, and I’m adding that images of the child Jesus can be problematic because they’re overly sentimental and because they are still images of Jesus–which at least potentially breaks some of the Ten Commandments.

    I have seen images that are clearly “illustrations,” of the sort that show Jesus from the back, for instance, perhaps showing Him giving the sermon on the mount or carrying His cross. I don’t necessarily have a problem with those.

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  25. If you want to get technical about remembering Jesus’ birth, I don’t believe he was born in the winter since shepherds didn’t “watch their flocks by night” in the cold. He was more likely born in August or September, according to some things I’ve read (don’t have a link).

    Also, since only two of the Gospel writers tell the story, and John only makes a passing reference, why do we make a bigger deal of it than they did?

    That said, and as some else said, it’s a matter of conscience and not something to make a dogma out of. Celebrate as you see fit.

    Oh, and Cheryl, if your intent is not to “stir up controversy,” then why bring it up in the first place? You and I are probably the only ones here who do not put up nativity scenes. In fact, Mrs. L and I have never even had a tree. But we have no problem with our children and others we know decorating.

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  26. What is sentimental about babies? What is sentimental about the birth of a child? It is filled with agony and struggle, the pain if the mother, the watchful care of those assisting her, and the screams of the child as he or she emerges suggests it wasn’t a ln easy journey for the child either. The tenderness we feel in seeing a mother and child together is the tenderness of hope and joy, not the softness of sentimentality. Revelation depicts the heavenly view of the birth of Christ as being a scene of turmoil and deadly danger in a cosmic war. The actual events surrounding the birth make that clear: the threat of stoning if Mary, only stopped by the fact that Joseph in justice felt he could not publicly accuse her and the threat of divorce, only stopped by revelation in a dream; the threat of Herod’s maniacal obsession with power – an obsession so great it destroyed Herod’s own sons – only stopped by divine intervention in the dreams of the Magi and Joseph, and, even then the neighbourhood male children of the same age as Jesus were murdered; the appearance of the heavenly host to the shepherds, brings that inspire dread in humans and that generally only appear in times of judgement. It is not sentimental to remember the wonder of the hope and joy, mixed with fear and awe that surrounded Christ’s birth.

    I bought Christmas cards for my mother this year. I bought three different kinds, one that had a nativity scene merely in outline, like a cutout, the other two with images of candles and lanterns – the image of light is another visual illustration used in the Bible to refer to Christ. How far does the symbol need to be abstracted before it is acceptable? Does an illustration of Pentecost with tongues of fire over the heads of the disciples cross the line? How about about an illustration of a generic shepherd saving his lost sheep? Or the fish of early Christian art? Hebrews says the sacrifices of the Tabernacle and Temple were an illustration, and the image of a lamb sacrificed is a recurring one in Christian art, as it is in Scripture.

    As I have said before, this apparent obsession that American Christianity has with perceiving a manger scene as a positive is not something I have encountered, but then again, maybe it really is a uniquely American cultural phenomenon. The city hall of the city I live in always has a creche out for Christmas and a Christmas tree. Religious symbols at public places do not seem to be the lawsuit provoking material here that they are in the US. Perhaps the portrayal of the manger scene has become a symbol of religious freedom and defiance in the US due to the culture wars and that is why American Christians you encounter may be so aggressive about its use.

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  27. It looks like there is some interesting discussion here today, but I am jumping ahead to explain about the photo for those who didn’t see it on Facebook.

    You may remember that Jim (MakeItMan) works with wood. He is very talented. These are what he calls Comfort Birds. They are incredibly smooth, and meant to hold in one’s hand. I mentioned on here a while back that he offered to sell me one for much less than his usual selling price, because he wanted me to have one in honor of Hubby.

    The package finally arrived yesterday. I was quite surprised to see that there were two birds in the package. Jim included a note that said that a “kind soul” had thought that my bird needed a companion. Isn’t that so sweet?! I am so touched and grateful.

    (And if that kind soul is one of you here, I offer you my heartfelt thanks. God bless you!)

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  28. Here’s how Jim described the process to make them so smooth:

    “It takes about an hours worth of sanding, working through 100 grit, 120, 150, 220, 320, 400. Then about another 1/2 hour for several applications of wipe on finish, and a final buffing with some fine compound on a wheel.”

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  29. Peter, the spring theory of Jesus’s birth because of the shepherds has been somewhat debunked. Palestine doesn’t have the bitter winters of northern Europea and, the shepherds near Bethlehem are thought to have been those who tended the sacrificial flocks for the temple – one prophecy speaks of the Tower of the Flock (Micah 4:8) – which would be tended year round. The reason for the December 25th date is ready due, not to a substitution for a pagan holiday, but because Jesus was believed, for various reasons (Zechariah’s course of duty is one method) to have been conceived in the spring and nine months later would be December. As you say the time is not important, but a lot of the pagan holiday reworked theories of Christmas and Easter are actually originally postulated by those who were skeptical of Jesus’s birth and who sought to discredit Christians.

    As for the apparent insignificance of Christ’s birth in the grand scheme of things, I do not find that holds water on examination. Consider the number of Old Testament prophecies that were fulfilled by the events of his birth. Without looking, there is the Isaiah 7 about the virgin, the Isaiah 9 about the child being given, the Genesis 3 one about the seed of the woman (and that is one of the few prophecies that God spoke directly without the use of a human communicator), the Malachi one about Bethlehem being the location, the Jeremiah one about the Rachel mourning for her children, the combination of several prophecies about his obscurity in the fact he was a Nazarene, the prediction of both the Psalms and Isaiah that rulers would come to him bearing gifts. The nativity is referenced as an event if importance in the Epistles. Paul speaks of “when the fullness of time came, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law.” And then there is that vision in Revelation if the Woman, the Dragon, and the Child.

    After all, if we are going to base the importance of an event in Jesus’s life on how many times it was mentioned in the Gospels, then clearly the feeding if the five thousand is more important the raising of Lazarus from the dead, because all four Gospels mentioned the feeding if the five thousand and only John mentions Lazarus being raised from the dead, but I do not think that is the case.

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  30. I went over to the prayer thread to post this. But there is too much serious stuff (for which I prayed. But it is complicated to understand in some cases.)
    Anyhow, since we don’t have R&R on Monday. I will post my answer to prayer here.

    I passed my vision exam. I can drive a car, at least until June, then we will go through it again.
    But I am limited. No travel more than five miles from home, don’t exceed 45 mph. No night driving.
    I can handle that.
    When you get 90 years old, some trivial things become important.

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  31. I think we can have a discussion without it being heated or disagreeable. I’ve found some of this interesting — I am Reformed but tend to think some of the arguments against nativity scenes a tad dug-in for my tastes. I often put out a Nativity scene at Christmas — one is a hand-carved wooden variety where all the figures are faceless. Another is from Mexico so that has a different flavor altogether. I think the question comes down to how they’re viewed or treated — as an altar or object of prayer? (No, in our case here, I would guess.)

    But my own pastor has a fairly strong feeling about images and a number of people in my church circles do as well.

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  32. Is Christmas a holy day? No, unless it falls on a Sunday, of course.

    Interesting points here on both sides about the use of images, however. Thanks to both cheryl and roscuro.

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  33. Chas, good to hear about your license and your vision exam.

    Speaking of vision, the visibility of the Jupiter and Saturn conjunction will be nil here, due to opaque cloud cover. Too bad, I like an excuse to view the night sky. My cousin who rails against the paganism of things like Easter and Christmas once complained how our calendar was constructed around the sun and how pagan that was. I pointed him to Genesis 1:14, where God clearly names the purpose of the sun, moon and stars as being to mark the passage of time, to be signs, and to mark festivals. He never tried that argument again. What he forgot was what Romans 1 says, that although the creation was constructed to reveal God, humans turned their backs on that revelation and worshipped the creation instead. So the fact that pagans worshipped the sun, doesn’t mean the sun is evil, only that the humans who worship it are.

    Liked by 1 person

  34. DJ, I agree it doesn’t have to be heated. I have found the mental exercise of the debate a welcome relief from wondering what is going to happen at work in the next week. Some reading might find what I have written exhausting to read, but I really was just interested and curious – I used to take electives in school like Latin and Greek and history not because they were easier topics than what I was studying, but because they exercised a completely different area of my brain, giving me an outlet I badly needed. I learn while debating online (which gives one time and space to look things up that an in person debate doesn’t), it makes me take a second look at things I think I know to confirm if they are true or not.

    Now, as for Sunday being a holy day, I say it is not, and that Christ is our Sabbath, view, incidentally, that the early church writers also held. As I said the other day, the early church would have held considerable differences of opinion with the Protestant Reformers, and the idea of Sunday being a replacement for the Sabbath is a new innovation by the Reformers. In their debates with the Jews, early church writers like Justin Martyr and Augustine insisted the Sabbath as a day if the week was abolished and Christ was our Sabbath.

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  35. Peter, I don’t think that it is necessary to avoid any discussion in which people might hold different positions. If people discuss only issues on which they fully agree, first of all the scope of conversations will be very limited, and second no one is likely ever to learn anything new.

    I grew up thinking that Lutherans and Presbyterians weren’t really Christians. I have no idea whether anyone told me that, or whether I somehow just picked it up. But gradually I was exposed to the Reformed position on various issues and determined it’s truer to Scripture than what I had been taught. I don’t agree with lots of positions that I see people argue, but it’s interesting to see what people believe–and to hear why. And sometimes we change our positions on issues as we see the reasons for a different position. Hopefully that’s all the more true if we see there is biblical warrant for a different position and we can’t defend our own from Scripture–I’ve been there a few times!

    Liked by 3 people

  36. Anybody looking for the great conjunction tonight? Jupiter and Saturn should appear their closest this evening just after dark. Currently we have clear skies so I am hopeful to keep that another hour or two. Haven’t been able to see them creeping closer due to cloud cover the past month.

    Liked by 2 people

  37. I hauled the Christmas wreaths out of the garage and they’re hanging on the door & the front porch railing; still waiting for batteries from Amazon so I can get the light strings turned on, those should arrive tomorrow.

    I used all the double aa batteries I had left earlier today when I filled all the indoor candle sticks which had been out of power for a few months. I usually only keep those “live” through the fall/winter/early spring months then don’t bother with them through the summer.

    This is as late as I’ve decorated, I think — just 4 days before Christmas? Wow.

    Well, I’ll feel better with some Christmas wreaths, bells and lights out for a little while, I’ll leave them up through New Year’s.

    I’m debating whether to email my physical therapist, I’m still having problems with that left leg following the pulled quad muscle episode about a month ago now. It’s better, but the leg just feels so stiff and I’m not sure what I should or shouldn’t be doing at this point. Seems like it was just a real setback. Maybe I’ll need that MRI after all, but I was going to push it off until after the holidays at least.

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  38. We saw the night sky event. Several people were out by the middle school where enough tree were. Learned to be able to view it. We saw telescopes set up for viewing. A nice early Christmas present for some maybe. We had binoculars which worked well. I was glad that Art was excited to go out and see it. Now we have seen Haley’s comet on our First Anniversary, then the eclipse of the sun, and now this. Beautiful world God created.

    Liked by 3 people

  39. To go along with what Cheryl said, there is a difference between trying to stir up controversy and sharing what may be an unpopular view for consideration.

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  40. Nightingale was asked to take today off, so she chose to make it a vacation day. Tomorrow is a usual day off. She is spending today and tomorrow baking a whole bunch of delicious Christmas cookies. At least three kinds are ones that my mom used to make each year. Although, interestingly, Nightingale didn’t remember that Mom had made them, because I think Mom stopped making all the different kinds as she got older.

    Liked by 2 people

  41. We got to see them but no time to set up the telescopes Between rain earlier and small children….but could use the birding monoscope and the spotting scope. So that was fun. Beautiful! God continues to amaze.

    Liked by 1 person

  42. My newsletter is approved! Now to send it out. It is very simple. I got an answer to an email last night from someone in Ukarumpa who graciously checked her work email and responded even while on vacation in a different location. She said it is all taken care of and there is nothing for me to do. What a relief.

    Liked by 2 people

  43. I currently have 4 nativity sets out in my house. One is one I bought for Little Miss.
    I did not set up the larger “collectible” one.
    Perhaps they were first used to tell the story
    For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son….

    I don’t know and it isn’t important to me. If you like them put them out and if you don’t then don’t.
    My inclination is to respect the early church. Quite frankly I think the Orthodox Church may be closest to the early church but it isn’t something that would cause me to convert.

    In other news I survived the day.
    Goodnight.

    Liked by 3 people

  44. aargh…. one of my email groups is not working. I think there is an address in there that is not working. If any of you are on my list and have not received the email. Please let me know if your email address has changed. This is frustrating.
    Time to have my late dinner. It needed to cook for several hours.
    In other news. little Lucy was terrible today. I just waited her out and told her that I wasn’t her servant. Eventually she did what I asked.

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  45. Chatted with a friend tonight — he was saying how hard it is for them, a large Italian family that used to get 60-70 folks for their holiday celebrations, to cull down to 10 or so due to the coronavirus.

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  46. The plan is to take both my computers into the local computer place for them to take everything off this computer and set up the new one. So I am trying to get things done first. My daughter is gifting me with this service. She knew I was not getting my new one set up. But you have to leave both computers for a day or two. So glad that the newsletter is done. hope they change all of my contacts over, too.

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