All posts filed under: Christmas

10-year-old autistic girl sings Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ with a Christmas twist

A 10-year-old autistic girl from Northern Ireland is wowing social media with her Youtube version of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” Leonard Cohen, a Canadian song writer and singer, died on November 7, 2016 at age 82. Kayleigh Rogers attends Killard House school in Donaghadee, Northern Ireland. The school has 200 students from ages three to 16. In the song, that has since gone viral on Facebook with over 1 million views, Kayleigh leads the school’s choir in a moving rendition of the international hit. Since it was part of the Killard House’s Christmas program, the school changed the words to tell the story of Jesus’ birth. Kayleigh started school at age 7 and not only struggles with autism but ADHD as well. Though of moderate severity, they have resulted in “learning delays” for Kayleigh. In an interview with BBC, the school’s principal Colin Miller said Kaylee is normally a very shy girl, but when she begins to sing, she shines. Miller told Belfast Live: “She may only be a child but she has an amazing tone …

Church of Nativity, Bethlehem Credit: Jordan Pickett/Flickr/Creative Commons

A 360 virtual tour of the birth place of Jesus

For those who have never visited Israel, in the video above film director Pearry Teo provides a 360 degree virtual tour of what is believed to be the birthplace of Jesus. Just move your mouse over the video for a full panoramic view. Our tour guide is Danny Herman. Located in Bethlehem which today is part of Palestine, the Church of the Nativity covers the opening to a cave or Grotto, where you walk down stair to view where it is traditionally believed Jesus was born. On the floor, you can see the spot where Mary gave birth to Jesus. A ‘silver star’ marks where the manger sat — installed in 1717, for good reason some question if this is the exact spot. They even note where the Magi stood when they came to worship the Christ. We can’t be absolutely sure the cave is the location where Jesus was born. The original version of the chapel claiming this as the place was built by Constantine in 333 AD — at the insistence of his …

The Singing Contractors: Facebook

‘The Singing Contractors’ unexpected climb to fame

Two general contractors working in and around Indianapolis, Indiana have taken social media by storm, not by displaying teaching videos on contracting techniques, but by singing. Aaron Gray, 39 and Josh Arnett, 40, have been friends since childhood. Today, they work as contractors — pounding a hammer. Living about an hour apart outside Indianapolis, they often work together on projects. Initially they started out singing together while they worked, but at one point they decided to record the songs on their phones. All their songs are ‘a cappella’ but often have a cathedral type sound as they sing in empty homes. Both Arnett and Gray come from Christian homes, but neither of them had sang professionally. The turning point came last year when pastor Paul Biggar joined them in singing “How Great Thou Art.” They sang it in three-part harmony in the basement of a home they were working on. They shared it on Facebook and within a few weeks the video was viewed 19 million times. Because of their almost instantaneous climb to fame, …

A wintry day in Sheffield, England. Credit: Wojtek Gurak/Flickr/Creative Commons

Forgiving a Christmas Eve murder

It was December 24, 2012, and organist Alan Greaves, 68, was walking to Christmas Eve midnight mass at St. Saviour’s Anglican church in Sheffield, England where he was scheduled to play. On his 10-minute journey, he ran in to two men — Jonathan Bowling, 22, and Ashley Foster, 22.  Both had left a Christmas gathering earlier that evening in a foul mood. According to court records, the two men were looking for trouble and saw Greaves as easy pickings. They attacked Greaves with a pick ax handle and hammer and he would later die in hospital from his injuries. But in a powerful testimony, Alan’s wife Maureen Greaves, 63, shared in an interview with the English newspaper, The Guardian, of her journey to forgiving the two men who murdered her husband in the unprovoked attack. Maureen, 63, currently serves as a lay minister with the Anglican church working with a group called the Church Army. Married for forty years, she and her husband have four children, two sons and two daughters. She recounted the night …

Credit: Scott Fiddelke/Flickr/Creative Commons

What should we tell our kids about Santa?

My son was about five or six years old when he motioned for me to come to our front window. It was December and our front yard was blanketed with a fresh layer of snow. We lived on the edge of the city and wild life made regular forays into our front yard. As I went to the window I saw a trail of rabbit tracks wandering through the snow. My son then explained those were the tracks of Santa’s reindeer. He must have been in our yard the night before. My wife and I had decided to tell our children that Santa was not real, with the proviso that they were not to say anything about it to the other kids. But my son saw Santa in the malls and on TV. At his Christian pre-school, many of the kids were talking about Santa and my son wanted to believe in Santa as well and now he was trying to convince me those tracks were evidence Santa existed. I told him that those were …

Credit: rpphotos/Flickr/Creative Commons

Liberty Counsel’s ‘Naughty’ or ‘Nice’ list

We are all readying ourselves for the hectic Christmas season. One of things we do is buy gifts for family and friends — a tradition handed down through the centuries from the gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh the magi gave Jesus shortly after the Lord’s birth (Matthew 2:11-12). Christmas is retailers biggest sales quarter with many selling as much merchandise in this period as they did the rest of the year. Just before Christmas, US-based Liberty Counsel publishes its ‘Naughty or Nice List”, that they have put out annually since 2002. The list is in response to the politically-correct climate that in recent years has tried to pressure companies and governments to remove any religious references in their Christmas messaging. Though Christmas Day is undoubtedly not Jesus’ true birthday, nevertheless the fact December 25 rose to prominence as a Christian religious holiday is undisputed. To determine a company’s response to Christmas, Liberty analyses how many times they use the word ‘Christmas’ on their advertising, merchandise descriptions and website compared to the politically-correct term ‘holiday.’  …

Christmas is illegal in Brunei Photo Brunei water village/jkuba

Christmas is Cancelled, and Illegal

Did you know Christmas is illegal in Saudi Arabia? Celebrating Christmas there can get you ten years in jail. The country is the home of Mecca, the holy city at the center of Islam. It is also one of the wealthiest nations in the world, with massive oil and gas deposits. Many foreigners work there, including thousands of committed Christians, and the economy needs them. During the first gulf war, American troops defended the Saudis against Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi army, and Christian chaplains led worship services. I think that was the first time that Christians worshiped legally and openly in Saudi Arabia. There are no reports of Jewish, Buddhist, or Hindu services. And now Christmas is illegal, and severely punished. The tiny country of Brunei on the island of Borneo is more lenient. Celebrating Christmas will only get you five years. Brunei has a population of less than half a million, and more than 30% of them are non-Muslim, but Muslim Sharia law has been imposed on everyone and it’s now illegal to wear a …

Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Phillip Photo: Ben Murray/Flickr/Creative Commons

This year’s Christmas message will be Queen Elizabeth’s clearest expression of faith

For nearly every year since 1932, England’s Royalty has broadcast a Christmas message across Britain on BBC, the government-run TV station. The only year it didn’t happen was in 1969 when BBC instead aired a documentary on England’s royalty This year, Queen Elizabeth, 89, will be making her annual broadcast which according to an article in The Express will be the clearest expression of her Christian faith since she became Queen in 1952. In recent years, the Queen has become increasingly vocal about her faith. The broadcast to be aired on Christmas day is expected to attract millions of viewers. Last year 7.8 million people watched the Queen’s message. The Queen will backdrop her faith declaration with the “unprecedented” rising persecution of Christians around the world particularly by Muslim extremists in the Middle East where ISIS has targeted believers. According to The Express, a source within Buckingham Palace said “she [the Queen] is driven by a deep and spirited faith.” Though to a lesser degree, the Queen has also felt first-hand the threat of Muslim Jihad. In September, the British …

“I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning." Jesus (Luke 10:18) Photo: Matt/Flickr/Creative Commons

The real story behind the first Christmas

Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright… When Franz Xaver Gruber and Joseph Mohr of Austria penned the famous Christmas carol Silent Night in 1818, they painted a calm, idyllic image of Christmas. It along with many Christmas carols portrayed the birth of Jesus as we see it in Luke 2:1-20 and Matthew 1:18-2:23 — Shepherds in the field, Angels singing, a baby in swaddling clothes,  a manger, bleating sheep and lowing oxen. Peaceful, serene… yet is this what really happened at the birth of Jesus? There is a third version of the Christmas story, found in the Book of Revelation, that isn’t often read this time of year: The Woman, Israel 12 A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; 2 and she was with child; and she *cried out, being in labor and in pain to give birth. The Red Dragon, Satan 3 Then another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red …

Meeting Jesus at Chicago O'Hare Airport Photo: Ronald Woan/Flickr

A Christmas Story

We had just arrived in Chicago, on our way home. Carol’s wheelchair attendant was, as promised, waiting at the cabin door for her. He was a cheerful fellow, with a cheerful smile and a cheerful demeanor as he very cheerfully asked me to take the wheelchair. I understood – his tablet read my name, not Carol’s. “No,” I said. “It’s for my wife.” That’s when he saw her and could clearly see she had the greater need. “No problem,” he said. “Can you make it to the top of the ramp?” Being satisfied I was taken care of, he pushed Carol to the top while I hobbled with my cane behind, already exhausted. At the top, he said “Sir, you must let me take you as well. Your next flight is just too far away. I’ll get another chair.” Gratefully, I accepted. When he got back, it quickly became obvious he didn’t misspeak when he said he would take me and Carol as well. With one hand on Carol’s chair and the other on mine, …

Jesus a Palestinian?

[by Dean Smith] Just before Christmas, the Palestinian Authority rewrote history. It has become a bit of an annual event in Palestine. Over the past few years, a few days before December 25th, the Palestinians roll out a number of officials who make statements claiming Jesus was a Palestinian. This year was no different. According to the Wafa News Agency on December 22, 2014, Palestinian Leader Mahmoud Abbas said: “We celebrate the birth of Jesus, a Palestinian messenger of love, justice and peace.”

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from Nehemiah the Jew

[by Sandy McIntosh] Nehemiah is a leading character in the Old Testament, or Hebrew Bible, and an important character in Jewish history. He lived long before Jesus, and his calendar did not start with a new year on January 1. It didn’t even have a January. For sure he never specifically wished anyone a Merry Christmas or a Happy New Year at the end of December. Or did he? If we can get past the superficial materialism and drunken partying, there is wisdom from God for this time of new beginnings in December, and Nehemiah was a great teacher on that subject.

Christmas display in Rome. Photo: Lorenzoclick/Flicrk/Creative Commons

Why December 25th was chosen as Christ’s birthday

There is much debate on why December 25th was chosen as the day Jesus was born. There is little Biblical evidence that reveals the date of Jesus’ birth. Luke 2:8 refers to shepherds in the fields suggesting Jesus’ birth took place in the spring when shepherds were with their flocks during lambing. Maybe not coincidentally, John refers to Jesus as the Lamb of God (John 1:29). Clement of Alexandria (150 AD – 215 AD), an Egyptian Christian teacher, had cited May 20th and April 20th or 21st as possible dates of Christ’s birth fitting the spring theory. By 400 AD, December 25th along with January 6th were considered the dates for Christ’s birth. December 25th was the leading contender and eventual winner. The December date was listed as Jesus’ birth on an ancient Roman almanac from the 4th century that listed the death dates of early Christian martyrs. The most popular reason given as to why December 25th was chosen is because the church was Christianizing the pagan celebration of Sol Inviticus — a sun-god — that …

30% of English kids don’t know Christmas is about the birth of Jesus

A survey of 2,000 families commissioned by the English organization Christmas Starts with Christ found over 30% of the children (aged 10 to 13) did not know Christmas was associated with the birth of Christ and 51% of adults do not believe Jesus is important to Christmas. The organization blamed the political correctness creeping into English schools for much of this lack of awareness. This includes removing mentions of Christ from Christmas so not to offend and no longer displaying nativity scenes or if they do including everything from Elvis to Aliens in the scene.

According to Google, Ouija boards will be a popular gift this Christmas?

[by Dean Smith] Google, the web’s largest internet search engine, is predicting Ouija boards will be a popular item this Christmas. Google is basing its prediction on search engine data requests. The number of search requests for Ouija or spiritual boards in November 2014 had increased by 300% since October leading Google to state in its commerce blog that the Ouija board will be “one of the hottest gifts likely to sell out this season.” It attributed the Ouija board’s renewed interest to the horror movie “Ouija” released in October. The Ouija board was the fifth most searched Christmas item behind American Girl, My Little Pony, Paw Patrol and Lego Friends. The Ouija board, invented in 1890, has letters and numbers imprinted on a board. It also comes with a pointing device (often heart-shaped) on which people place their hand. The participant asks a question and a spirit will answer the question by guiding the person’s hand to the letters on the board. The communicating spirits are generally believed to be those of dead people, …

“Little Drummer Boy” as it should be played — on a drum

In 2011, 16 year-old Winnipeg high school student Sean Quigley produced this unique arrangement of the traditional Christmas carol Little Drummer Boy. Sean not only sang, but he also played all the instruments, directed and edited the video. Winnipeg is located in the province of Manitoba in Canada. The YouTube video went viral and now has over 2.8 million views. The Winnipeg Free Press did an interview with Sean, then 18, in December 2013.  A lot has changed and not much has changed. What hasn’t changed is Sean still wears shorts in the middle of winter. Sean said he only owns one pair of long pants. What has changed is that He graduated from High School and started his own band  — Bold as Lions. The name comes from Proverbs 28:1: The wicked flee when no one is pursuing, But the righteous are bold as a lion. (NASV) Sean is also engaged to fellow band member Karli Gerbrandt. In the interview, Sean spoke of his faith: We want to be a light in the darkness in the music …