All posts filed under: Christmas

Who was the first person to recognize Jesus as the Jewish Messiah?

Have you ever wondered who was the first person to understand that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah? Well, as Ben Witherington explains in his article for Biblical Archaeology, it probably wasn’t Mary, the Lord’s mother. When the angel told her that she was to bear the Messiah, Luke writes that Mary was perplexed (Luke 1:29) and when the shepherds visited after being told of Christ’s birth, we are told that Mary pondered these events (Luke 2:19). Pondered means she was literally still trying to put things together. In fact, at one point Mary joined with her family when they wanted to put Christ away, thinking He was mad (Mark 3:21, 31). Witherington argues that the first person to understand that Jesus was the Messiah, was most likely Simeon an old man who was told by the Holy Spirit that he would see the Messiah before he died (Luke 2:26). Moved by the spirit, Simeon was told to go to the temple on the same day, that Mary and Joseph took Christ to the temple to …

Credit: 19melissa68/Flickr/Creative Commons

How a Christmas Shoebox turned into a marriage proposal 14 years later

When Tyrel Wolfe, 7, sent a Christmas shoebox to an unknown person in the Philippines, he had no idea that 14 years later, he would end up marrying the girl who received it God Reports writes. When he prepared his shoebox in 2000 at church as part of Samaritan’s Purse’s Operation Christmas Child, Tyrel included a photo of him dressed in cowboy gear, and his address. After Joana Marchan received the gift she sent a letter to Tyrel, but it was never delivered. But in 2011, Joana remembered his name and found a person with the same name on Facebook and sent a friend request. It ended up being the same Tyrel, but because he had no idea who she was he refused the request. But a couple of years later, Joana sent another request, but this time Tyrel, who was still in high school, sent a message asking how she knew him. Over the next couple of years, they continued to share messages and found out they were also both Christians. In fact, Joana …

Has the tomb of Mary’s midwife, Salome, been discovered?

According to the Daily Mail, archaeologists working with Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) claim to have uncovered the tomb of Salome, who is reportedly the midwife who attended to Mary when she gave birth to Christ. Of course, if you are a reader of the Gospels, you are probably thinking where in the New Testament does it mention that Mary had a midwife named Salome? Well, there is none. In fact, the only mention of Mary’s midwife is found in the Gospel of James, an apocryphal book dated to the second or third century. It tells the story of Mary, her childhood, her marriage to Joseph and the birth of Jesus with the assistance of Salome. It is said to have been written by James, the brother of Christ. But adds the stickler, James was the son of Joseph from a previous marriage. Some have even tried to connect this midwife to the Salome mentioned in the Gospels, who was the wife of Zebedee and mother of James and John (Matthew 27:56). She was also listed …

Were the Magi, God’s plunder of hell?

In his record of Jesus’ birth, Matthew reports that magi from the East came to Jerusalem looking for the newborn king, because they had seen His star. Bible versions have translated the Greek word, magos, used in this verse in different ways. Most translate it as ‘wise men’. The Message translates it as scholars. J.B. Philips translates the word as astrologers. The New American Standard Version uses Magi, with this footnote, “A caste of educated men specializing in astronomy, astrology, and natural science.” They were an interesting group and Wikipedia provides this definition of the magi: Magi (/ˈmeɪdʒaɪ/; singular magus/ˈmeɪɡəs/; from Latinmagus) were priests in Zoroastrianism and the earlier religions of the western Iranians. The earliest known use of the word magi is in the trilingual inscription written by Darius the Great, known as the Behistun Inscription. Old Persian texts, predating the Hellenistic period, refer to a magus as a Zurvanic, and presumably Zoroastrian, priest. Thayer’s Greek dictionary adds that they were also influential advisors to the Kings of Babylon and Persia: 1a) the name …

Town restores nativity scene after complaints

After Bucksport council, a small town in Maine, caved to potential threats from Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) and removed a nativity scene on town property, the citizens expressed their outrage at the decision, Fox News reports. FFRF had demanded that the town install one of its signs beside the nativity scene that spoke of the winter solstice and the Bill of Rights or remove the Nativity scene altogether. Over fears of a potential lawsuit, the town, on advice of legal counsel, decided on the latter course of action and took down the scene. Over a dozen of people showed up at the next council meeting and demanded the nativity scene be restored. One citizen described it as just another form of ‘cancel culture.’ Others demanded the city stand up for Freedom of Speech. “The First Amendment [protects] freedom of religion, not freedom from religion,” town resident, Bob Mercer said. Several cited Supreme Court Cases that stated that governments were allowed to set up religious displays on government-owned property. “It’s time for [the] silent majority …

Human Rights commissioner resigns after allegedly posting her hatred of Christians on social media because of a Christmas tree controversy

Diane Loud, a member of the Human Rights Commission in Dedham, Massachusetts, recently resigned after publicly mocking God and condemning Christians, CBN reports. The problem started when the manager of Endicott Branch Library in Dedham, Lisa Desmond, was told that she would not be allowed to put up a Christmas tree at the library this year. When she asked why, Desmond was told that it had apparently resulted in complaints in previous years. The claim that the annual Christmas tree display had caused offense puzzled Desmond and on December 2, 2022, she commented on Facebook that over the previous 28 years that she had not heard of one complaint about the tree display at the library. According to Faithwire, the resulting pushback caused by Desmond’s comment allegedly resulted in a profanity-laden response from Loud on social media, where she mocked God, calling him a ‘magic sky daddy.’ I hope [you know] the fact that you – who claim to believe in Christ and Christmas or whatever happy horses— you’re trying to hide behind – are the …

Have a ‘Merry Winter Closure Period’

Maybe it is jut me, but our schools of higher learning seem to be getting dumber every day. According to an article in the Daily Mail, the University of Brighton, based in Brighton England, recently sent out a nine-page memo to its staff telling them what words they can and cannot use. It was referred to as an inclusive language document. Top of the list was their instruction not to say Christmas this season, because it is too ‘Christian-centric, instead, they were told to use the phrase ‘Winter closure period.’ So instead of saying Merry Christmas, the staff are apparently urged to say have a “Merry Winter Closure Period”. Brighton insists this is just guidance for its employees, as it hasn’t officially banned the word Christmas on its campuses Well, I have news for the University of Brighton, Christmas is a Christian celebration, and unless it’s also planning to change the name of Ramadam because it is too Muslim-centric, then this is just another example of anti-Christian bigotry and exclusion. READ: Brighton University urges staff …

Joseph beheaded in a violent attack on a church’s nativity scene

The nativity scene at a church in Ipswich, England has been vandalized just four days after it had been set up at the 13th century All Saints Church. The display was torn apart with the life-size figurines scattered around the site. Many of the figurines were damaged and will require a significant amount of repair to make them suitable for display. The model of Joseph had also been decapitated. “Why would someone have so much hatred and desire to ruin and destroy something that is not their property, and something that is there to express someone’s belief?,” The Rev Danny Morrison who serves as the church’s vicar told the Daily Mail. “What state might their life be like if they find pleasure in doing this? I am trying to make sense which I really can’t.” The church has been putting up the Nativity scene for the past five years. It has a message beneath it that reads, “Jesus came to save us all.” Unfortunately, the nativity was also vandalized several times in 2018, the first …

The real Saint Nicholas

While our modern Santa Claus has taken on god-like qualities in our modern culture, the story of jolly ole Saint Nick finds its roots in a real man, Saint Nicholas, who served as the Bishop of Myra located in modern Turkey. The city of Myra, located on the Mediterranean, is briefly mentioned in Acts 27:5, as Paul, now a prisoner, was being transported to Rome by a centurion According to ancient tradition, Nicholas (270 AD – Dec 6, 343 AD) was born in the city of Patara, also located on the Mediterranean Sea. It was a city, that the Apostle Paul visited while on his journey to Jerusalem (Acts 21:1-2). Nicholas came from a very wealthy Christian family and for the first half of his life, he lived during some of the most horrific times of Roman persecution, under the emperor Diocletian (284 – 305). During this period, Roman soldiers were going door to door searching for copies of scripture. It was this persecution that spurred the early believers to canonize the Bible, as they …

Tim Allen says his new Santa series will emphasize a religious aspect of Christmas

In a recent interview with The Wrap, Hollywood actor Tim Allen, 69, who will be starring in Disney Plus’s The Santa Clauses, says the six-part series will be focusing on the religious aspects of Christmas. Allen stated the original script was emphasizing otherworldly things such as ghosts and goblins, but after Allen’s insistence has since decided it will focus on the real St. Nicholas, who was the historic figure on which modern Santa Claus is based. “I said no, this is Christ-mas. It’s Christ-mas. It literally is a religious holiday,” Allen said in the interview. “We don’t have to blow trumpets, but I do want you to acknowledge it. That’s what this is about. If you want to get into Santa Claus, you’re gonna have to go back to history, and it’s all about religion.” That part of the story will not be developed until the final two shows of the series. St Nicholas was the Bishop of Myra (270 AD to 340 AD), who became famous for the miracles attributed to his prayers and …

Ukrainians urged to celebrate Christmas on Dec 25

We are living in interesting times, and it may even impact when members of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine celebrate Christmas, Premier Christian News reports. During a church synod held in October, the leaders of Ukraine’s Orthodox Church encouraged its members to celebrate Christmas on December 25 this year, instead of January 7th as it has traditionally done. The group has approximately 7,000 churches in Ukraine. For centuries, Ukraine’s orthodox church was under the auspices of the Russian Orthodox Church. However, in 2019 it broke free from the Russian Orthodox Church due largely to Russia’s seizure of Crimea in 2014. The differences between the two groups have only grown since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine earlier this year. In September, the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, likened Russia’s invasion to a Holy War and said any Russian soldiers killed in Ukraine would be absolved of their sin. In an interview with Premier Christian News, Christian historian Martyn Whittock explained the decision to move the celebration of Christ’s birth to Dec 25: “Orthodox believers …

Have researchers discovered the tomb of St. Nicholas?

According to a Turkish news site, Demirören News Agency, researchers may have discovered the tomb of St. Nicholas, the Bishop of Myra while excavating the ruins of a third and fourth century church in Demure, Turkey, Breitbart reports. St. Nicholas, as his name suggests, is the man who inspired our modern Santa Claus. He was the Bishop of Myra prior to his death on December 6, 343 AD. The tomb is probably empty as the bones of St Nicholas were apparently transported to Bari, Italy in 1087 AD, and are now on display at the Basilica di San Nicola. Other bone fragments may have also ended up San Nicolò al Lido in Venice. Nevertheless, researchers believe the newly discovered basilica may still contain other relics associated with the infamous Bishop. Though little is known about St. Nickolas’ life, historical documents reveal that 250 years after his death people were making pilgrimages to his tomb in Bari revealing his growing fame. So how did his life pave the way for our modern Santa Claus? Breitbart provides …

Cofounder of South African Satanic Church turns to Christ after experiencing God’s love

One of the co-founders of the South African Satanic Church (SASC), Riaan Swiegelaar, has renounced his involvement in Satanism and become a Christian, CBN reports. Swiegelaar made the announcement in a video posted on Facebook on July 4, 2022, after several people asked why he had left Satanism. Swiegelaar said: “I’m doing this live video because many, more than 100 people, on WhatsApp and almost 200 on Facebook, are sending me messages wanting to know why did I leave the South African Satanic Church as well as why did I turn my back on Satanism.” Swiegelaar, who was involved in Christian ministry decades earlier, had left the ministry, become an atheist and later found himself drawn to Satanism. In his video, which has been viewed over 212,000 times, Swiegelaar explained what happened: “I got involved with Satanism because at the time it resonated with me, being very broken and sad without realizing it. I think the reason a lot of people resonate with Satanism is they come from a very broken place. I have met …

Hundreds lift their cellphones, signifying they received Christ during church’s Christmas programs

There were shocking responses to invitations to receive Christ during Champion Forest Baptist Church’s Christmas services this year. The Baptist Press reports that for five days, Dec 8 – Dec 12, 2021, the Houston church held its Christmas program, with one nightly from Wednesday through Friday and two on Saturday and also Sunday. It’s estimated that 30,000 people attended services during the five-day event. At the end of each program, the church’s senior pastor, Jarrett Stephens, gave a Gospel presentation, after which he invited those who believed in Jesus for their salvation to turn on their cell phones’ flashlight in the darkened auditorium. Everyone, including the congregation, was stunned by the responses as dozens of people held their cellphones high in the air at the end of each service, flooding the auditorium with light. Photographs taken over the five-day event revealed that 1,114 people had made a decision to believe in Jesus. Calling the response unprecedented, Stephens told the Baptist Press: “God is moving, and to Him be the glory. It is all about Him. …

Comparing the deaths of North Korea’s Kim Jong-il & King Herod

North Korea’s delusional, communist dictator, Kim Jong-un, has ordered citizens not to laugh or drink alcohol for 11 days to mourn the death of Jong-un’s equally delusional father, Kim Jong-il, who was president of North Korea from 1994 to 2011. Radio Free Asia reports that this period of mourning is intended to mark the tenth anniversary of Kim Jong-il’s death, who died of a heart attack on Dec. 17, 2011, at the age of 69. One North Korean told Radio Free Asia: “During the mourning period, we must not drink alcohol, laugh or engage in leisure activities.“ “In the past many people who were caught drinking or being intoxicated during the mourning period were arrested and treated as ideological criminals. They were taken away and never seen again.  “Even if your family member dies during the mourning period, you are not allowed to cry out loud and the body must be taken out after it’s over. People cannot even celebrate their own birthdays if they fall within the mourning period.’”   READ: North Koreans forced to …

Find someone who thinks differently than you, and demand an explanation!

We can’t blame a virus for our behaviour, but my impression is that our global health crisis has generated a lot of arrogance. COVID taught us some things that are not good. We are getting skilled at dividing and rejecting. Have you noticed that some people are correct and approved, and others rejected because they don’t think like the official majority? I have read news articles about ‘those people’ who are usually on the wrong side of an argument, like vaccination or some political division. The official position seems to be, if we find someone who thinks differently, we demand an explanation. We want to know how they could be so wrong when we told them how to think. Division and rejection seem to be our new path to the truth. If you don’t agree with me, don’t lose your temper. That would just prove my point. We should all know, that a disagreement about an idea can easily become a rejection of people. READ: Mass protests and mayhem continue into a sixth night; thousands …

Was Jesus born in a cave?

Many might be surprised by the notion that Jesus was born in a cave, but essentially that is the claim being made by the Church of the Nativity, located in Bethlehem, that is built over the site of where it believes Mary gave birth to Jesus. The Lord’s actual birthplace was in a cave located below the church’s main altar, that can be accessed by two staircases on either side. In fact, the grotto where it claims Jesus was born is part of a larger network of caves that can be accessed from neighbouring buildings, but is now blocked by gates. But not everyone agrees that Christ was born in a cave. One common argument against it, is that Luke, who provided the most extensive narrative of the events surrounding Christ’s birth (Luke 2:1-21), does not mention a cave. Why didn’t he do this? It’s argued that Luke would have mentioned the cave if it was unusual. What was unusual to Luke, is that because there was no room in the inn, Joseph and Mary …

Seven modern misconceptions about the original Christmas story

When we listen to Christmas carols and read our Christmas cards, we sometimes get the wrong impression about what really took place on the day Jesus was born. The following are seven modern misconceptions about the events surrounding the birth of Christ. None of these take away from the miracle that took place that day. 1. Jesus was not born on December 25th Look there is nothing wrong with celebrating the birth of Christ on December 25. As we read the Biblical account, the Lord’s birth was obviously a significant event and was very much celebrated. But it did not take place on December 25th. The fact that shepherds were in their fields when Jesus was born, suggests that Christ was probably born during spring lambing. So how did we end up with Dec. 25? Well, that was the result of the compounding of an earlier mistake. One of the first festivals initiated by the Roman Catholic Church was the Assumption of Mary, that celebrated her conception by the Holy Spirit. They set that date …

Did Balaam prophesy about the Star of Bethlehem?

Balaam was an interesting Old Testament character. He was some type of diviner, perhaps soothsayer or sorcerer, whom King Balak of Moab hired to curse Israel before an upcoming battle. During the several prophecies that Balaam delivered, there was one that many believe referred to the star that showed up announcing Christ’s birth. Now obviously Balaam had a reputation as a seer, for Balak to be willing to purchase his services. And Balaam’s international fame was confirmed by Dutch archaeologists who found a text written about Balaam on a plastered wall dated to around 1200 BC in the ancient town of Deir Alla located in Jordan. The text was actually written by the Canaanites and spoke Balaam, son of Beor three times in the first four lines, exactly as the Bible describes him (Numbers 22:5). In this inscription, Balaam is referred to as a seer of the gods indicating he was well known and revered among the gentiles. The text also provides several of Balaam’s curses that suggests this was his specialty and apparently, these …

Have a Glutton Free Christmas

What if Christmas wasn’t just an excuse for gluttony? In Canada and the United States, we celebrate through over-indulgence. Anniversaries, weddings, holidays, and birthdays are celebrated with cakes, suppers, alcohol, gifts, and parties. I love to celebrate so this is not an attack on celebrations. But I wonder what it would be like if we celebrated differently. What if instead of feasting and self-absorption we lowered our party expectations and dimmed the noise just enough to hear and see something different this Christmas? This year, many of us are forced to celebrate at a different pace than in previous years. There are few office or work parties. Personally, we are not allowed to have our wonderfully large North Central Lighthouse Christmas lunch and giveaway this year. Things are very different. For many, this is depressing and has dampened their Christmas spirit. I understand this. I miss our Lighthouse Christmas gathering and the Christmas teas and other events of the season. But they are not the cake of Christmas. They are just the icing on the …

BLM protestors disrupt Christmas cancer fundraiser

According to reports, members of Black Lives Matter in Milwaukee, Wisconsin decided to protest a Christmas fundraising event that raises money for a local cancer center. It is uncertain why the group known as The People’s Revolution (TPR) chose to demonstrate at an event largely attended by families with children. Even people who typically support BLM are calling it a “trash move.”

Modern Shepherds

Christmas is that bizarre time of the year when people who don’t have anything to do with Jesus suddenly start praising His name. Celebrity singers whose lifestyle and beliefs do not include any room for Jesus have wonderfully sincere sounding songs about the birth of Christ. I am not going to name who these are, but think about how they are, and the irony becomes clear. Singers who support things opposed to the word of God are calling us to come and worship baby Jesus. Maybe they find the baby less threatening than the grown-up Jesus, who confronted evil and certainly condemned much of what modern culture calls good.  No room in their hearts for Jesus, they relegate him to the back rooms of their lives, setting him up in the stables around back. Maybe someone needs to tell them that Jesus never stayed in the stable for long. That sweet baby in the feeding trough is God in the flesh with a purpose to bring peace and salvation through an intimate relationship with Him. …

The Vatican’s nightmare before Christmas

Roman Catholics around the world are outraged by the Nativity scene set up at the Vatican this year with people describing it as hideous, cold, satanic, disgusting, disturbing, demonic, repulsive, gross, creepy, sickening, disgraceful, a scene from Alien, ugly, nightmarish, an abomination and others suggested the Vatican’s choice perfectly sums up 2020 (I don’t think that was a complement.) LifeSiteNews, a Catholic news agency, provides the details of Pope Francis’ choice for this year: VATICAN CITY, December 11, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — The Vatican nativity scene, unveiled during an evening ceremony today in St. Peter’s Square, has been roundly ridiculed and scorned as a modernist insult to the Incarnation and the Holy Family. “This year, more than ever, the staging of the traditional space dedicated to Christmas in St. Peter’s Square is meant to be a sign of hope and trust for the whole world,” a Vatican statement about the scene had promised earlier. […] “So the Vatican presepe has been unveiled….turns out 2020 could get worse,” tweeted art historian Elizabeth Lev. “It has nothing uplifting …

A Christmas letter from the perpetually offended

I love how they pretend their concern is that someone else will be offended, when we know it is them who is offended. Kim Hunt, a front line nurse in St. Anthony, Minnesota, received an anonymous letter from a neighbour complaining about Hunt’s very modest set of Christmas lights on her home. And, according to reports, three other people in the neighbourhood received a similar letter.

Will the ‘star’ of Bethlehem appear on Dec. 21, 2020?

According to Matthew, a star appeared telling the Magi of the East that a new King of the Jews had been born (Matthew 2:1-2). After they arrived in Jerusalem, a star then led the group to Bethlehem where they were able to bring gifts and worship the newly born Jesus (Matthew 2:9-11). Some suggest, we may be witnessing the same celestial phenomena that the magi saw on Dec. 20-21, 2020, when the planet Jupiter will align in front of Saturn producing a significantly brighter light in the night sky.

The battle for the true meaning of Christmas continues

The American Nativity Scene (ANS) is an organization in the U.S. dedicated to having a nativity scene set up in every state legislature in America. The goal of ANS is to help keep Christ at the center of the Christmas season and it believes this is ultimately a fight for religious freedom. This year ANS announced that another four more states have agreed to displaying Nativity scenes on their legislative grounds bringing the total to 31. The new additions include: Idaho; Oklahoma; Nevada; West Virginia; and Possibly more will be added. Contrary, to what many people believe, it is not unconstitutional for a privately funded nativity scene to be set up on public property for the Christmas season. The Thomas More Society that provides free legal representation for ANS states that it is a first amendment religious freedom right and fundamentally an issue of Free Speech. In 2019, ANS reported that an additional eight capitols agreed to allow a Nativity scene bringing the total to 27, with 21 of the Nativity Scenes being provided by …