Merry Christmas

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History reveals Jesus from Nazareth was a historical reality. Born during the Roman occupation, he stood at the crossroads of an empire.
He could have become an underground terrorist with the Zealots, a monk with the Essenes or a collaborator with the Jewish priests.
Instead, He chose a strange road and claimed to bear all human burdens for past, present and future.
Celebrate Christmas however you want.
But this year, consider the real reason for all the celebration. Sometimes reality lies in what is not instantly obvious.

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37 thoughts on “Merry Christmas

  1. I don’t know what his opinion of Christmas would be, but I feel confidant he would wish peace and joy to all. And so I wish to all here.

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  2. Excerpts from a Huffington Post article –

    Virgin Birth Can Affect Your Life, Believe It or Not

    There’s plenty of argument about whether Jesus was born of a virgin mother. Fundamentalists of course say yes. Liberal Christians often say the virginity is symbolic. Historians have other points to make. Example:
    The original Hebrew text of Isa 7:14 is not about a virgin. Rather, the Hebrew used to describe the woman in Isa 7:14 is almah, a word that means “young woman.”” BibleOdyssey.org

    And then there’s the fact that examples of virgin birth occur in many religions, some pre-dating Christianity, frequently enough that the concept might seem to be a built-in part of human psychology

    Also, no religion offers anything more miraculous than the ordinary methods of conception and childbirth.

    I don’t much care whether Jesus was born of a virgin, but given a choice I’d rather he wasn’t. Because: exalting virgin birth helps to make sex seem sinful, unholy, impure. Also, unlike the story of the fall from Eden in which a woman is the bad guy, virgin birth by a woman makes men seem unworthy. Neither of those attitudes is good for people to live by, yet both are part of what shapes us.

    Neither sexual guilt nor male-bashing (or woman-blaming) are healthy, in my view.

    So, my choice is to believe that birth by any means, and sex, and humans of any gender, and getting my shopping done, are all miraculous.. All well worth celebrating.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/peggy-payne/virgin-birth-can-affect-y_b_8828188.html?ir=Australia

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  3. A memorial to silent nights?

    Silent Night

    The fact that the St. Nicholas Church in Oberndorf has itself been replaced by a Silent Night Memorial Chapel seems, then, unintentionally ironic.

    A more striking memorial to the carol, perhaps, is Alfred Schnittke’s version for violin and piano from 1978.

    Here, a solo violin plays an ascetic version of the tune punctuated by “wrong” notes set against a quiet, but menacing peal from the piano. While it might at first seem an irreverent, even disrespectful, gesture, it soon becomes apparent that the carol is in fact being presented to us as a ruin.

    The particular time and place that produced “Silent Night”, along with its cultural and theological norms, Schnittke seems to say, is now lost to us. This is what we should expect. The past, after all, is a foreign country, they indeed do things differently there. To pretend otherwise is to risk turning the carol into kitsch.

    Nevertheless, the longings it expresses do retain contemporary currency, and perhaps this is the ultimate reason for the longevity of “Silent Night”. Christian or not, we all wish for moments of tranquillity, and we all sense in the birth of a child possibilities for a better future. For these reasons, I suspect this particular carol will continue to be heard over the din of our own Christmas seasons for many a year yet.

    Read more: http://www.ancient-origins.net/history/story-silent-night-005026#ixzz3vJEcHakX

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    • Umm…when I posted the link for the music, I was unaware of the nudes featured. While they might be artistic, I don’t see their relevance! In fact I think they spoil the pathos of the music.

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  4. Frauds speaking about Frauds

    There are many atheistic and Jesus mythologists who spout that the non Biblical references to Jesus do not really exist and so jesus does not. This fallacious “scholarship” ignores the facts that just because some evidence does not exists does not mean Jesus did not exist.
    The passage below is an example of some of the commentary on this.

    “This brief piece of evidence which supposedly contributed the best “proof” of Jesus’s existence has actually been proven to be a fraud. It has been demonstrated continuously over the centuries that “Testamonium Flavium” was a forgery manufactured by the Catholic Church, and was inserted into Josephus’s works. The Testamonium Flavium account is so thoroughly refuted, that biblical scholars since the 19th century have refused to refer to it, unless to mention its false nature.”

    No, such proof exists and so called scholars do not All endorse the fraud theory .leading Josephus scholar Louis H. Feldman, the authenticity of this passage “has been almost universally acknowledged” by scholars. (Feldman, “Josephus,” Anchor Bible Dictionary, Vol. 3, pages 990-91).

    Josephus lived in Palestine for so many years. He had written about Jesus’ brother James, given that Josephus was in Jerusalem at the time of James’ martyrdom. He writes about the times of Jesus, the places, towns and Romans.

    Explaining that Jesus did not exists is like saying the holocaust did not occur.

    Both defy logic, reasons and facts. Jesus, born in a manger, changed history forever and assures believers of the future.

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  5. Jesus was born

    He was presented gifts as a babe. The future symbolised through the gifts. Gold was a gift for a king; frankincense was a gift for Jesus’ divinity, and myrrh was a spice for His burial.

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    • Was he?

      Myths and legends have a deeper significance than literal truth.

      Many scholars do not see the Luke and Matthew nativity stories as historically factual. Many view the discussion of historicity as secondary, given that gospels were primarily written as theological documents rather than chronological timelines.

      The answer to the seemingly illogical situations during his adult life in relation to the nativity stories, are not illogical, if it is realized that the birth narratives were a later development in an evolving Christology. The Christmas story is an attempt through allegory, to explain Jesus’ divinity from the moment of his conception, not just from:

      The time of his resurrection as claimed by Paul, the first Christian chronicler (Romans 1: 4), or

      From the moment of his adult baptism as claimed by the earliest gospel (Mk. 1:9-11).

      It is as difficult to harmonize the Bible’s accounts of the birth of Jesus with the record of his adult ministry, as it is to explain the inconsistencies in these birth accounts themselves. Instead of taking the nativity stories in Matthew and Luke literally, and thereby doing a disservice to historicity and rational thought, we should perhaps accept them as religious myths. They are beautiful legends embodying faith in the supernatural and the efficacy of prophecy. They are attempts by these gospel authors to put into words their conception of a momentous, divine event. And they do so in a manner consistent with what credulous people in ancient times expected.

      Although we shall never be sure about the exact circumstances of Jesus’ birth, almost all theologians accept that about two thousand years ago, there was born in what is now called Palestine an extraordinary Jew who was to profoundly change the course of human history.

      http://progressivechristianity.org/resources/myths-surrounding-the-birth-of-jesus/

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      • Many scholars do not see the Luke and Matthew nativity stories as historically factual. What scholars????

        The answer to the seemingly illogical (which are what?)

        situations during his adult life in relation to the nativity stories, are not illogical, if it is realized that the birth narratives were a later development in an evolving Christology. (how?what evidence?)

        The Christmas story is an attempt through allegory, to explain Jesus’ divinity from the moment of his conception, not just from: (again, what evidence?)

        It is as difficult to harmonize the Bible’s accounts of the birth of Jesus with the record of his adult ministry, as it is to explain the inconsistencies in these birth accounts themselves.

        (What difficulties, what inconstancies?)

        Instead of taking the nativity stories in Matthew and Luke literally, and thereby doing a disservice to historicity and rational thought, we should perhaps accept them as religious myths. (Why?, what authority?)

        They are beautiful legends embodying faith in the supernatural and the efficacy of prophecy. They are attempts by these gospel authors to put into words their conception of a momentous, divine event. And they do so in a manner consistent with what credulous people in ancient times expected. (again, how do we know this to be true? What evidence?)

        The article says a lot without any authority, evidence or other information.

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      • It’s from the ‘Progressive Christianity’ site Alexie, which seems to me to be more a New Age philosophy than authentic Christianity. They claim to follow “the way of Jesus” rather than the Person of Jesus. There’s a profound difference, however subtle it may be to the non-Christian observer.

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      • Alexie:

        “It is as difficult to harmonize the Bible’s accounts of the birth of Jesus… (What difficulties, what inconstancies?)”.

        Sure. According to the gospel accounts in Matthew and Luke, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem, for what reason did Joeseph and Mary go to Nazareth?

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      • Monica, I am surprised you link this with New Age teachings, of which you are, quite reasonably in my opinion, dismissive. My investigation of them and their beliefs – and there are a variety – shows their behaviour as rooted in self, while claiming to be egalitarian. But perhaps in general no more or less than the rest of us.

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      • There was another Bethlehem, in Galilee. quite close to Nazareth, at the time. Luke and Matthew were obviously unaware of that when they were writing not only years after the birth, but also after the crucifixion, when Bethlehem in Judea seemed the logical place.

        I am not proclaiming they were wrong, but am recognising the possibility.

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      • Yes Strewth, I am dismissive of New Age philosophy. It is so contrary to faith in Jesus Christ that I do not want to give it the time of day. But I could be wrong about my perception of ‘progressive Christianity’ as I know nothing about it. Is it similar to the ’emergent church’? Not sure of spelling.

        What do you mean when you say their behaviour is ‘rooted in self’ Strewth?

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      • There is the prosperity type, Monica, I don’t know the proper term, but obviously they are for all that they can get. There are other varieties, but with some their behaviour belies their words. Like all being on the same path, just at different stages, so all equal. Yet the thinking is often unvoiced as “Yes, but I’m further along that path than you. I’m at a more advanced stage.”

        The other thing I dislike is the dogmatism. They can be just as dogmatic as a traditional Christian, sure that they have the Truth. My own thinking is that we are all ignorant, we need to rely on faith.

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      • “My own thinking is that we are all ignorant, we need to rely on faith.”

        Yes Strewth, spot-on! But I got to the stage in my faith journey where I no longer wanted to be a “reed shaken in the wind”, so to speak. I had to make a decision one way or the other, and so I decided that I would place my faith in the Person of Jesus Christ and in the Word of God. Mind you, at the time I felt as though I had left my ‘brain’ (reasoning) some place else! The internal battle was fierce! But, it turned out to be the best decision I ever made…..no regrets. So, I believe in absolutes (dogmas), which means I am no longer a “reed shaken in the wind”, and that’s fine by me. Each to their own.

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      • Hi Stu

        “for what reason did Joeseph and Mary go to Nazareth?”Luke 1 and 2 tells us that Joseph and Mary were in Nazareth when they were compelled to make the journey to Bethlehem.

        Later they returned to be with family. They may also have settled on a return to Nazareth upon learning that Herod’s son was now in power in Judea. This is the place where Jesus grows up and fulfils the prophecy in Isaiah about light coming out of the darkness as well as the prophecy of Jesus being a “Nazarene”.

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      • Strewth

        It is not uncommon that there were two “towns”. That is the same community, same name but two separate “areas of that town”. Some even had three.

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      • Hi Alexie:

        “…compelled to make the journey to Bethlehem”

        Why were they compelled? What does the author of Matthew say was the reason?

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      • There is no evidence for a town of Bethlehem in Judea at the time of the Nativity, according to archaeologist Aviram Oshri

        “I had never before questioned the assumption that Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea. But in the early 1990s, as an archaeologist working for the IAA, I was contracted to perform some salvage excavations around building and infrastructure projects in a small rural community in the Galilee. When I started work, some of the people who lived around the site told me how Jesus was really born there, not in the south. Intrigued, I researched the archaeological evidence for Bethlehem in Judea at the time of Jesus and found nothing. This was very surprising, as Herodian remains should be the first thing one should find. What was even more surprising is what archaeologists had already uncovered and what I was to discover over the next 11 years of excavation at the small rural site–Bethlehem of Galilee.”

        Aviram Oshri is a senior archaeologist with the Israel Antiquities Authority

        And Joseph and Mary were much more likely to have met if they had both come from Galilee. It’s a short distance too, for a pregnant woman on an ass.

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      • Stu on December 29, 2015 at 18:48 said
        Hi Alexie:
        “…compelled to make the journey to Bethlehem”
        Why were they compelled? What does the author of Matthew say was the reason?
        ……………………………………………………
        There are indeed serious problems with Luke’s census. Was it under Quirinius or Herod? No evidence of a Roman one at that stage, as Luke reported, but perhaps there was a traditional Jewish counting. Certainly no reason for a heavily pregnant Mary to attend.

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      • Strewth:

        “There are indeed serious problems with Luke’s census…”

        There are indeed. But relying on the gospel accounts alone, there are inconsistencies in the nativity stories in gLuke and gMatt, without looking at external evidence.

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    • The nativity in the Quran;

      “So she conceived him, and she withdrew with him to a remote place. And the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm tree. She said, ‘I wish I had died before this, and had been long forgotten. [Mary was worried that people would think badly of her as she was not married.] Then (baby Jesus) called her from below her, saying, ‘Don’t be sad. Your Lord has provided a stream under you.’ Shake the trunk of the palm tree towards you, and it will drop on you fresh ripe dates. So eat and drink and be happy. And if you see any human, then say, ‘Indeed I have vowed a fast to the Most Merciful so I will not speak to any human today.’ Then she carried him and brought him to her people. They said, ‘O Mary, indeed you have done a great evil.’ ‘O sister of Aaron, your father was not an evil man, and your mother was not a fornicator.’ So she pointed to him. They said, ‘How can we speak to a child in the cradle?’ (Jesus) said, ‘Indeed, I am a slave of God. He has given me the Scripture and made me a prophet. And He has made me blessed wherever I may be, and He has enjoined on me prayer and charity as long as I remain alive. And (has made) me kind to my mother, and did not make me arrogant or miserable. And peace be upon me the day I was born, and the day I will die, and the day I will be raised alive.’” (Quran 19:22-33)

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      • Yes. Stories were rife, containing elements of other times and events. This one reminds me of another Mary/Miriam. and another brother Aaron.

        Numbers 26:59
        the name of Amram’s wife was Jochebed, a descendant of Levi, who was born to the Levites in Egypt. To Amram she bore Aaron, Moses and their sister Miriam.

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      • This also reminds me of a theory that Jesus was born in Egypt, but I don’t know where I saw that.

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  6. Oh Beautiful Star of Bethlehem
    Shining afar through shadows dim
    Giving the light for those who long have gone
    Guiding the wise men on their way
    Unto the place where Jesus lay
    Oh Beautiful Star of Bethlehem, shine on

    Oh Beautiful Star the hope of rest
    For the redeemed the good and blessed
    Yonder in glory when the crown is won
    Jesus is now the star divine
    Brighter and brighter he will shine
    Oh Beautiful Star of Bethlehem, shine on

    Oh Beautiful Star, of Bethlehem
    Shine upon us until the glory dawns
    Give us the light to guide the way
    Unto the land of perfect day
    O Beautiful Star of Bethlehem, shine on

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  7. “the same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him was life; and the life was the light of men.” (Vs. 2-4)

    verse 14; “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. John bare witness of Him, and cried, saying, This was He of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for He was before me.” (vs. 14-15.)

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  8. The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king. And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asa, and Asa the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon. And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ. So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations. (Matthew 1:1-17)

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    • I would be surprised if that was his only ancestral line leading back to Abraham, and at least one seems to lead back to Terah Abram’s father, through Lot. As does the lineage of Jethro (Rueul), priest of Midian, and father in law of Moses.

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      • And Mary had two lineages, and Joseph had two, 2=2 = 4. Another generation back, and there are possibly 8.

        Sooner or later this collapses back as marriage partners are already related, but there are still more than two lines!

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    • And Amminadab, gggggrandfather of David and ancestor of Jesus, was also ancestor of Elisheba, Aaron’s wife and sister in law to Moses. The further back you look, in those times and places, relationships weren’t too scattered.

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      • And if ancestry has anything to do with it, Jesus had the right forebears for the message he brought. Some of his female ancestors were not considered ‘proper’ by the Pharisees. Take Tamar, Rahab, Bathsheba, and Ruth.

        Genesis 19:36-38 (NIV) 36 So both of Lot’s daughters became pregnant by their father. 37 The older daughter had a son, and she named him Moab; he is the father of the Moabites of today. 38 The younger daughter also had a son, and she named him Ben-Ammi; he is the father of the Ammonites of today.

        Ruth was from the tribe of people who were the product of incest. The Jews thought Moabites were disgusting – their very existence was nauseating to the Jewish people. There were laws concerning these people: Deuteronomy 23:3 (NIV) 3 No Ammonite or Moabite or any of his descendants may enter the assembly of the Lord, even down to the tenth generation.

        Yet Ruth became the wife of Boaz – like Rahab she converted to the truth and found grace in the eyes of God. Her great grandson was David.
        …………………………………………………………

        Christ the Messiah was not just for the Jews – He came for the whole world. The Gentiles in His genealogy speak message of love and grace to the entire world including the Gentiles.

        Jesus made it clear that He didn’t come for the righteous – He came for the unrighteous – the sinners like us. Matthew 9:13 (NIV) 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

        And we need to see the grace that the genealogy of Jesus presents. God’s love and acceptance to a forgiving King, to a Moabite and to a prostitute.

        http://www.richwoodfaithumc.org/Sermons%202012/Four-Outcasts-in-Jesus-Genealogy.html

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  9. “I came forth, and am come from God,”
    “Before Abraham was, I am,”
    “I came out from the Father, and am come into the world; again, I leave the world, and go unto the Father.”

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