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The X in Christmas is used like the R in R.C. My given name at birth was Robert Charles, although before I was even taken home from the hospital my parents called me by my initials, R.C., and nobody seems to be too scandalized by that.

X can mean so many things. For example, when we want to denote an unknown quantity, we use the symbol X. It can refer to an obscene level of films, something that is X-rated. People seem to express chagrin about seeing Christ’s name dropped and replaced by this symbol for an unknown quantity X. Every year you see the signs and the bumper stickers saying, “Put Christ back into Christmas” as a response to this substitution of the letter X for the name of Christ.

There’s No X in Christmas

First of all, you have to understand that it is not the letter X that is put into Christmas. We see the English letter X there, but actually what it involves is the first letter of the Greek name for Christ. Christos is the New Testament Greek for Christ. The first letter of the Greek word Christos is transliterated into our alphabet as an X. That X has come through church history to be a shorthand symbol for the name of Christ.

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December 25, 2018

Article by John Piper

The assumption behind this article is that the preciousness and pleasures of Christmas will be deeper, stronger, and more intense if we experience Christmas as part of something vaster than all creation and endless ages. The wisdom of God that planned for Christmas existed before the universe and embraces all that happens.

The universe is a theater for the display of God’s wisdom. Jesus Christ is the center and sum of that wisdom. It was executed by the Son of God and for the Son of God. Therefore, “all things were created through him and for him” (Colossians 1:16). God’s purpose which guided his plan was “set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him” (Ephesians 1:9–10).

This Christ-exalting plan for the universe was eternal — God had it in mind forever. The plan “was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Ephesians 3:11). It was a “mystery that was kept secret for long ages” (Romans 16:25) — “the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints” (Colossians 1:26). Imbedded in the long-hidden mystery was a promise of eternal life which God “promised before the ages began” (Titus 1:2).

Unfolding in God’s Theater

It was a plan that would turn the cosmos into a theater, with angels and devils seated in the heavenly galleries to watch the plan unfold. The plan was to put God’s wisdom on display with Christ at the center. The infinite divine wisdom would be seen in Christ’s great achievement — a bride for the Son of God, snatched from Satan’s hold, redeemed and beautified by the incarnation, death, and resurrection of the second person of the Trinity.

At last “the mystery hidden for ages in God would come to light, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 3:9–10). This is the eternal wisdom of God “which God decreed before the ages for our glory” (1 Corinthians 2:7).

This eternal, divine, cosmically displayed wisdom was summed up in the wonder of the God-man, Jesus Christ. “God’s mystery is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:2–3). Thus, in the incarnation, God “made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time” (Ephesians 1:9–10).

In other words, Christmas is a central act in a cosmic “plan” (oikonomian, Ephesians 1:10; 3:9) and cosmic “purpose” (prothesin, Ephesians 1:9, 11; 3:11). The plan existed before creation. It was not a response to sin in creation. Creation and redemption were pursued with sin and redemption in full view as part of the plan. Grace was not an afterthought to creation-gone-wrong. God gave us grace “in Christ Jesus before the ages began” (2 Timothy 1:9). Christmas, Good Friday, Easter, Second Coming, and Consummation were the eternal purpose and plan of creation, not a response to its fall.

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Article by David Mathis

Executive Editor, desiringGod.org

For years, our three stocking holders each brandished a letter: J O Y. It’s common Christmas decor. Joy in Christmas lights. Joy on banners. Joy in frames.

This year, as we unpacked our Christmas boxes, and did our annual purge, the JOY stocking holders wound up in the pile for the thrift store. The immediate cause was the advent of baby Mercy, born in April. Three letters are inadequate to hold four stockings. But perhaps we have a theological reason as well to let the JOY holders go.

Plain old joy undersells the glory of Christmas. Matthew and Luke accent different aspects of the birth story, but they sing this note in unison: Christ’s coming is not simply an occasion for joy, but great joy.

God’s World of Joys

In the beginning, the God of joy made a world of joys — a creation full of good, altogether “very good,” and primed to delight his creatures (Genesis 1:31; 2:9). As the work of his hands, we know joy. We have tasted his goodness in his world, even on this side of sin’s curse. We have experienced, however meagerly or infrequently, the blessed emotional surges of God-made delight — in a kind word, in a friend’s hug, in our team’s victory, in a cool breeze, in good food and drink. We know normal joy.

But Christmas is not normal joy. Christmas, the Gospels say, is great joy. Christmas is not natural joy, but supernatural. God set Christmas apart. He himself has come down in the person of his Son. The Word has become flesh. The long-awaited Savior is born. When the angel heralds his arrival, he says, “I bring you good news of great joy” (Luke 2:10). And when pagan astrologers traverse far and find him, “they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy” (Matthew 2:10).

God gave us a world of joys to get us ready for this moment when announcing “joy” no longer would be enough. God gave us joy for Christmas joy to surpass it.

God’s Words of Joy

But not only did God fill his world with joy, but also his word. The Bible is replete with “joy” — more than two hundred times in an English translation — but “great joy” appears in single digits. “Great joy” is rare and climactic. At the anointing of David’s own son as his successor, at the height of Israel’s kingdom — “great joy” (1 Kings 1:40). At the restoration of the Passover after generations of neglect — “great joy” (2 Chronicles 30:26). At the dedication of Nehemiah’s rebuilt walls after the return from exile — “great joy” (Nehemiah 12:43). Joy is the stuff of every day; “great joy” is kept for the highest of moments.

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by 12 . 26 . 16

“Christmas comes even in the midst of rubble.” Those words were written by Dietrich Bonhoeffer to his parents on November 29, 1940. From his monastic haven in the Benedictine community at Ettal, Bonhoeffer was keenly aware of the “rubble” in which the Feast of the Incarnation was about to be celebrated. Inside the letter to his parents, Bonhoeffer included an Advent card with the nativity scene painted by Albrecht Altdorfer in 1511. It shows the Holy Family huddled together in a dilapidated house, which looks for all the world like a modern bomb shelter. Real bombs were then falling all over Europe, and the military success of the Nazi armies during the summer of 1940 promised that the war would not end quickly. There would yet be much more rubble before the nightmare was over.

Bonhoeffer will always be remembered for his role in the conspiracy to assassinate Adolf Hitler, an activity that led to his execution on April 9, 1945. But even in the shadowy work he did as a double agent for the Abwehr, Bonhoeffer never lost sight of the fact that he was an ordained Lutheran pastor. As the founding director of an illegal, underground seminary of the Confessing Church, Bonhoeffer had grown close to the students with whom he shared a unique “life together,” as he titled one of his shorter writings. In August 1937, Heinrich Himmler had issued a decree criminalizing such schools.

Still, Bonhoeffer continued to work with small groups of students that met in isolated, out-of-the-way places such as Sigurdshof in eastern Pomerania. In March 1940, the Gestapo discovered this place too and shut it down. How was “Bruder Bonhoeffer,” as the students called him, to stay in touch with his scattered flock? Beginning in May 1940 and continuing through November 1942, Bonhoeffer wrote a series of seven circular letters (Rundbriefe) to his dispersed students. Many of them had by then been drafted and sent to the front lines, and a number of them had fallen in battle. Bonhoeffer corresponded as best he could with his former students at the front. From Ettal, he sent greetings and Christmas presents to their wives and children at home.

The circular letters dealt with issues of pastoral and spiritual concern faced by the former seminarians now far removed from the life they had once shared as a close-knit community of love and learning. How does one maintain a daily order of prayer and Scripture reading, so essential to the Christian life, while carrying out the duties of a soldier? What purpose could God possibly have in permitting the deaths of so many young pastors? How could spiritual equilibrium be maintained in the midst of so much suffering and loss? These and other questions Bonhoeffer answered with compassion, insight, and pastoral sensitivity. The circular letter written from Ettal in December 1940 dealt with how to celebrate Christmas amidst the rubble.

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Bonhoeffer on Christmas

Lutheran theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was executed for plotting against Hitler, is in vogue today.  Much of what people are so excited about in his writings is simply Lutheran spirituality.  Michael Gerson writes a fine column about Bonhoeffer’s reflections from a Nazi prison on Christmas.  What Bonhoeffer is saying–the inversions, the paradoxes, the repudiation of power (of great interest in a postmodern apologetic)–is an application to Christmas of Luther’s theology of the Cross.

From Michael Gerson: A God on our side | GazetteXtra:

The appeal of Christmas to a prisoner, from one perspective, is natural. Christmas upends the normal calculations of power and influence.

“He takes what is little and lowly,” said Bonhoeffer, “and makes it marvelous. And that is the wonder of all wonders, that God loves the lowly. .. He loves the lost, the neglected, the unseemly, the excluded, the weak and broken.”

This is not merely a sentimental insight. In Bonhoeffer’s view, this revelation about the character of God involves a kind of judgment.

“No powerful person dares to approach the manger, and this even includes King Herod. For this is where thrones shake, the mighty fall, the prominent perish, because God is with the lowly. Here the rich come to nothing, because God is with the poor and hungry, but the rich and satisfied he sends away empty. Before Mary, the maid, before the manger of Christ, before God in lowliness, the powerful come to naught; they have no right, no hope; they are judged.”

This means, of course, that nearly all of us are judged—convicted by our indifference to the needs of others and sentenced to our own sour, self-flagellating company.

“And then,” Bonhoeffer wrote, “just when everything is bearing down on us to such an extent that we can scarcely withstand it, the Christmas message comes to tell us that all our ideas are wrong, and that what we take to be evil and dark is really good and light because it comes from God. Our eyes are at fault, that is all. God is in the manger, wealth in poverty, light in darkness, succor in abandonment. No evil can befall us; whatever men may do to us, they cannot but serve the God who is secretly revealed as love.”

Modern people, surrounded by violence and oppression, presented with morally conflicted choices, are not in need of an ethical system. They are in need of hope. And that sets a limit on our own effort.

“A prison cell like this,” Bonhoeffer wrote, “is a good analogy for Advent; one waits, hopes, does this or that—ultimately negligible things—the door is locked and can only be opened from the outside.”

In the Christian view, the door was swung open by the incarnation, by a God who somehow became a defenseless child, a refugee, a teacher of good, a victim of injustice, left alone, tired, in doubt to face a humiliating death.

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December 27, 2015 in Column, Opinion

Michael Gerson: Bonhoeffer resisted Nazis, offered hope

Michael Gerson The Washington Post

The current ferment of American politics has brought comparisons to Europe in the 1930s, with echoes of leaders who stoke anger against outsiders and promise a return to greatness through the application of a strong man’s will.

The analogy is hardly exact. Lacking the economic chaos and fragile institutions …

The current ferment of American politics has brought comparisons to Europe in the 1930s, with echoes of leaders who stoke anger against outsiders and promise a return to greatness through the application of a strong man’s will.

The analogy is hardly exact. Lacking the economic chaos and fragile institutions of Weimar Germany, America has fewer footholds for fascism. But the reaction to fascist darkness in the 1930s produced a figure, a bright light, who should guide us.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German theologian who resisted the Nazis and the influence of Nazism in his own church. He spoke out on behalf of German Jews, was implicated in a plot against Adolf Hitler’s life, was imprisoned, wrote and ministered for years from confinement, then was led naked to the execution ground and hung with a noose of piano wire, just weeks before the end of World War II.

As a theologian, Bonhoeffer was farsighted. Modern Western societies, he argued, were becoming “radically religionless.” It is not possible to reimpose this consensus, and mere nostalgia is pointless. But religion – in Bonhoeffer’s view, a changeable form of “human self-expression” – is not the same as faith. “If religion is only the garment of Christianity – and even the garment has looked very different at different times – then what is religionless Christianity?”

It is a question that could occupy a theologian’s entire career. Bonhoeffer’s was cut short at age 39. But it is worth noting one thing he did not find outdated. He believed that Advent and the story of Christmas speak directly to the modern world.

The appeal of Christmas to a prisoner, from one perspective, is natural. Christmas upends the normal calculations of power and influence. “He takes what is little and lowly,” said Bonhoeffer, “and makes it marvelous. And that is the wonder of all wonders, that God loves the lowly. … He loves the lost, the neglected, the unseemly, the excluded, the weak and broken.”

This is not merely a sentimental insight. In Bonhoeffer’s view, this revelation about the character of God involves a kind of judgment. “No powerful person dares to approach the manger, and this even includes King Herod. For this is where thrones shake, the mighty fall, the prominent perish, because God is with the lowly. Here the rich come to nothing, because God is with the poor and hungry, but the rich and satisfied he sends away empty. Before Mary, the maid, before the manger of Christ, before God in lowliness, the powerful come to naught; they have no right, no hope; they are judged.”

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Advent Candles

by — December 5, 2014

For many Christians like me, Christmas is a time of comfort, of peace, and of abundance.  We’re fortunate if that is the case.  But what if Christmas is intended to be an annual reminder of our need for a Savior to break into our darkness, our “homelessness,” and for us to be convicted of our lack of offensive faith?  What if Advent, the season leading up to the celebration of the Incarnation, ought not make us sentimental and satisfied but rather challenge us to live out our sentness as bold heralds of Christ’s coming?

I picked up a Kindle deal this weekend on Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Advent sermons, preached between 1928 and his death in 1945.  In the first section, featuring a sermon preached in Barcelona on 2 December 1928, Bonhoeffer opened,

“Celebrating Advent means learning how to wait.”

Related: Thats my kind of Santa Clause 

Then, he later made two statements that challenged my Advent meditations this year:

“Not all can wait – certainly not those who are satisfied, contented, and feel that they live in the best of all possible worlds!  Those who learn to wait are uneasy about their way of life, but yet have seen a vision of greatness in the world of the future and are patiently expecting its fulfillment.  The celebration of Advent is possible only to those who are troubled in soul, who know themselves to be poor and imperfect, and who look forward to something greater to come.”

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December 3, 2014 by

2014 Advent ID.001This was the message on the first Sunday of Advent, 2014 for Redemption Church. If you are a pastor feel free to copy & steal (w/attribution please!). You can listen to the message here.

 

 

Advent 1B – Isaiah 64:1-9 / Waiting

“O, that you would tear open the heavens and come down.”

Today marks the beginning of the season of Advent, which is the 1st day in the new church year. So, by the Christian Calendar, today is New Year’s Day… Happy New Year. There are no bowl games or anything. We just mark the leaving of Ordinary Time as we begin to move thru this progression of Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Holy week, Pentecost.

I want to try something to give us a picture of what Advent is about.

(Exercise: First, sing a chord in three part harmony. Then sing same chord as an Amen. Sing the Amen loudly, then softly. Finally, sing the Amen moving from loud to soft). You can listen to the decrescendo here.

That is what is called a decrescendo. Advent is meant to be a long decrescendo. For the next four weeks until Christmas Eve our lives are meant to be a decrescendo. While the rest of the world ramps up to Christmas, we ramp down to Christmas. And there is a reason for this, and singing a decrescendo can help us to see it.

Let’s sing again, start off singing loudly slowly get softer, and this time pay close attention to the intensity that builds as we are getting more and more quiet. (sing)

Did you feel it? The emotional peak isn’t at the beginning, but at the end! That quiet moment when everyone’s singing as softly as they can without dropping out? That’s the advent moment. That’s the moment we are shooting for. And then the few seconds of silence right after we stop, that’s the Christ moment in the celebration of Advent, quiet reverence, anticipation, waiting, awe, wonder, & then release.

The intensity of a decrescendo is why we ramp down to Christmas. And if we do this well, we will reach Christmas Eve prepared to encounter the wonder of incarnation. And, if we’re going to do this well, it will take some intentional planning. We’ll have to front-load as many of our Christmas activities as we can. Do all the decorating, cooking, cleaning, and shopping early on in the month.

Then, as the month goes on, start to shut things down. Don’t go out at night as much. Watch less TV. Find some down time to rest up, and get good sleep. You might even want to take a day off work or a half-day. Find a way to get off by yourself. Go to a museum or a park and just be still and quiet.

I promise if you do this, it will radically change your experience of Christmas. If you make Advent a long slow decrescendo, then you’ll experience growing intensity in your waiting, a reverence

that gives way Christmas Eve, to the wonder, awe, and joy of God becoming flesh.

All month we are preparing our souls for that quiet moment just before we light the Christ candle Christmas Eve. Our hope is to become still & receptive & open, in this posture of waiting & anticipating & receiving.

Which is actually the posture of the Hebrew people awaiting Messiah, & this idea of waiting. The passage for today actually begins a chapter earlier, with a long remembrance of the Exodus.

Isaiah 63:18-19 “Your holy people possessed your sanctuary [temple] for a little while; Our adversaries have trodden it down. We have become like those over whom You have never ruled; like those who were not called by Your name.”

Isaiah’s talking about Israel’s descent into Exile, the loss of the Promised Land, and the Temple. Technically this is a Lament Song like you’d find in Psalms. Isaiah’s saying, “You parted the sea, brought us out of Egypt, thru wilderness, into the Promised Land, & now look at us! We’ve been carried off to Babylon… What happened?” It’s this emotional Lament, Israel is destitute, dispossessed…

If you need a contemporary example, imagine how Native Americans must feel today in America. That’s a kind of an exile experience. It was a time of great confusion & uncertainty.

So Isaiah writes this expressive, poetic song that begins:

Is 64:1-2 “Oh, that You would tear open the heavens and come down; that the mountains might quake at Your presence, as fire kindles the brushwood, as fire causes water to boil, to make Your name known to your adversaries; that the nations may tremble at your presence!”

This opening verse provides the refrain for the people of God in Exile, “It feels like you have disappeared all the sudden. Oh, that you would tear open the heavens & come down! Because we need you here!”

Is 64:3-4 “When you did awesome deeds that we did not expect, you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence. From ages past no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who works for those who wait for him. You meet those who gladly do right, those who remember you in your ways.”

This is the quintessential Advent statement. There is no God besides the one who “works for those who wait for him. Advent is about waiting. Then comes one of the most fascinating verses in this section. Isaiah, in the midst of his confession, also makes an accusation:

Is 64:5 “But you were angry, and we sinned; because you hid yourself we transgressed.”

Isaiah blames God for the problems. He says, “I know we transgressed, but you hid yourself. What did you think was gonna happen?” Where did you go? Isaiah asks.

Is 64:6 “We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy cloth. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.”

Isaiah is trying to say that the people are no longer observant Jews. They’ve been forced to eat unclean foods and do unclean things. “We’re fading or disintegrating like leaves in the wind.” And then there’s another accusation:

Is 64:7 “There is no one who calls on your name, or attempts to take hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us, and have delivered us into the hand of our iniquity.”

This is the prophetic move. Isaiah says, “It’s true, nobody calls out to you or reaches for you God, but it’s not all our fault… because you’ve hidden yourself from us.”

In our time, because we’ve sterilized our view of God, we can miss the power of this statement. Isaiah accuses God, and God does not correct him. God seems to sanction this view that there is a kind of hiddenness to the character of God.

The theological term for this is deus absconditus, which is Latin for ‘hidden God’. It refers to the reality that since the fall, God has not been fully present to his people. God has often seemed hidden or absent. The presence of God has been somewhat elusive and mysterious.

The prophet says this hiddenness is partly to blame for the struggles of God’s people, and it causes great tension that the text refuses to solve. The people have transgressed, yes, but God has pulled back. And nobody tries to solve the tension, not God, the prophet, or scriptures

Have you ever felt this tension? When you pray, do you ever feel like no one’s there? Ever feel like God is absent? Ever crave a sense of connection to God & it doesn’t come? That’s the hiddenness of God. It can be confusing & painful, and it has always bothered the people of God. So, God’s people have always asked, “Why don’t you tear open the heavens & come down?”

We could do two months on this one question; so today we’re going to limit ourselves to one aspect of it. In this text, God’s hiddenness seems to come (at least in part), as a response that is meant for the good of God’s people. They had been so unfaithful for so long, that God sort of went dark. And this creates an existential crisis for Israel. Which seems to be what God was aiming for.

It’s like this thing that happens with me & my kids sometimes. I’ll be trying to read to them before bedtime, and they will be chattering, laughing. My mom used to call it the “tired sillies.” Does this happen at your house? It can be a pretty maniacal mood before bedtime at our house. And in that moment I can: 1) power up and scream & holler & punish. Or, 2) I can go dark, sit their quietly and don’t say a word.

If I come at my kids with shock & awe, I can reduce them to tears in about 10 seconds… watch. Just kidding. I can do that, but not without putting scars on their hearts, right? (& mine, too). As a father I have this power over my kids, and if I use it in a certain way I can hurt them, even destroy them.

But if I’ll go dark, if I sit quietly & don’t say a word, then it’ll take a while, but eventually they’ll notice I’m not reading. And they come to this awareness on their own. If I yell and scream it’ll stop, but not without collateral damage. But, if I just pull back & sit still, then at some point they’ll become acutely aware of my presence in the room. And, if they come to this awareness on their own, it has staying power. When they settle down not by my choice, but by their own choice. That’s real obedience. That’s a bending of the will.

The hiddenness of God is a move like that. Exile is a move like that, too. Israel is not listening to God, they are fooling around with other gods, hurting themselves, hurting each other, so something needs to be done. God can come at them with shock and awe, and crush them. (By the way, this is the action of the flood… which had dire consequences & God promised not to do it again) Or, God can go dark, just be silent… still present but presence shrinks down. And this offers his children a chance to come to their senses & come back to him.

Now in something like reading books at bedtime, it’s a small thing. But on a cosmic scale, or in regard to a big life event, or especially on the day to day level, the hiddenness of God can be quite difficult for us.

Let’s just tell the truth. It stinks to pray & feel like no one’s there—to reach out to God & crave a sense of connection to God & it doesn’t come… that’s tough.

And this is one of the difficult things about being a Christian; there is a sense in which God is hidden in this life that is for our own good. And what the bible bears witness to time & time again is that this is as painful for the Father as it is for us. That God continually chooses to embrace vulnerability & weakness in order to win our hearts is incredibly costly to God…

Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote about it this way: “God lets himself be pushed out of the world on to the cross. He is weak and powerless in the world, and that is precisely the way, the only way, in which he is with us and helps us.”

God has chosen to make God’s-self known in weakness.
Read more: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/paperbacktheology/2014/12/advent-the-great-decrescendo-advent-1b-isaiah-641-9.html#ixzz3KtzG2MX3

 

by JOE CARTER

Christmas is the most widely observed cultural holiday in the world. Here are nine things you should know about the annual commemoration of the birth of Jesus:

nativity-scene-background1. No one knows what day or month Jesus was born (though some scholars speculate that it was in September). The earliest evidence for the observance of December 25 as the birthday of Christ appears in the Philocalian Calendar, composed at Rome in 336.

2. Despite the impression giving by many nativity plays and Christmas carols, the Bible doesn’t specify: that Mary rode a donkey; that an innkeeper turned away Mary and Joseph (only that there was no room at the inn); that Mary gave birth to Jesus the day she arrived in Bethlehem (only that it happened “while they were there”); that angels sang (only that the “heavenly host” spoke and praised God); that there were three wise men (no number is specified) or that the Magi arrived the day/night of Jesus’ birth.

3. Rather than being born in a stable, Jesus was likely born in a cave or a shelter built into a hillside. The hills around Bethlehem were dotted with small caves for feeding and boarding livestock. The exact site of Jesus’ birth is unknown, but by the third century, tradition had established a probable cavern. Constantine’s mother, Helena, erected the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem over the small space.

4. During the Middle Ages, children were bestowed gifts in honor of Saint Nicholas (the namesake for Santa Claus). In an attempt to turn away from the Catholic veneration of saints and saint’s days, Martin Luther laid gift-giving in his household on Christmas Eve. He told his children that “Holy Christ” (Christkind) had brought their presents. The tradition caught on with many Lutherans, though later St. Nick would get the credit as often as Christkind.

5. Martin Luther is widely credited as the first person to decorate Christmas trees with lights. Walking toward his home one winter evening, composing a sermon, he was awed by the brilliance of stars twinkling amidst evergreens. To recapture the scene for his family, he erected a tree in the main room and wired its branches with lighted candles.

6. The X in Xmas was not originally intended, as some people believe, to “take Christ out of Christmas.” The written symbol X was frequently used to represent the letter in the Greek alphabet called Chi (the first letter in the Greek word Christos). In many Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, X abbreviates Christos (Xristos). This practice entered the Old English language as early as AD 1000 and by the 15th century, “Xmas” was widely a used symbol for Christmas.

7. The Puritans objected to the celebration of Christmas. In 1647, the Puritan government canceled Christmas, forbidding traditional expressions of merriment, ordering shops to stay open, churches to stay closed, and ministers arrested for preaching on Christmas Day.

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The Angelic Announcement to the Shepherds!

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