Tag Archives: Christmas

Picture Christmas

A picture can speak a thousand words. This picture proclaims the complete meaning of Christmas. It is God’s message through the baby born in a manager. That manager was located in the city of King David, Bethlehem, Israel.

The wise men saw the star prophesied by Balaam. It was an astronomical star within a nearby constellation. This particular constellation and its brightest star represented the coming messiah, who would rule the world. As God revealed it to Balaam:

"I see him, but not now;
 I behold, but not near;
 A star shall forth from Jacob,
 A scepter shall rise from Israel."

Those wise men followed the brilliant star that symbolized God’s new born king who would reign forever. That is why they brought him presents of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Those were gifts only given by ambassadors of other countries to honor kings and other royalty. According to one scholar, the wise men were well known ambassadors from Rome’s rival empire Parthia, which was east of Israel.

What did they do when they found the baby who had been born in the manger and wrapped in an old wick from Israel’s national menorah. That menorah was so big that when it was lite its light illuminated all of Jerusalem and beyond. Those men with their military entourage bowed down to honor the king-messiah who was the light of the world. In his light all humanity would be blessed with the knowledge of God and with eternal life.

Before this could become reality, the cute baby would have to grow up and live a sinless life. He would have to fulfill God word and will without compromise. And in the end, Jesus would have to suffer consequences of humanity’s breaking God law. Those consequences include pain, injustice, hate, mockery, betrayal, and death. The wages of sin is death. Just consider the world around us. Consider the reason for divorce, abandonment, alienation, isolation, lying, and division … anything but unity, peace and good. And, notice what was not mentioned: sickness and physical death. Death is more than a biological end. It continues beyond the grave.

Furthermore, let’s consider the kind of death new born king would suffer for humanity. Those who committed crimes against the Roman Empire ruled by Caesar were severely punished. Individuals, groups, even village and cities who rebelled against the Roman rule were either killed or enslaved. Leaders of insurrections were usually crucified. Because Jesus was accused of insurrection by Jewish officials and because they demanded the death penalty, Pilate had him crucified. What was his crime according to Rome’s local overlord, Pilate: He was king of the Jews. 

God brought Jesus into the world to be sacrificed for the sins of all people. He suffered every form of punishment for every human being. All have sinned, and deserve punishment. Whether for a little lie or a habit of lying, for stealing a toy or robbing a bank, for immorality of every kind, for lying in wait to seduce someone or lying in wait harm, for killing an animal for fun or murdering a fellow human, Jesus suffered the slow death by execution on a cross for all crimes of all people for all time.

The good news is Jesus conquered death in all of its forms. God raised him from the dead. Just as those who saw the empty tomb, ate with him and received his instructions after rising from the dead, and who saw him ascend into heaven, we can know the son of God who lives forever more. Because he lives, we too can know God, experience His love, His forgiveness, and His life. To have a relationship with God is eternal life. That life begins now.

by Daniel Downs

The Gift of Christmas

Christmas is a wonderful time of year. Time off from school or work. Time with family and friends. Inspiring music fills the air and soul with joy. Dramatic plays direct our minds to real meaning of this holiday.

The history of Christmas go back beyond the man named Saint Nicolas, who went around giving gifts to make people merry. He is as real today as in medieval times. A number of years ago he was seen driving a red and white Cadillac and visiting hospitals and orphanages throughout the United States. Yes, his white hair, beard and mustache are not fake, neither is his fat belly or name: Saint Nicholas. Santa Clause must be a modern make-over for commercial reasons. How St. Nick got the name Kris Kringle is anyone’s guess. What we do know is history leads us back to ancient times when Christmas actual began.

It was around 4 BC, when angels appeared to a group of shepherds, most likely on their way to the annual Jewish Festival of Booths, announcing the birth of the long awaited messiah. During this festival, people of Israel celebrated their freedom that began with the Exodus experienced by their ancestors. Around the same time, Parthia’s ambassadors, also called Magi, came to Jerusalem accompanied by a military escort, looking for the newly born Messiah-king of Israel. Along with indigenous Jews, they too came to celebrate the prospect of liberty from Rome’s imperial influence. The disturbing problem for King Herod and Caesar by the magi’s visit was the fact that Parthia was an independent kingdom with whom Rome has a military truce based on formal treaties. What could they do about representatives of a foreign power creating expectations of a new messianic era of independence?

The expectations and hope spread by the magi, shepherds, and even priests were not to be fulfilled. The boy conceived during the Festival of Lights–a celebration of freedom and salvation–and born during the festival of the an even more ancient experience of God’s salvation and independence from dehumanizing bondage—was destined to save the world from an even more ancient evil: bondage to sin. It is this power over human thought and behavior that Jesus was sent by God to destroy, and not the empire of Rome. This would come in God’s predetermined time.

The power of sin is the prevailing source of all the human atrocities, wars, moral crimes, envy, jealousy, pride and greed that motivate violence and murder, resulting in poverty, social disintegration, distrust, alienation, divorce, and the like. In infant innocence, Jesus came via the manager to deliver humanity from the power and consequences of sin.

The real difference between Exodus and “the Cross” is this: Exodus liberated socially, politically and economically; it changed social status, resulted in a new political amenability, created greater potential for economic independence, and was intended to produce a new social morality reflecting God’s nature. Jesus’s birth, death and resurrection accomplishes the same but by changing human nature, which is accomplished by the overmastering power of God’s spirit. This is the Spirit who created the first sinless human, and recreated a second sinless human to redeem the progeny of the first, which includes us. If this babe who came via Bethlehem’s manger is taken seriously as God’s light and covenant, then God is free to accomplish his redemptive goal in and through our lives, society and world. For the life of baby Jesus is a model of the God who delivers from every form of bondage and the power behind it. Amenable to his word and rule, liberty and prosperity of soul and society produce peace, joy and good will. As God leads the way through adversity and opposition, Christ empowers loyal believers to a good and eternal life in God’s kingdom.

Why not accept God’s Christmas gift.

Ohio Commerce Employees Repair Stuffed Toys for the Holidays

Manger Scene Toys Employees from the Ohio Department of Commerce’s Division of Industrial Compliance & Labor and other Commerce employees donated their lunch hour today to carefully repair more than 300 stuffed toys to be donated to children this holiday season.

“This is a wonderful tradition that gives us the opportunity to help brighten the holidays for children throughout Central Ohio,” said Commerce Director David Goodman.

The Division’s Bedding and Upholstered Furniture laboratory inspects filler material inside representative samples of stuffed toys to ensure they are safe and accurately labeled. Manufacturers send hundreds of items to the lab in Reynoldsburg each year where they are cut open by technicians to examine their contents. The technicians perform chemical and microscopic tests on hundreds of different types of fillers used in toys produced by manufacturers from around the world.

After inspection, the toys are set aside until the holidays when they are repaired by state employees who sew the incisions closed making them good as new. This is the 26th year of the event, named the “Norman DeHaas Annual Holiday Sewing Project” in memory of long-time Bedding Section supervisor Norman DeHaas, who was an advocate of the project and active in local charities.

The stuffed toys will be donated to several local charitable organizations, who will give them to needy children this holiday season.

[Note from the editor: One would think the above could be improved by replacing holiday(s) season with Christmas. Yet, there are three different holidays celebrated between Thankgiving and the New Year. They are Chanukah (Dec. 20-28; Christmas (Dec. 25), and Kwanzaa (Dec. 26-Jan.1). Gift giving is characteristic of all three tradistions. The term “holidays” may be religiously neutral language but this editor previous the founding American tradition of celebrating the birth of Christianity.]

Christmas and World Peace

By Daniel Downs

“Blessed are the peacemakers” (Matthew 5:12)

During the days of Jesus, Augustus Caesar was the acclaimed prince of peace. This praise was without critical comment. Peace in the Roman Empire was not won by reasoned negotiation but by the power of the sword. In the book of Revelation, John sees a rider on a white horse. The rider went conquering and to conquer. This vision describes Caesar, Alexander the Great, Napoleon, and many other leaders whose peace was packaged for subjugated peoples in terms of existence. Peace meant “my way or else.” A more accurate way of putting it would be don’t make me come back to deal with rebellion or with disruption of the flow of taxes or trade. Maintain law and order as well as tax payments and all will be well. That was the peace of Pax Romana.

In our modern Pax Americanus, the substance behind rhetoric of world peace is often about conflict over trade and disputes about the flow of goods like wheat, oil, and weapons. It is true that concern about the health and well-being of others is debated and money spent to resolve perceived problems. Yet, such concerns remain secondary to the kind of peace necessary for the continued growth in the global economy.

The issue of Middle East peace is one example. The on-going conflict between Israel, Palestinians, and Arabs may be religious and territorial in nature but our contemporary Caesars see the problem as an unnecessary disruption to the flow of goods regionally and globally. The not-so-powerful see the achievement of peace in the Middle East as an end to poverty among Palestinians. Others see poor Palestinians as one weapon of war against the continued existence of the Zionist state, which also means Arabs could have ended Palestinian poverty long ago.

In Pax Americana, liberal special interest groups often criticize Christian conservatives for focusing on politics rather than on the moral reform of individuals in society. Although valid to a point, the criticism is based on the belief that religion is not relevant to public policy affecting all aspects of daily life. The source of this belief is humanism or enlightenment rationalism exemplified by French intellectuals. This view was not held by most early Americans, which is one reason the liberal belief is erroneous. Because religion is both a world view encompassing life now and hereafter as well as a means to resolving problems, religion is crucial to politics.

In fact, religion is likely the only source to genuine peace.

Some will find such as statement outrageous because they see religion as one of the primary sources of violent human abuses, global conflicts, and war. Yet, the same can be said of secularists who have followed Marx such as communist leaders around the world. To the credit of secular statists, hundreds of millions of citizens as well as enemies have been tortured, maimed, and killed.

The mantra of secularists has been “you cannot legislate morality,” which by the way is the basis of peace. The opposite was held by the founders who regarded legislating immorality as an anti-law act. America’s inheritance of the rule of law concept goes back at least to the biblical accounts of the legal and consensus covenant between God and Israel and the development of their law codes and governing institutions. These in turn influenced the development of constitutional law in the American colonies.

The American experiment was the application of previous centuries of the Protestant (Puritan) struggle for religious freedom constituted by culture and law. The testimony of history is religion and bureaucratic power always result in human injustice, institutional led violence, and war. As noted above, the problem is not limited to religion but to ideologies instituted through power of governance. As the horrible news reported daily by the media proves, Calvinist-Puritans are still right about inherent depravity of humanity. It was this self-evident truth that led to the development of written legal compacts of which the US Constitution is one part and contract laws.

As the early Americans understood, peace is achieved by doing what is right according to the law of God and of nature. When laws, public policy, and behavior conform to this law, the result has to be peace. Only then will there be peace on earth and perpetual good will toward men, women, boys, and girls. International terrorism, wars, domestic violence, poverty, greed, envy, revenge, and the like will subside. Goods and services naturally will flow unhindered and without imperialist manipulations. Populations will control themselves without a death culture operated by paternal elitists.

That is exactly why the human race requires salvation by the only real prince of peace—Jesus Christ. Jesus entered the world on a peace mission. Many then and now see his death as mission failure. However, his death accomplished terms of reconciliation between God and humanity that know one else could achieve. His death paid the eternal price required to satisfy God’s justice concerning all of our moral crimes. He was raised from death in order to officiate over its implementation for every human. By accepting God terms of peace, each and all people will learn the way of peace. That is the reason Jesus commissioned his apostles to make disciples of all nations. Only then could there possibly be lasting peace on earth.

Many religions pursue peace as at least one, if not, the primary goal. However, most religious never really obtain peace with God. They miss the requirements of divine justice by only focusing on the necessary behaviors for right standing under God’s rightful rule. The problem is God cannot acquit (forgive) moral crimes committed any more than human judges do. The penalty for crimes committed must be paid. Good behavior before or after a moral crime is not sufficient to pay for the crime committed against God’s law. As the prophets and apostles proclaimed, “The soul that sins it shall die.” That is the price Jesus paid. His lordship guarantees the resources necessary to live right before God and thereby achieve the peace we all desire. Peace with God–the starting point to world peace.

To those who seek peace, Merry Christmas.

Santa’s Naughty-and Nice-List of American Business

The previous post titled “Poll Shows Most American For Christmas” reported that 80% of Americans either celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday or think it should be. The same Americans also think it Christmas should publicly honored at our public institutions and businesses. Given this level of support for celebrating Christmas as a religious holiday, I suspect most Americans would favor the efforts of the American Family Association’s to pressure retailers and other businesses into treating Christmas as … well as … the birthday humanity’s redeemer as celebrated by Christians.

That is why XCJ again posts the <a href=Naught and Nice list created by the American Family Association. This year, the list includes companies who are FOR Christmas, those Marginalizing Christmas, and those AGAINST Christmas. It is hoped readers who are for Christmas will not patronize business who are attempting to marginalize it or who are flatly against Christmas.

Companies FOR Christmas Marginalizing Companies Companies AGAINST
Bass Pro Shops
Bed Bath & Beyond
Best Buy
Big Lots
Collective Brands
Dick’s Sporting Goods
Family Dollar
Dollar General
H.E.B. Stores
Harris Teeter Stores
Hobby Lobby
JC Penney
JoAnn Fabrics & Crafts Stores
Michael’s Stores
Neiman Marcus
Office Max
Pier One Imports
Rite Aid
Scheels Sporting Goods
Super D Drug Stores
Toys R Us
Wal-Mart/Sam’s Club
Bath & Body Works
Dollar Tree
Hy-Vee Stores
Old Navy
Limited Brands
Whole Foods
Banana Republic
Barnes & Noble
CVS Pharmacy
Foot Locker
Gap Stores
Hancock Fabrics
L.L. Bean
Office Depot
Radio Shack
Victoria’s Secret

Reviewing last year’s naughty and nice list, a number businesses have lost the spirit of Christmas while some others lost the spirit of the Grinch. For example, Kroger and Costco must have been visited by the spirit of Christmas because both are on the FOR Christmas list. Old Navy is a tough nut crack. Last year the Old Navy Corporation regarded religious connotations of the season as bad for business. This its retail stores are begrudgingly acknowledging Christmas exists, but the corporate retailer did move up from flat out against to marginalizing the Christian-oriented holiday. A few examples of retailers who acquired the secular bah-hum-bug spirit are Walgreen’s and Office Depot. Walgreen’s went from For to Marginal. This may have been the result of some problem faced during the past year or two. Not everyone handles economic recessions equally well either. The Christmas spirit among corporate leaders at Office Depot have been soured. This is reflected having become oppositional to Christmas as a non-secular holiday. Let’s hope bah-hum-bug soon changes to a merry Christmas perspective.

A positive development is the dwindling number of businesses oppositional to Christmas. The Examiner reported 80% of American retailers think being for Christmas is good for business. The National Federation of Retailers agrees. Because 91% of Americans celebrate his birth on Christmas, they believe being pro-Christmas will increase sales by about 2.3 percent.

At least the wise men from the East believed it was a good idea to give gifts to celebrate his birth. Hopefully, AFA’s efforts will inspire Americans and American businesses to advance the cause of the babe born in the manager on Christmas day.

Merry Christmas!

Poll Shows Most Americans For Christmas

It becomes a hot-button issue this time every year: Should religious symbols be displayed on public land, or is that a violation of the long-standing separation between church and state? While legal battles continue to arise, Americans still overwhelmingly support such displays.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 74% of Adults say religious symbols like Christmas Nativity scenes, Hanukkah Menorahs and Muslim Crescents should be allowed on public land. Only 17% disagree and feel these symbols should not be allowed.

Eighty percent (80%) of American Adults also favor celebrating religious holidays in the public schools, another area subject to repeated legal challenge. This includes 43% who believe all religious holidays should be celebrated in the schools and 37% who think only some of those holidays should be recognized. The question did not specify which holidays should be celebrated and which should be excluded.
Fourteen percent (14%) are opposed to celebrating any religious holidays in the schools.

An overwhelming majority of Americans celebrate Christmas, and for most of those who celebrate, it’s a religious holiday rather than a secular one despite the strong commercial overtones of the season.

Very few Americans are offended when someone wishes them a “Merry Christmas,” but most are more likely to say “Happy Holidays” to someone else rather than risk offending them. They also prefer being greeted by store signs that say “Merry Christmas” rather than “Happy Holidays.”

Source: Ramussen Reports, December 14, 2010

XAMA Meeting Thursday 8AM Nov. 6 at Express Yourself Coffeehouse

Santa Claus is coming to town. That is after XAMA, Xenia Area Merchant Association, makes plans for his appearance during this year’s Hometown Christmas. Xenia merchants and citizens will be holding another planning meeting 8AM Thursday Nov. 6 at Express Yourself Coffeehouse and Art Gallery 78 E. Main Street. To help sponsor Hometown Christmas events, contact XAMA at xeniamerchants@sbcglobal.net for more information.

Hometown Christmas in Xenia Returns

On Wednesday, representatives of XAMA, the Xenia Area Merchants’ Association, met with representatives of the City of Xenia and the news media to begin detailed planning for this year’s “Hometown Christmas in Xenia” event. The overwhelming success of last December’s celebration assured that this year’s will be even better. Last year families walked all over town and had a chance to take a horse and buggy ride. Carolers strolled around town, stopping on corners and popping into local cafes. Children listened to Christmas stories, made decorations and gingerbread men at local stores, and everyone had a chance to experience the familiar feelings of the Christmas season in Xenia the way it used to be.

We had music on the Towne Square and Santa arrived to turn on the lights of the Christmas Tree and listen to the Christmas wishes of all of the little ones who came. The day was chilly but fine. Snow was neatly piled along the streets, spirits were high, and many of Xenia’s “townies” got to see one another for the first time in years.

So December 11-13 will be the dates this year. On Thursday the City of Xenia will welcome Santa’s arrival at Shawnee Park. On Friday the Xenia Merchants are still working on plans for a historic walking tour of the downtown area. Also on the agenda is a possible Christmas Choir event at The Cavern. Merchants will be open late hours and featuring seasonal specials. There will be an auction of holiday wreaths to support Xenia’s Community Theater, X*ACT.

On Saturday all of Xenia’s Hometown merchants will be having a Holiday Open House with tours, snacks, crafts, music and specials. Again this year we will have horses and carriages making short tours of the city for a nominal fee. A large horse drawn wagon will also take families between destinations in town and in the Kennedy Korners area for free. Carolers and choirs are being encouraged to come to town and perform for your friends. There will be free music in the afternoon and evening at Xenia Towne Square and Santa will arrive at 5 PM to light the tree listen to some Christmas wishes and pass out some candy canes.

XAMA is searching for church choirs, barbershop quartets, acoustic musicians, carolers, and any other creative individuals to contribute their talents and enthusiasm to this project. Opportunities will be available to perform throughout the weekend. Business Sponsors are also being solicited. Last year over 30 local businesses, non-profits, banks, and individuals contributed their time and money towards the success of Hometown Christmas. The Hometown Christmas Committee has determined that a suggested a donation of $100 to Hometown Christmas per sponsor will be needed to conduct this year’s event. Sponsorship of individual events such as the carriage rides or music are also being solicited. In addition, sponsors and XAMA members will be eligible to share in steeply reduced advertising preceding the event. For information about participation or sponsorship, please contact the Xenia Merchants at xeniamerchants@sbcglobal.net or Carolyn Archer (937-620-5017) at C J’s Boutique, 72 S. Detroit Street, Xenia, Ohio 45385.

XAMA’s Hometown Christmas Committee Meeting Changed to Oct. 15 6:15PM

The XAMA’s Hometown Christmas Committee Meeting has changed. It is being held at 6:15pm today Oct. 15 at the Oasis Cafe.

XAMA Coffee Klatch Thurs. Aug. 7 @ 8 AM

The Xenia Area Merchants Association will meet for coffee and conversation next Thursday (Aug 7) at 8-9 AM at Express Yourself Coffeehouse Gallery, 78 East Main St.

The rumor going around is that the business folks will be discussing local development grants, the up-and-coming Railfest, promotions for local patrons (not saints but consumers), and maybe even Christmas. And someday, they may even offer coupons on on their website at www.xama.com. That is a hint to any merchant who may be reading this post. But, you know how unreliable rumors are.

So maybe you ought to pay XAMA a visit Thurs morning and find out for yourself.