Friday, December 30, 2011

Symbol, or the real thing?

Recently posted a blog “Ichthus again”, about the Fish symbol within Christianity and received the following comment: “Okay Walter, I like the idea of the fish symbol and I knew it's origin but I have to say, I REALLY cannot stand doves. I know that the dove represents the Holy Spirit but I HATE dove stickers on cars. Maybe my aversion to dove sticker/ornaments is because of the Roman Catholic connection.”
I don’t personally have any problem with the Dove symbol, but the above comments did lead me to thinking both about the symbol of the Dove and also about the dangers of symbolism in general.
Don’t get me wrong here. I am a strong believer in Symbolism, but we always need to remember that it is just that: a symbol and meant to focus our thoughts on the real thing and not become a focus in its own right.
Becoming a Christian as an adult and not coming from a strong Denominational background, I was hardly aware of the Dove as a symbol of the Holy Spirit. I guess I was aware of it, but as the dove has so become the symbol for peace these days, I never really picked up on its spiritual connection to the Holy Spirit.
And that is the real danger of Symbolism; the danger is that symbols mean different things to different people and, unlike my friend above who grew up within a spiritual home, where the dove has a spiritual connection and connotation, like me, most people today, have also lost that spiritual symbolism and see it purely as a symbol of peace and also the Peace movement.
Something similar has happened to Christmas. Where all the symbols now added to Christmas (Such as the tree and lights and decorations and especially Santa,) Have taken the focus almost completely off of Christ as the Son of God who came to live and die as a Human and thereby taking on humankind’s sins and atoning for and paying the penalty for, for all time.
So today, whatever the symbol, whether it be a Dove, a Christmas Tree, Santa , or anything else, please keep your focus on what the symbol represents and not on the actual symbol itself. TOWGP.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

When you should take your Christmas decorations down?

A couple of years back, I asked on this forum, the question, “When do you take your Christmas decorations down?” I asked this question because there were a lot of differing opinions floating around. And after I asked the question, I received even more opinions too. Some I liked and will include here. Such as:
Well, traditionally they are supposed to stay up until January 6th, being that is the 12th day of Christmas... (Christmas day is the 1st day). I usually leave them up until the 8th, my birthday then take them down... if I can stand it. I took them down this year on Monday the 4th, because I couldn't stand having them out any longer... I have way too many Christmas decorations! :) I feel as long as you wait til Boxing Day to take them down that is okay. They really don't need to stay up when Christmas is over.
Take care!! ******
Or: Some people say 6 January is the day because it's Epiphany or Twelfth Night, when the wise men visited Jesus two years after He was born. My mother said 1 January because she had had enough of them hanging around, so that's when we did it when I was growing up!” *****
Or: “We have just recently had this discussion with our friends as they were dismayed as I had already packed all of our Christmas things & tree away on New Years eve as I usually do.
Their comment was it stays up until the 6th Jan, 12th night as an old English tradition.
Well I thought we followed a Basic English tradition Christmas in our growing up years and I don't remember that part. The tree usually came down when it was dead and passed being nice.
Our own tradition here as we have an everlasting tree, is it goes up on the first of December and down on the last day of the year.
Depending on the day and who is home the tree has gone up the day before, decorated, except for the Peak [Dutch tradition] which only goes up on the 1st. Our own tradition is to decorate it as a family, and who ever helps to pull it down gets a chocy! *****
Or: Walter I myself am so challenged by the fact that it’s over so quick so I still have my tree up. Will take it down this weekend. Many blessings: ***
Or; I was thinking and came up with a theory about the two weeks before and two weeks after, plus your 6th January recommendation. The 6th of January is the 12th day after Christmas (counting Boxing Day as day number 1). So maybe the correct thing is to put it up 12 days before Christmas and take it down 12 days after - something to do with the twelve days of Christmas. And then the two week thing that I was thinking of, is just an approximation/generalisation - two weeks, 14 days, is close to 12 days. *****
Or: Morning Walter, I have always been told the 7th Jan is the last day to take down Christmas Decorations. ****-****
Or: “We had a good Christmas with all the family here for lunch and some of them stayed overnight.
The comment must have got lost. We always take our decorations down on 6th January because it's Twelfth Night and that's when my family have always taken them down. It's nice to have a fixed date then there are no arguments about letting them stay up longer. All the best for the New Year, *&*
So it seems that traditionally it was the 6th of January, or when the tree starts to get too tatty, if it is a real one. However one last opinion before we finally put this matter to rest
The following is from Wikipedia. Where it says:
: January 6th is Three Kings Day. It is the beginning of Epiphany -- The celebration of the Jesus public appearance in the world. So Christmas is over. After Epiphany would be Lent and so on in the Church calendar.
So Jan 6th is the end of the celebration of Christmas and so the decorations go down. Christmas starts several (4) weeks before the 25 with the lighting of the candles in the Advent wreath.
So there we have it my friends: While some people take their tree and decorations down early for aesthetics or convenience, the Official Date is the 6th of January and the day of the Epiphany! (The twelfth Day of Christmas! But that’s for another day and another blog. TOWGP.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Meaning behind the song, the Twelve Days of Christmas.

Now I am sure we have all heard many, many times the Song “the twelve days of Christmas’ and especially at this time of year too. But do you know what the alluded significance behind these words is? I have blogged elsewhere when the twelve days of Christmas are, but here in this song the gifts on each of the twelve days has a specific, even if hidden meaning to the those in the know.
So the following which I have taken off the net, will explain the significants and Christian meaning behind the song and its lyrics. It is said that the song was composed and originally sung when some Christian thoughts were not popular with the ruling authorities.
Whatever and anyway, here is the Christian significant in and behind the song, the twelve Days of Christmas.
“On the 1st day of Christmas my true love gave to me...A Partridge in a Pear Tree
The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus the Christ, the Son of God, whose birthday we celebrate on December 25, the first day of Christmas. In the song, Christ is symbolically presented as a mother partridge that feigns injury to decoy predators from her helpless nestlings, recalling the expression of Christ's sadness over the fate of Jerusalem: "Jerusalem! Jerusalem! How often would I have sheltered you under my wings, as a hen does her chicks, but you would not have it so . . . ." (Luke 13:34)
On the 2nd day of Christmas my true love gave to me...Two Turtle Doves
The Old and New Testaments, which together bear witness to God's self-revelation in history and the creation of a people to tell the Story of God to the world.
On the 3rd day of Christmas my true love gave to me...Three French Hens
The Three Theological Virtues: 1) Faith, 2) Hope, and 3) Love (1 Corinthians 13:13)
On the 4th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...Four Calling Birds
The Four Gospels: 1) Matthew, 2) Mark, 3) Luke, and 4) John, which proclaim the Good News of God's reconciliation of the world to Himself in Jesus Christ.
On the 5th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...Five Gold Rings
The first Five Books of the Old Testament, known as the Torah or the Pentateuch: 1) Genesis, 2) Exodus, 3) Leviticus, 4) Numbers, and 5) Deuteronomy, which gives the history of humanity's sinful failure and God's response of grace in the creation of a people to be a light to the world.
On the 6th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...Six Geese A-laying
The six days of creation that confesses God as Creator and Sustainer of the world (Genesis 1).
On the 7th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...Seven Swans A-swimming
The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: 1) prophecy, 2) ministry, 3) teaching, 4) exhortation, 5) giving, 6) leading, and 7) compassion (Romans 12:6-8; cf. 1 Corinthians 12:8-11)
On the 8th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...Eight Maids A-milking
The eight Beatitudes: 1) Blessed are the poor in spirit, 2) those who mourn, 3) the meek, 4) those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, 5) the merciful, 6) the pure in heart, 7) the peacemakers, 8) those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake. (Matthew 5:3-10)
On the 9th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...Nine Ladies Dancing
The nine Fruit of the Holy Spirit: 1) love, 2) joy, 3) peace, 4) patience, 5) kindness,
6) generosity, 7) faithfulness, 8) gentleness, and 9) self-control. (Galatians 5:22)
On the 10th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...Ten Lords A-leaping
The ten commandments: 1) You shall have no other gods before me; 2) Do not make an idol; 3) Do not take God's name in vain; 4) Remember the Sabbath Day; 5) Honor your father and mother; 6) Do not murder; 7) Do not commit adultery; 8) Do not steal; 9) Do not bear false witness; 10) Do not covet. (Exodus 20:1-17)
On the 11th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...Eleven Pipers Piping
The eleven Faithful Apostles: 1) Simon Peter, 2) Andrew, 3) James, 4) John, 5) Philip, 6) Bartholomew, 7) Matthew, 8) Thomas, 9) James bar Alphaeus, 10) Simon the Zealot, 11) Judas bar James. (Luke 6:14-16). The list does not include the twelfth disciple, Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus to the religious leaders and the Romans.
On the 12th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...Twelve Drummers Drumming
The twelve points of doctrine in the Apostles' Creed: 1) I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. 2) I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. 3) He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. 4) He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell [the grave]. 5) On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. 6) He will come again to judge the living and the dead. 7) I believe in the Holy Spirit, 8) the holy catholic Church, 9) the communion of saints, 10) the forgiveness of sins, 11) the resurrection of the body, 12) and life everlasting.”
Well I found the above interesting. Hope you did too. If not please let me know.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Does everyone expect you to be a Santa too?

In this old “For Better or For Worse” comic Strip by Lynn Johnston, from 20/12/09, she has the mother and her two young children walking down a street at Christmas time and in the first 3 panels, while at different locations, there is a Santa clause in each one. As also in the 4th panel, where the young son turns to his mother and asks: “Mom? How come there are so many Santas?” “We saw one in the Mall, an’ one on the street an’ now this one here!” To which his mum replies, “Maybe they’re ALL Santa Claus! To which her son replies: “Is that even Possible?!” To which mum replies “Sure!” Before going onto add, “The job of being a Santa is pretty special … It’s just like the job of being a mum!” Then adds under her breath, “Everyone expects you to do everything and be everywhere at the same time!!!!”
Sad but true isn’t it? And not just with mothers either. Sometimes, people treat us like Santa and expect us to do everything, be everywhere and give them exactly what they want, and when they want it too!
Of course if you have ever been in that situation, you will know that eventually it becomes unsustainable and you just burn out. So if you are currently in that situation and it looks like lasting even though you know you can’t, you need to just stop and re-evaluate things. This may mean, not taking on anymore tasks until you have relief or finish with the tasks you already have. It may mean delegating some or many tasks to others. Or it may mean simply dropping some tasks completely. At its most extreme, it may even mean changing jobs, if the situation can’t or won’t be changed. The end result is of course in your hands and you have to make the choice based on both what you can do and what is best for all concerned.
By all means, be a Santa when you can, but don’t ruin your health or your life doing it. Remember Santa is only Santa at Christmas time and has a break for the rest of the year! So maybe, just maybe, you need a regular break too! Maybe not as long as Santa’s but a good one nonetheless! Again over to you now.
P.S. If you don’t like being treated like a Santa, spare a thought for others too, and don’t treat them like Santas either!