Dwight Watt Internet Article #77

#77 - Christmas 2001 12/25/2001

#77 - Christmas 2001

Good morning. Today is December 25th, the day that most non-Orthodox Christians around the world celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. The Orthodox Christians celebrate it on a later date. Although it may not be exactly 2001 years since his earthly birth it is close and what is a few days or years over 2000 years. We are reminded again this year, especially in the USA and Afghanistan what the Angels proclaimed that night 2000 years ago and that was "Peace on Earth for All men". That is the fervent prayer of the people of the earth once again. Not so different from 2000 years ago when the Jewish people were trying to throw off the wrath of Rome and were living in a military atmosphere.

Was Jesus really born on December 25? Probably not. But we have no idea exactly when he was born so any date works. We do know what year, by the accounts in the Bible but the Roman histories leave some unclearness, as we know it was when they registered to be taxpayers (not to the IRS, but the Roman government). We can safely say it was within about 3 years of where we measure the AD/BC divide. Except for a small number of people Jesus' birth was not significant, and like most people of that time, he probably did not know his real age. In some parts of the world that is still true, and even with some older people in the USA.

There have been news stories in the last week challenging his birth in Bethlehem because he was known as Jesus of Nazareth. I think both information in the Bible is true. You are usually not known as so and so from you are a native unless you grew up there. You are know as so and so from a certain place by where you either grew up or have lived large part of your life. So Jesus was born in Bethlehem. He then remained only hours there before heading back to Nazareth by way of Egypt. He grew up in Nazareth and worked there. I was born in Washington DC, but I never have heard me refereed to as Dwight of Washington. No w I have heard me called Dwight of Vienna and Dwight of Swainsboro, the first where I grew up and the second where I have lived for twenty years.

Should we celebrate Christmas? Yes. It shows we celebrate a living Savior. Ours is a living faith. We don't celebrate his death, but his birth and his rising from the dead. Different that other peoples. People have become concerned about how we celebrate it. Most of the things we do have significance back to Christ's life and his example for us. We give gifts at Christmas in honor of God giving Jesus. We use evergreens as tree and decorations in the season to show everlasting. Yes the tree may have also been used by the heathen worshipers, but we have developed it further as Christian symbol. Santa Claus has developed from a real Christian Saint, St. Nicholas, who gave items to poor children. Too often we let that disappear in Santa Claus. It becomes what am I getting, instead of what am I giving.

The lights at Christmas show us the light that came in the world. The colorful lights give a more festive face to Christmas, but the white ones show bright lights to the future. On the roadways we have had to go to white, as the red, yellow and green were not safe. I remember how they used to stretch them across the streets when I was small, but even then I wondered how do you know which is decoration and which to stop.

We tolerate other religions in the USA and allow each to worship. Our founders had come up in a society where if you were not a member of the Church of England you had no standing in society and politics. Accordingly they wrote in the Bill of Rights a freedom of religion clause. They did not just say freedom of Christian belief, but religion. This does not mean that Christians should not reach out to non-Christians, that is the Christian's mission. If you want to see a society similar to our founders fears and experiences, look at Taliban Afghanistan, or to the many Catholic South American nations.

Look around today and give God thanks for what you have. Some have more, some less, but we are all blessed. If you did not give someone something today, reach out and give. It doesn't have to cost. Call a friend, visit a friend, pray for someone. Go out and play with a child and remember the spirit of receiving today.

Merry Christmas and Peace on Earth for All Mankind!


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