Sunday, December 27, 2009

The 12th Month has much to Celebrate (c4p5)

Merry Messiah-mas! - This morning and afternoon, our family enjoyed:
  • watching the falling snow as it joined the 6 inches that accumulated overnight, 
  • seeing the white lights that spiral down the banister of our stairway,
  • observing the ornaments that chronicle our family’s history on the Christmas tree, 
  • opening with gusto the gifts under the tree, and finally 
  • partaking in the fellowship of our afternoon meal. 
Across our mantle the Nativity scene reminds us of the central theme of this holiday.
There are some who have studied the background of Christmas and have trouble with the idea of observing it. There are historical issues, questionable traditions, and the commercialization that has taken center stage.  While the idea of the Messiah was planned before the world was made, its promise was uttered the minute Satan stepped into the picture, and the particulars of its place, time, and political context were prophesied throughout the "Old Testament", the placement of it on the crocheted calendar that Luther received from his room was on the twelfth month. In the second century BC, Hannukah began on the 25th day of the 12th month, according to the Jewish calendar.  400 years later, when the Catholic church attempted to replace the pagan holiday of Saturnalia  with a new holiday called "Christmas" they chose the 25th day of the 12th month on the Julian calendar for its observance. While this was partly because Saturnalia occurred in December, the actual day may have been chosen as a replacement for Hannukah, since the church was in the process of reinterpreting itself as the replacement for Israel.  While there are questionable influences in the traditions of Christmas and Easter, I keep what is good and discard what is bad and concentrate on its real meaning. 

I do not have a concern with adding celebrations, but I do have a problem with taking Biblical ones away or ignoring them. For example, Purim and Hannukah are not part of the seven festivals in Leviticus; but they do supplement the enfolding story of redemption. They are part of the commonwealth of Israel that Jesus and the early church celebrated. 
In Ephesians 2:11-13 (NKJV), it says:
"Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh--who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands--that at that time you were without [Messiah], being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in [Yeshua the Messiah] you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of [Messiah]."
As a believing Gentile that has been grafted into the olive tree of Israel, I am part of its commonwealth and a member of the covenant of promise. Because of this connection, I have hope through the God of Israel, who expresses Himself to us  as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. As a Gentile, I have no covenant of promise, but Israel does. Through faith I have been grafted into Israel’s covenant. I’ll look at that more next time. 

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