Keeping Christmas in Perspective

I feel sometimes people fight all the wrong battles. 

People arguing about Happy Holidays over Merry Christmas especially. They have grown so overblown that it become irrelevant from its true rooting in Christ’s birth. Merry Christmas is in the larger scheme of things only a small part of what Christmas is. Is Christ diminished if we do not wish people Merry Christmas, or is Christ more manifested in other places? In other words, is this the Gospel? I am convinced if we continue to fight these meaningless battles, and all we are seen fighting is over these things, it begins to define us. And I am sure the Devil would be glad to see us fight over these little things instead of fighting for the sake of the Gospel.

People often say that the Devil is so successful because people don’t believe he exists, but equally dangerous is to believe he exists but not to destroy the work of the Gospel.

I think people fight for too little if they are fighting to maintain a Christmas story, without looking at the larger picture. The Christmas story  can sometimes be so deeply entrenched in tradition that we can almost become lethargic in how we carry it on. Then perhaps, it becomes almost acceptable for non-believers to treat Christianity as nothing more than tradition of a time long ago. People often complain that Christianity is not relevant enough, and this is true because we aren’t living and engaging actively with the complete story of Christmas.

Christmas is more than just a merry time and a feel-good nativity story, it is more than a woman giving birth to a child in a manger.

 

“If you pour yourself out for the hungry
and satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
then shall your light rise in the darkness
and your gloom be as the noonday.
” Isaiah 58:10 (English Standard Version)

Have been diminished the power of Christmas that it is merely a time of the year, but a daily reality and sanctification?

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Remembering the Anointed One

Since it’s getting to Christmas almost, I thought I should start writing some Christmas themed posts.

“But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me.” Mark 14:6 (English Standard Version)

Christmas is the remembrance of the birth of Jesus in a manger in Bethlehem. The name, Christmas, being derived from the Christ, a name of Jesus meaning “the anointed one”.

In the Old Testament, anointing was important for many leaders of Israel. David was found by Samuel and immediately anointed, Solomon was anointed by the priest Zadok in his inauguration before whole nation of Israel. “The specific practice of anointing by pouring oil on the head was used as asymbolic act for officially, designating and setting apart a person for a certain, public,leadership function in the community.” (source) All throughout the Old Testament, there were only three groups of people that were anointed: priests, prophets and kings. The Old Testament dictates that anointing someone involves pouring oil over the head of the one concerned, perhaps not unintentionally similar to the act of cleansing. The aim of anointing giving to the one anointed power, strength, or majesty.

In Christmas, we are remembering someone who was anointed by God, his holy oil poured on his head. But mankind only put a crown of thorns on his head, and killed him on a cross. Only once was Jesus anointed on earth, by a poor woman in the Gospel of Mark. Jesus was eating at the house of a leper, his name was Simon. The unnamed woman opened an alabaster flask pouring it over her head. She was no Levite, her anointing meant nothing, at his feet and she wiped them with her tears.

She was one who had sinned all her life, but she came with a great gift, and put it on his feet. To put the bottle of alabaster in context, a denarii was the pay for a day’s wages to a Roman soldier and the bottle was worth 300 denariis. The disciples naturally were vicious towards her, asking why she didn’t sell the bottle and give the money to the poor. But Jesus defends her, that he would not be with them always, but the poor shall be.

“She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. “And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.” Mark 14:8-9 (English Standard Version)

This event occurs close to the end of his life, he knew that the end was coming where Judas betray him and hand him over to the authorities. Everything he said was a reference to his coming death, he states that she will be told in memory of him. His humility and shame in dying on the cross, is mirrored clearly her through the undying devotion, and total sacrifice of her heart to Jesus.

And through this birth of Jesus Christ, no longer was anointing for only those who were of the tribe of Levi, or kings of Israel even only those prophets which preached God’s Word. But now, even to the poorest of women and the tax collectors, they could be anointed and even that be received as children of God. Jesus was born so we could be anointed, and be cleansed and restored to our original state. “And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us” (2 Corinthians 1v.21)

*note some other gospels give a different account especially john which gives the woman the name, Mary, who is presumably sister of Lazarus. there is a bit of debate among scholars whether the accounts are related and if the two stories refer to the same event.