Tag Archives: Christmas

Mary Pondered, Do You?

“Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart (Luke 2:19 ESV).

Several times in the Gospels we read that Mary pondered things in her heart. What in the world were the “things” Mary pondered on or about the first Christmas?  Unlike 21st century Christmas, Mary’s “things” weren’t newly bought, she wasn’t concerned about returning them, or giving them to Goodwill.  Mary didn’t ponder how to make January charge cards payments.

The liturgical Christmas is a twelve-day season beginning with the celebration of Christmas Day on December 25 and continues through January 5. These 12 days are a gift Father God provides for us to ponder, to think about, what is important and to discount, or not think about, what isn’t important. Now, the halls are decked, gifts exchanged, and most parties over.

Mary completed an 80-mile journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem, delivered her first-born son in a barn, and showed him to shepherds who stopped by. If Mary had time to ponder events surrounding Jesus birth, do we have any excuse for doing less? During the 12 days of Christmas, focus your mind on pondering what it means for God to come to earth and into your life. Take time to recognize and ponder the “good news of great joy that will be for all the people” Luke 2:10 ESV).

As you sit beside the Christmas tree, consider that Jesus is the light of the world, consuming all the world’s darkness. What darkness has been allowed to creep into your thoughts and actions this year, seeking to consume your soul?  Where is Christ leading you to be light in the world in the new year? Do the gifts you share lead others to eternal treasure?

Reflection: In many churches, the church office is closed Christmas eve through the day after New Year’s Day. Perhaps, even liturgical churches export a message that Christmas is a day rather than a season.

*Written by Denise May, St. John Lutheran Church, Roanoke, Virginia.

What Happen on Christmas?

In the Children’s Sermon at Christmas, Pastor Mark asked the children “What is going to happen at Christmas?” A child responded, “Baby Jesus is coming down the chimney.” Well …. he was half correct.

Christmas has several names to include Christmastide, the Christmas season, the Nativity, and Twelvetide. Although individuals in westernized countries often equate Christmas with December 25, Christmas is a season in the liturgical calendar of most Christian churches. The season of Christmas begins at sunset on December 24 and ends at sunset on January 5, thus, lasting 12 days. The Advent season precedes the Christmas season and the Epiphany season follows it. Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Jesus, that is, when God became human (incarnate) in the person of Mary’s son, Jesus.

The basis for the feast of Jesus’ birth (Christmas) is the infancy stories in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. In chapter 1 of his gospel, Matthew outlined the human genealogy of Jesus and the announcement of the birth of Jesus to both Mary and Joseph. In chapter 2, he recorded the visit of the wise men to the Holy Family and their flight to Egypt. Chapters 1 and 2 of the gospel of Luke provides information about the angel, Gabriel, announcing the birth of Jesus to his mother and include events surrounding Jesus’s birth in Bethlehem.

Not until the third century after Jesus’ death did Christians begin to celebrate December 25 as his birthday; but, by the fourth century, celebrating Jesus’ birth on December 25 spread throughout the church. Almost-universal celebrations included singing carols, feasting, giving gifts, time away from jobs, and attending church services

With the Protestant Reformation, Christmas as a celebratory time changed. The most significant changes occurred in England and north-eastern United States. Many Protestant reformers rejected Christmas. Particularly, English Puritans were hostile to Christmas celebrations and tried to suppress them. During the brief Calvinist reign in England, parliament forbade the celebration of Christmas. In America, Christmas was outlawed or criminalized in Puritan states, i.e., until the 1830s anyone in Massachusetts who missed school or work on December 25th was subject to a fine. With the exception of Catholics, Anglicans, and Lutherans, religious and even secular Christmas celebrations were rare in colonial United States.

In contemporary United States, some church denominations orient members away from ostentations Christmas gaiety to the original purpose of Christmas as the time of Jesus’ birth. Currently, in the United State there is controversy on whether or not to wish others a “Merry Christmas.” When American wish each other a Merry Christmas, mostly we mean “have a happy day and dinner.”  Originally, Merry Christmas has a different meaning. Traditionally, “Merry” meant “peaceful or blessed” rather than a jocular, gay, or happy. Merry is an adjective for heavenly serenity, not earthly mirth.

Reflection: Where do you put your focus and energies during Christmas time? As you happy with how your energy is spent. Do you anticipate making any changes?

Christmas: Always New

Top aglaonema

The aglaonema (Chinese evergreen, Firecracker) is a newish Christmas plant and an alternative to the poinsettia. It is less woody than the poinsettia and doesn’t have flowers; however, it is almost as colorful. Although there are over 40 types of aglaonema, red aglaonema is seen during the Christmas season. Red aglaonema’s foliage lasts longer than the typical poinsettia. 2014 was the first time, I saw aglaonema sold in nurseries in the Roanoke area. It was even sold in K-mart and Lowes.

Meaning of Aglaonema

Traditionally, aglaonema is associated with good luck or something auspicious. The whole idea of luck troubles me. I couldn’t find the word “luck’ in the Bible, in Strong’s (2010) Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, or in Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary (2011). Luck is ancient pagan concept. For me to say “Good Luck” to someone is denying that God is in control of their lives and they have to rely on capricious Lady Luck, whoever that is.

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Don’t refuse to purchase and enjoy a plant because superstitious individuals associate the plant with some idea or concept, e.g., luck, triumph, love. Buy it, and praise the Creator for the plant’s beauty.

Care for Aglaonema

If you purchase an aglaonema, don’t put it in direct sunlight. Rather, place it 6-10 feet from a window or glass door. It needs only 1-3 hours of indirect sunlight a day. Some nurseries identified that aglaonemas were a good plant to place in an internal room, e.g., a bathroom or study because plants preferred low-level lighting. Water aglaonema when the soil is dry when you touch it with your finger. Never let aglaonema stand in water or dry out completely. Feed the plant about every two weeks to keep it looking optimal. Aglaonema doesn’t tolerate a temperature of less than 50 degrees Fahrenheit. You can set it out in a shaded area in the summer and in very warm climates plant it outdoors. USDA shows the plant as growing year around only in Florida.

Reflection: Consciously, I have tried to omit the words “good luck” from my vocabulary. Words that I substituted are “best wishes,” and “blessed.” Think about and respond to this blog with Godly hope/wishes to substitute in place of “good luck.”

I love Bible plants along with their symbolism. If you want to learn more about them, read my two books: 1) Rooted in God and 2) God as a Gardener. You can purchase them from my website: Carolyn Roth Ministry at http://www.CarolynRothMinistry.com/

Copyright: December 27, 2014, Carolyn A. Roth, All rights reserved.

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Advent is Approaching

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The Lord will indeed give what is good, and our land will yield its harvest. Righteousness goes before him and prepares the way for his steps.  Psalm 85:12-13 (NIV)

Advent started on November 27, 2016. From now until 25 December, we prepare for the birth of Christ.  Advent is a season of hope filled waiting. We are waiting for God’s intervention in our land; we are waiting for God to give what is good. The recent horrific events that have occurred in our nation are a prayer point that God is preparing our nation for righteousness. May our prayers be filled with hope filled waiting as our society continues to face the reality of sin. God is preparing the way for his steps (David Whitehead).

The Amaryllis has become a popular Christmas flower, offered for sale in all the catalogs and stores. Interestingly, I buy them but they rarely flower until January. Perhaps that’s what is to occur — we wait for the flower to bloom as we wait for the birth of Christ.

Amaryllis is showy and brilliant and puts plants with only green foliage to shame; but they should never be ashamed.  After all, Christ was described as having no physical beauty. Plants with only, or mostly, green foliage have great value. It is the green-foliage in plants that gives oxygen into the atmosphere and adds appreciable to the pleasing environment of our homes.

By the Way: If you are growing amaryllis, be sure not to let the water level go above the top of the root bulb. I’m sure  there is a lesson in Christian living in that; such as don’t drown when you can walk on water with Christ.

As we walk for Christ in 21st century, most of us aren’t showy or even brilliant; we tend to be more quiet and  simple  as we live each day. That doesn’t make us less valuable, it just makes us what we are: a Christian who does his or her part daily for Christ. We raise children in a Christian home, we are a witness in the workplace, we let a driver into the traffic lane in front of us.

Reflection: Perhaps it is more important to walk day-by-day, year-after-year for Christ than  have a brilliant flare.

I love Bible plants along with their symbolism. If you want to learn more about them, read my two books: 1) Rooted in God and 2) God as a Gardener. You can purchase them from my website: Carolyn Roth Ministry at http://www.CarolynRothMinistry.com/

Copyright: Carolyn A. Roth, 2/14, Updated 11/28/16

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