Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas Season

Thanksgiving is the most celebrated holiday, BUT Christmas is the most loved holiday.
AND, what we love and enjoy, we want to last!

So... 1)  Advent = the 4 weeks leading up to Christmas.
        2)  Christmas Eve, Christmas Day
Then it's over, unless you recognize
Aka:  the 12 days of Christmas - recognition of what God has done through Christ
-- in the west - Dec. 26 - Jan. 6, the last night being "12th. night" - which is the end of Christmas festivities

So...... gift each day for 12 days!!! - Song:  "Twelve Days of Christmas" - 1st. published in 1780 in England, the origin is unknown and there are many variations.

During the 12 days are several notable 'feasts' (ie:  holy days, days of commemoration)
these are designed to 1) commemorate persons or events to 2)  inspire us

Today - will review 3 feast days.
I.  The feast of Stephen
II.  Epiphany
III.  The feast of Innocents

I.  The Feast of Stephen  (St. Stephen's Day) - Dec. 26th.
Stephen was:  A)  the deacon - Acts 6:1-5
                      B)  the witness - Acts 6:8-10
                     C)  the martyr - Acts 6:11-23, 7:54-58

Stephen was the 1st. Christian martyr - so Dec. 26th. = day of distribution to the poor (giving day)
The song:  "Good King Wensaslas" - story of Feast of Stephen
The moral/point - last 4 lines of the song:
"Therefore, Christian men, be sure, wealth of rank possessing, Ye who now will bless the poor, shall yourselves find blessing."  Prov. 19:17
(note:  effect of Stephen's witness??  Acts 7:58 - 8:1  Point being:  our good deeds/lifestyle are an essential part of witness.

II.  Epiphany - last day - Jan. 6th.   Definition of epiphany = a manifestation, a striking appearance
(west)  A.)  the Coming of the Magi
           B.)  the revelation of the Christ to the Gentiles  Matt. 2:1-12 - priestly caste of scholars - astrologers - "magicians"
Point:  He is the light of the world and WE are to hold forth that light!!

III.  The Feast of the Innocents - Matt. 2:13-21
Estimated number of young children killed - around 20 - 1st. Christian martyrs??  they were killed because of the testimony of the Magi
This is also called "Childermas"

Remember:  Christmas is not all about peace, joy, celebration, etc.
It is also about sin, sorrow, grief, evil, spiritual warfare - Rev. 12:1-17, 13:9-10
When Christ came into the world, Satan and forces of evil were not happy.
The battle is not over.  Peace has not arrived.  Calls for great perseverance on our part. 

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