The Rise of the Celebration of Christmas, Part 3 (TMF:SE23)

Peace to Live By: The Rise of the Celebration of Christmas, Part 3 (TMF:SE23) - Daniel Litton
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       So, Christmas, still yet, wasn’t in full bloom even by the close of the 1700s. Christmas started to settle into the American culture in a more dominate fashion by the early 1800s. It’s here that we start to see the outcropping of church services on Christmas Day throughout America (Nissenbaum, pp. 45-47). The old Puritan way of ignoring or shunning Christmas was seeming to fall by the wayside. It is also during this time of the early 1800s that we see the beginnings of Santa Claus. Now, in fact, during this time some Christians celebrated St. Nicholas Day (as some even still celebrate it today), and this involved Santa, as we call him today, giving to children (Nissenbaum, pp. 73, 74, 78). This day took place on December 6, however. Nonetheless, by 1821, we read of Christmas being celebrated on December 24th and 25th, but it was meant to be sort of a children’s version of an adults Judgement Day. The point was to emphasize to children the importance of doing right in this life.

Reference
Nissenbaum, Stephen. (1996). The Battle for Christmas. New York: Vintage Books.

The Rise of the Celebration of Christmas, Part 2 (TMF:SE22)

Peace to Live By: The Rise of the Celebration of Christmas, Part 2 (TMF:SE22) - Daniel Litton
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       Present giving really wasn’t present during Washington’s time, nor was the celebration of Christmas in the form of any special meals or food, yet Christmas had made its way into church hymnals during his time (Nissenbaum, pp. 30, 31, 33). Of important note, though, is that late December during the time of the latter 1700s was one of rest and making special foods anyway, as many were resting from their harvest work that had just taken place a short period of time earlier. So, while some were if fact taking time off of work, it wasn’t for Christmas. And while some special foods were made in regard to the season, like mince pies, these foods would have been made anyway due to the fact of what time of year it was. But, we do, on the other hand, see that Christmas hymns had been added to church hymnals in the Colonies by the 1750s. So, it is clear that at least some churches celebrated Christmas by singing hymns to some extent. One minister, in his diary in 1749, actually expressed that he wished people took greater notice of Christmas—that people would care to celebrate it more (Nissenbaum, p. 37).

Reference
Nissenbaum, Stephen. (1996). The Battle for Christmas. New York: Vintage Books.

The Rise of the Celebration of Christmas, Part 1 (TMF:SE21)

Peace to Live By: The Rise of the Celebration of Christmas, Part 1 (TMF:SE21) - Daniel Litton
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       During the time of the latter 1700s was when Christmas started to become popular in American society, which interestingly enough, is during the times of the American Revolution (Nissenbaum, p. 26). Even during this time, however, it is clear that Christmas was not so seriously celebrated as we as Americans celebrate it in this day and age. Most people still worked on Christmas back then, carrying out life as usual with no stopping for celebration. It was more like what we see as Independence Day, where, if it falls on a workday, many people will still work, though some take the day off. I know a lot of people enjoy having Christmas off, and most people do have it off, but even today there are still some of us who have to work, and we work Christmas Day as if it’s any other day. So, be grateful for what you have when you are off on Christmas, when you get to spend time with your family and exchange gifts. Don’t take that for granted but cherish every moment of it.

Reference
Nissenbaum, Stephen. (1996). The Battle for Christmas. New York: Vintage Books.

The History of the Christmas Festive Atmosphere (TMF:SE20)

Peace to Live By: The History of the Christmas Festive Atmosphere (TMF:SE20) - Daniel Litton
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       It certainly is true that the festive atmosphere surrounding Christmas—the ornaments of Christmas lights and candles, mistletoes, and even the Christmas tree—these things in and of themselves are rooted in pagan (non-Christian) traditions, or cultural traditions, and really have no connection to the birth of Christ (Nissenbaum, p. 5). Nonetheless, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the partaking or celebrating of Christmas with these kinds of items is wrong. Truly, again, it’s the heart attitude that counts. If we use these items to celebrate Christmas, and do it unto the Lord, we are in the right. I think most people don’t even know why they celebrate Christmas with these things, besides the fact that maybe it is because they were raised to do that, or because that’s what everyone else around them does. But I think a lot of people have these decorations because they want to honor Christ; they really want to celebrate and remember what God has done for us, and for the whole world. And these items bring in the mood and expression of that.

Reference
Nissenbaum, Stephen. (1996). The Battle for Christmas. New York: Vintage Books.

Observing Christmas Day in Honor of the Lord (TMF:SE19)

Peace to Live By: Observing Christmas Day in Honor of the Lord (TMF:SE19) - Daniel Litton
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       Whosoever would want to celebrate Christmas is in the right, so long as one has the right attitude toward it. And, likewise, whosoever doesn’t want to celebrate it either would not be in the wrong. Turn over to Romans chapter 14. Let’s look a passage here. The Apostle Paul states: “One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s” (Romans 14:5-8, ESV). So, then, it’s important for us to remind ourselves of God’s truth behind Christmas when we celebrate it, when we give gifts to others, so that we we can observe Christmas Day in honor of the Lord.

History Behind the Celebration of Christmas, Part 2 (TMF:SE18)

Peace to Live By: History Behind the Celebration of Christmas, Part 2 (TMF:SE18) - Daniel Litton
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       An excellent read about the history of Christmas, and particularly the American history, is a book titled ‘The Battle for Christmas’ by Stephen Nissenbaum. I recommend this book to anyone to read. We know that Christmas, as a holiday, originally became a reality in the fourth century (Nissenbaum, 1996, p. 4). This is when the Christian church decided to recognize Christmas, and the day of celebration was placed on December 25, as this was around the period of time that the Winter season began. Now, here in America, the first Americans, the Pilgrims, who were Puritans, didn’t celebrate Christmas and in fact believed it to be a sin to do so. This is because in their eager legalism, they believed that since the date of December 25 for the birth of Christ doesn’t appear in the Bible, that it was wrong to therefore celebrate the holiday. While they were correct in stating that December 25 for the birth of Christ doesn’t appear in the Bible, I think what God really cares about here is the heart attitude we are displaying when we celebrate Christmas. We have made Christmas to be all out giving, and with that attitude, we are in the right.

Reference
Nissenbaum, Stephen. (1996). The Battle for Christmas. New York: Vintage Books.

History Behind the Celebration of Christmas, Part 1 (TMF:SE17)

Peace to Live By: History Behind the Celebration of Christmas, Part 1 (TMF:SE17) - Daniel Litton
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       We had separated ourselves from God by our sin, but Jesus makes possible a resorted relationship. Verse 17, in John chapter 3, states: “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him” (ESV). Anyone, then, who believes in Jesus for the forgiveness of sins can be saved from any of God’s wrath to come in the future. But before we touch on this a little more, while we are on the subject of history today, I thought it might be beneficial for us to understand some of the history behind the celebration of Christmas and especially in America. An excellent read about the history of Christmas, and particularly the American history, is a book titled ‘The Battle for Christmas’ by Stephen Nissenbaum. I recommend this book to anyone to read, and I will be relying on some of the author’s information today to carry us along through the American roots of Christmas. We know that Christmas, as a holiday, originally became a reality in the fourth century (Nissenbaum, 1996, p. 4).

Reference
Nissenbaum, Stephen. (1996). The Battle for Christmas. New York: Vintage Books.

Remembering the Real Meaning Behind Christmas (TMF:SE16)

Peace to Live By: Remembering the Real Meaning Behind Christmas (TMF:SE16) - Daniel Litton
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       It’s important for us to remember the real meaning behind Christmas, the most important gift given of all time, and this is the gift God gave to us, of his Son, whom he sent into the world to save us. This really is at the heart of our gift-giving, or it should be. Remember what the Apostle John has told us in his Gospel, the most famous verse of the whole Bible. You know it by heart. He said, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16, ESV). Yes, God loved the world then, some 2,000 years ago, and he loves the world today. He wants everyone to be in right relationship with him, and he, sending his Son into the world, made this possible. We had separated ourselves from God by our sin, but Jesus makes possible a resorted relationship. Verse 17, in John chapter 3, states: “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him” (ESV).

Intro to An American History of Christmastime (TMF:SE15)

Peace to Live By: Intro to An American History of Christmastime (TMF:SE15) - Daniel Litton
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       One of my favorite paintings of all time is the famous one of ‘Washington Crossing the Delaware.’ And, as most of us know, this crossing of the Delaware took place on Christmas Day Eve of 1776. Indeed, the year of 1776, while it was the year of the Declaration of Independence, had proved to be a tuff and troublesome year for the Continental Army in the fighting of the War of Independence. So, Washington needed something big—he needed a substantial victory against the British. Washington’s tactic in attacking Trenton was, of course, the element of surprise. Christmas is all about the element of surprise, as it was in this review of American history and as we are reminded of every year. Sometimes people need a morale boast, just like the Continental soldiers needed, and so we give our gifts to others hoping they will make them happy. We want Christmas to be a joyful time, a time of celebration, a time when we are with family, and perhaps even friends, celebrating the goodness of life and all that God has done for us. We are thankful for how kind he has been to us throughout the year. And we want to bless others by giving to them out the abundance that God has given to us.

Christians Just as Bad as the Rest of Us? (TMF:791)

Peace to Live By: Christians Just as Bad as the Rest of Us? (TMF:791) - Daniel Litton
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       Contention four: Christians are no better than people who don’t go to church. They are just as bad as the rest of us. Now, it is the case sometimes that there are those who go to church, or even churches as a whole of people who do not practice what the Bible says. These people are Christians in ‘name’ only, but really don’t follow what the Bible says. They are sexually immoral—some fornicating, some committing adultery, others practicing homosexuality, etc, and yet still make a claim and profession in Christ. Some just commit non-sexual sins, like stealing, being greedy with money, or drinking too much. Whatever the case, these people give Christians a bad name because some in the world notice these people who say they are Christian and yet are doing things God clearly prohibits in his Word. But the New Testament actually says that these folks, those who regularly and continually commit the ‘big’ sins, are not actually Christians but are false brothers and sisters.