Bible Study from Calvary Chapel Newberg

with Tom Fuller

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Christmas Myths Unveiled

Judith

Christmas Traditions

Saint Nicholas
Reindeer
Carols
Spiced cider
Greeting cards
Giving and receiving gifts
Decorated trees, decorated houses
We always get mandarin oranges as our tradition

All important traditions, and all held dearly by millions.

Christian Christmas Traditions

We have traditions in the church as well - they have become as ingrained as the cultural traditions about the Yule. Some are true, some are not.

Let's take a look at some of them.

The journey to Bethlehem - probably true.
Confirmed by John Malalas who wrote around 500AD

Born December 25th? Probably born Sept or October
o Dec was rainy season - sheep kept inside - only outside at night thru September
o One way to calculate the birth is by going by the prophecy to Zacharias, John's father. Zacharias was serving a particular "course" in the temple - a course that presumably began in early June. Calculating forward, John would have been born in March, and Jesus six months later, in September.
o Now, an interesting side note - Cyril of Jerusalem (348-386) claimed to have been given the date of Jesus' birth from the census documents - and that date was December 25.
o The Eastern church actually celebrates Jesus' birth on January 6th - the first official celebration. It was in 375 that Dec 25 became the Western Church Christmas day.
o Some think it was to coincide with current pagan holidays. However, Saturnalia was actually celebrated on Dec 17.

Jesus was born in 0 AD
No. Probably born either in 4 or 5 BC
Why? It happened while Quirinius was in office. His first term was from 6-4BC

Three wise men came to the stable.
The wise men or "Magi" came to a "house" not a stable
Jesus is refered to as a "child" - not the word for baby
They came from Persia, Media, Babylonia, maybe even India
There were far more than three - probably 150 in their retinue
Herod ordered all children 2 and under killed - so some time must have passed

Mary and Joseph arrived in Bethlehem on the night Jesus was born.
They had probably been there for a month or more. There is nothing in the narrative to suggest a late arrival - but it is likely that their home in the stable was because they were of meager means.

So if some of our Christian traditions are false - what does our focus at Christmas as a Christian, need to be?

I want to suggest some things we find in the Christmas story - contained in what God said, through his angels, to man about the coming of Jesus.

Luke 2:10-12
But the angel said to them,
1 - Christmas is a time for listening. God wants to speak to our hearts this season

"Do not be afraid.
2 - Christ's coming means fears departure. Sometimes we fear drawing close to God - yet He welcomes us with open arms.

I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
3 - The news is good and joyful and for ALL
2 Cor 5:20 "We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us..." We are now the heralds of the gospel and we can use this time of year to make that appeal more than any other because hearts are drawn towards that stable in Bethlehem.

11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you;
4 - The Lord's coming is personal. It is to each one of us that Jesus comes

he is Christ the Lord.
5 - Jesus arrival means giving up of self: He wants to be Lord anew in our lives

12 This will be a sign to you:
6 - Christmas is a sign of God's love. What is the sign of God's coming to you? A baby - helpless, dependent, unconditionally loving.

You will find a baby
7 - You must seek the Lord out, He won't force Himself on you

wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
8 - Christmas is a time for humility. Sometimes it is in the humble things, not the gaudy, that we find God

Isa 30:15-18
15 This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says:

"In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength,
but you would have none of it.
16 You said, 'No, we will flee on horses.'
Therefore you will flee!
You said, 'We will ride off on swift horses.'
Therefore your pursuers will be swift!
17 A thousand will flee
at the threat of one;
at the threat of five
you will all flee away,
till you are left
like a flagstaff on a mountaintop,
like a banner on a hill."

18 Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you;
he rises to show you compassion.
For the LORD is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for him!
NIV

Make Christmas a time to look at yourself - take stock and repent, which means to turn away from sin and towards God.

Instead of depending on your own strength, rest in God's - for He came to do what we cannot.

Instead of getting all caught up in the loud activity, hustle and bustle, let quiet reflection reign.

Make Christmas a time to throw yourself and your trust into the arms of God - making Him your all in all.

LISTEN, WITHOUT FEAR, BUT FULL OF JOY AS YOU GIVE UP YOURSELF AND LET GOD PERSONALLY TOUCH YOU - SEE THE SIGN OF HIS LOVE AS YOU HUMBLE YOURSELF AND SEEK HIM WITH ALL YOUR HEART.

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