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Christmas Farce

by Donald Geddes — last modified Dec 20, 2014 04:09 PM
When I went looking for Christmas cards that depicted the birth of Christ I was astounded to find how few were available. Most featured Santa, reindeers, Christmas trees, bells and decorations or snow scenes. Finally I found a packet marked “Religious”.

It almost seemed that the policy was: “Whatever else you do, don’t bring religion into Christmas!” We have gone from wishing people “A Merry Christmas” to “Seasons Greetings” and now to accommodate the pagans, “Have a Happy Holiday”. What a farce!

What used to be a happy family occasion seems to have become an exhausting shopping experience followed by a day of overindulgence and a year of paying off the Credit Card debt. What a farce!

How far removed is all this from the original birth of Christ! The Heavenly Host’s anthem of praise, “Glory to God in the highest”, made the birth of Jesus an incredible spiritual event which we have turned into a tawdry commercial experience.

There were no gifts or decorations in the stable the night Jesus was born. He had to wait for more than a year until the Wise Men came with their gifts.

On reflection, our commercialised and paganised celebration of the birth of Christ is not much different from the original event. It was, after all, largely ignored. While the shepherds spread the good news around Bethlehem, there is no indication any who heard bothered to come to the stable. They were too occupied with the politics of the Roman Census and anxious to register and get home.

The shepherds tended the flocks which provided the sacrificial lambs for the Temple at Jerusalem, so there is little doubt, they spread the news of the birth of the Messiah to the priests and Religious Leaders. They knew of the birth of the King but did not bother to come and see.

When the Wise Men arrived many months later enquiring where they could find the one who has been born King of the Jews, the Chief Priests and teachers of the Law quoted the Old Testament prophecy of Micah which tells He would be born in Bethlehem. But they did not bother taking the 7 km journey to Bethlehem to see the long-awaited Messiah.

Being indifferent to and ignoring the birth of God’s Son is nothing new.

Nor is the opposition we are now seeing to celebrating Christmas with nativity scenes, also anything referring to Christ is being banned in some places for fear of offending non-Christians.

King Herod ordered the massacre of all baby boys in Bethlehem in a vain attempt to kill Jesus. Here is a figure prominent in the Christmas story who, strangely enough, is never depicted on Christmas cards. Could you imagine a card with a picture of Herod on the outside and a greeting inside, “Merry Christmas — it might be your last one”?

Another aspect of the story which is not shown on cards is Joseph, Mary and Jesus fleeing to Egypt. That Jesus spent his early years as a refugee is rather embarrassing. But it is important for us in a world where there are over 15 million refugees, 80% of whom are women and children.

You can’t send cards to refugees because they are homeless. But wouldn’t it be a more meaningful celebration of Christmas to send a gift to help feed and clothe these refugees rather than spending money on gifts that are not needed and a surfeit of food and drink? I’m sure that is what would please King Jesus and help bring glory to God in the highest.

Cosmetic Chaos

by Donald Geddes — last modified Dec 13, 2014 08:56 PM
Last week thousands lined up to rush the opening of the French Cosmetic Chain Sephora’s first store in Australia. Over 1000 waited in the heat outside with staff providing them with ice creams! Sephora has over 1000 stores world wide and plans opening more in Australia.

Why are people going crazy over cosmetics and loony over lipstick? Why indeed? Being a mere male, I have no answer. I do know that, when accosted by a young lady in the Shopping Mall wanting to sell me “skin rejuvenator”, I told her she was too late.

The Cosmetics Industry in Australia is big business. It employs 8,000 people and each year earns $4bn. This is not just women (and men) wanting to look attractive but many desperately trying to hold back the ravages of time.

The old jingle “A little bit of powder and a little bit of paint makes a woman look like what she ain’t” has more than a grain of truth. No one now asks “Why gild the lily and paint the rose?”

Some thoughts from the Bible are worth pondering.

In Ephesians chapter 5 Paul addresses wives and husbands. To the husbands he gives this command:

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless (Vs 25–27).

When husbands truly love their wives it shows in that they become radiant, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish. But note! This is linked to being holy and blameless.

There is no doubt life-style has a tremendous effect on our health and well-being and it shows in our face. True beauty, regardless of age, is shown in the radiance seen in the face of a godly person. This is not a beauty that is skin deep. It is not superficial but a beauty of character.

Peter has a wise word to wives:

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewellery or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves (1 Pet 3:3–50).

There is an interesting story in the Old Testament concerning the wicked Queen Jezebel who tried to turn Israel from worshipping the Lord to idolatry. After both her husband King Ahab and her son King Joram had been killed, the wild Jehu seized the throne and went after Jezebel. 2 Kings 9:30 says: Then Jehu went to Jezreel. When Jezebel heard about it, she put on eye makeup, arranged her hair and looked out of a window. She knew her time had come and adorned herself trying to look as regal as possible. But it did not hide her pagan character as she taunted Jehu calling him a traitor and murderer. What happened to her? Read 2 Kings 9:31–33.

What counts is not outward appearance but godly character.

Stars

by Rev Donald Geddes — last modified Dec 08, 2014 05:12 PM
The world-wide outpouring of grief over the death of Philip Hughes was remarkable. The fact that a fine young man could be killed playing cricket is almost unbelievable.

Of course there have been others who have died as a result of sporting injuries but Hughes had the distinction of playing for his country, Australia. He was a sporting star whose career was tragically cut short in its prime

Being a sporting star brings fame and fortune as it does for movie stars and pop stars. We use the term “star” to signify someone successful and famous and we pour adoration (sometimes almost to the point of worship) on those so designated.

But sporting stars have a limited life of a few years then their body gives out and they have to retire. Most of them then fade from view. Movie stars last longer but often stay in the public eye because of their rocky marital life or because they battle substance abuse. Rock stars re-appear from time to time only to have audiences marvel at the ravages of time so clearly evident on their faces.

Some of these stars are like the shooting stars which trace a spectacular course across the night sky only to fade and disappear. Most stars are so distant they have no impact on us or our world.

For the vast majority of us, there is no likelihood we will ever be recognised by the world and its media as a star.

But nevertheless there is one kind of star we can aspire to be. Daniel 12:3 says: Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever. The footnote translates this as: Those who impart wisdom. Luther said these were teachers of God’s Word but the term has a wider meaning. It really means “Those who turn many to righteousness.” The wisdom in view is thatwhich comes from God and His Word the Bible.

Philippians 2:14-15 explains this idea: Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation. Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.

Living a blameless and pure life of a true Christian in a dark world of sin and evil and holding to the instructions of God’s Word produces a person whose life shines like the stars in a dark night sky.

These are not the shooting stars which streak across the sky and burn out. The person whose life-style is consistently Christ-like is one who will shine to eternity.Their witness will show the way of salvation to others and lead them to salvation and eternal life.

In God’s eyes these are the true stars. Are you one of these kind of stars?