Information, celebration, and a devotional on the coming of Jesus Christ for families, Bible study groups, and anyone else who wants to add truth and richness to the Christmas season. Enjoy this foray into advent wreath history.
By Mark D. Harris
Advent (Latin adventus) refers to the coming of Jesus Christ. On the first Sunday of Advent, we remember God’s love for us, exemplified in the first candle…hope. We also reflect on the symbolism of the wreath itself. On the second Sunday, we think about the peace that He gives us, especially in this season, through His Son. On the third Sunday of Advent, we consider the third candle, joy. On the fourth Sunday, we focus on love. Finally, on Christmas Eve, the Christ candle reminds us of how Jesus Christ is the source of each of these.
Continue reading “Advent Wreath History, Meaning, and Celebration”
The Western World has largely discarded Christmas as the story of God becoming man to save humanity and all creation. In our historical ignorance we forget Saint Nicholas, and in our skepticism we deny Santa Claus. All that is left is warm feelings, decorations, and presents. Isn’t there something more?
By Mark D. Harris
My father was driving me to Hadley Preschool on a chilly December morning when I declared, “Daddy, there just can’t be a Santa Claus. He couldn’t fly all over all over the world in one night.” My father looked at me, smiled and said, “Your mommy and I knew that you would soon figure it out.” My discovery of the absence of Santa Claus didn’t bother me, it was just a fact, cushioned by the reality that presents kept coming even without Jolly Old Nick.
The Predecessors of Santa Claus
Years later, I discovered Saint Nicholas (AD 270-343), a Christian Bishop in the Eastern Roman Empire city of Myra, in the Antalya province of modern Turkey. Nicholas was born to a wealthy Greek family and was famed for his generosity. One story recounts that St. Nicholas secretly gave gold coins for the dowry of three daughters of a poor man in his parish. He dropped the coins down the chimney, and the coins landed in the girls’ stockings, which had been left to dry by the fire. Had Nicholas not done so, the girls would have been unable to marry and thereafter forced into prostitution to earn their living. Nicolas was reputed to have performed many other acts of great kindness and even miracles.
Continue reading “Yes, Virginia, and mankind, there really is a Santa Claus”
Sometimes wars stop because of the thoughts, words, and actions not of presidents and generals but of ordinary people. Other times, on-the-ground combatants exhibit genuine mercy towards each other. Occasionally, good leaders hold out an olive branch to their foes. In the long run, and sometimes the short run, the power of peace is greater than the power of war.
By Mark D. Harris
Every December my family and I watch short videos about Christmas, in addition to our normal Christmas movie fare. I have two favorites, the video describing Handel’s Messiah, and a video discussing the Christmas Eve Cease Fire between German and British troops on the Western Front of World War I in 1914. A similar but smaller truce happened on Christmas Eve in 1915. Local truces, occasioned by ordinary soldiers rather than politicians or generals, have happened in military history.
Continue reading “Local Cease Fires and Other Humanities in War”
A 15 minute (or so) play about a good and faithful but worn-out pastor who needs to be reminded about what really matters at Christmas.
By Mark Harris
- Pastor Tim – male, mid 40s
- Cindy – female, late 30s, Pastor Tim’s wife
- Michael – son of Pastor Tim, 12-13 yo
- Candali – daughter of Pastor Tim, 9-10 yo
- Rinna – daughter of Pastor Tim, 7-8 yo
- Jenny – Church secretary, female, 50s to 60s
- Jose – male, mid 30s
- Mariana – female, late 20s
- Joshua – infant
Setting – A Baptist church in Detley, South Virginia. Pastor Tim and Jenny the secretary are the only paid staff. Tim’s 4th grade daughter Candali and 2nd grade daughter Rinna are doing homeschool work in his office. The roof is leaking, with drops falling into a bucket on the floor.
Time – late Tuesday morning
Continue reading “Remembering What Counts at Christmas – Play 15 minutes”