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Thursday, December 22, 2016

DENNIS PATRICK: FOREVER CHRISTMAS

FOREVER CHRISTMAS

Christmas brings with it everything one would expect for a celebration. Cards and carols, gifts and greenery, meals and music – all add to the festive season.

The old, old story of Christ’s birth is told anew in music by Isaac Watts and George F. Handel (“Joy to the World”) and by Charles Wesley and Felix Mendelssohn (“Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”). Lesser luminaries join the chorus offering their own songs and carols in celebration of the season.

Attempts to explain the phenomenon of Christmas fill many books. In spite of the efforts and regardless of divergence of opinion, one thing remains constant. Generations throughout the millennia cannot let go of Jesus the Christ.

Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, and even secular adherents to a social gospel, fall under the spell of that momentous event so many centuries ago.

Whether a person is a believer or not, for the sake of cultural literacy everyone should read the Bible at least once during their lifetime. I’ve read the Bible cover to cover many times and find new meaning every time I do so. With respect to the Old and New Testaments, as the saying goes, “In the Old, the New lies concealed; in the New, the Old lies revealed.”

If reading the Bible cover to cover is too great a task, then, as a minimum, the four Gospels should be read. In these pages reside the root of Christianity and the basis for the Christmas story.

The very earliest Christian monks and anchorites set in place a unadulterated religion that might have otherwise degenerated into just another common political or social philosophy. Over and over again new generations read the Gospels and the letters of Paul as if for the first time only to discover the eternal blueprint of Christianity.

Throughout the history of western civilization, from the time of Jesus onward, enough substance from the Gospel remained discernible to be passed down to our own era. It is the Spirit of the Gospel that strikes the heart.

Jesus the Christ is central to western culture. That doesn’t mean everyone will embrace Him for who He says He is. It does mean that His influence is such that no other individual could have shaped lives and behavior worldwide over time in a manner as has Jesus. But that He has done so is what matters.

He emphasized a message of salvation, love and peace residing within each individual and working outward into the world. We even count our days from His appearance on earth. And, for His influence, He was killed.

Around the world and across the centuries, from the Orient to the Occident, from the Roman Era to the 21st century, people’s hearts still seek Him.

Over the centuries many have come to realize that questions of good and evil, life and death, time and eternity are bound up in a living relationship with this Person named Jesus.

It is said that the definition of a Christian is one who has come into such a living relationship with Jesus Christ. Enough people have done so through the ages and down to the present day that the vibrant celebration of His birth, if only for the sake of the season, should come as no surprise.

Holiday celebrations focus on a temporal season of fun and joviality. To the Christian, however, yesterday, today and forever are bound up in the Person of Jesus Christ. And that’s worth celebrating -- wholeheartedly.

To all a heartfelt Merry Christmas!

 

Dennis M. Patrick can be contacted at P. O. Box 337, Stanley, ND 58784 or (JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

 

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Christmas brings with it everything one would expect for a celebration. Cards and carols, gifts and greenery, meals and music – all add to the festive season.

The old, old story of Christ’s birth is told anew in music by Isaac Watts and George F. Handel (“Joy to the World”) and by Charles Wesley and Felix Mendelssohn (“Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”). Lesser luminaries join the chorus offering their own songs and carols in celebration of the season.

Attempts to explain the phenomenon of Christmas fill many books. In spite of the efforts and regardless of divergence of opinion, one thing remains constant. Generations throughout the millennia cannot let go of Jesus the Christ.

Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, and even secular adherents to a social gospel, fall under the spell of that momentous event so many centuries ago.

Whether a person is a believer or not, for the sake of cultural literacy everyone should read the Bible at least once during their lifetime. I’ve read the Bible cover to cover many times and find new meaning every time I do so. With respect to the Old and New Testaments, as the saying goes, “In the Old, the New lies concealed; in the New, the Old lies revealed.”

If reading the Bible cover to cover is too great a task, then, as a minimum, the four Gospels should be read. In these pages reside the root of Christianity and the basis for the Christmas story.

The very earliest Christian monks and anchorites set in place a unadulterated religion that might have otherwise degenerated into just another common political or social philosophy. Over and over again new generations read the Gospels and the letters of Paul as if for the first time only to discover the eternal blueprint of Christianity.

Throughout the history of western civilization, from the time of Jesus onward, enough substance from the Gospel remained discernible to be passed down to our own era. It is the Spirit of the Gospel that strikes the heart.

Jsus the Christ is central to western culture. That doesn’t mean everyone will embrace Him for who He says He is. It does mean that His influence is such that no other individual could have shaped lives and behavior worldwide over time in a manner as has Jesus. But that He has done so is what matters.

He emphasized a message of salvation, love and peace residing within each individual and working outward into the world. We even count our days from His appearance on earth. And, for His influence, He was killed.

Around the world and across the centuries, from the Orient to the Occident, from the Roman Era to the 21st century, people’s hearts still seek Him.

Over the centuries many have come to realize that questions of good and evil, life and death, time and eternity are bound up in a living relationship with this Person named Jesus.

It is said that the definition of a Christian is one who has come into such a living relationship with Jesus Christ. Enough people have done so through the ages and down to the present day that the vibrant celebration of His birth, if only for the sake of the season, should come as no surprise.

Holiday celebrations focus on a temporal season of fun and joviality. To the Christian, however, yesterday, today and forever are bound up in the Person of Jesus Christ. And that’s worth celebrating -- wholeheartedly.

To all a heartfelt Merry Christmas!

 

Dennis M. Patrick can be contacted at P. O. Box 337, Stanley, ND 58784 or (JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

 

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