According to Christianity Today the past year’s top ten religious stories were as follows: [Click the link if you want details about what these stories are about.] 1. Taliban takes Korean short-term mission team hostage, killing two. 2. Atheism tops the bestseller charts. 3. Presidential campaigns start early, with some faith surprises. 4. Ruth Graham dies. 5. Anglican Communion fractures over Scripture, homosexuality. 6. Three Christians tortured and killed in eastern Turkey. 7. Jerry Falwell and D. James Kennedy die…. Read more

This Christmas tide I offer you blogs from Christmas past. Just as TV goes into re-run mode with all of those Christmas specials that have become family traditions, so I will do with this blog, re-running Christmas posts that left an impression. I start with two contrarian posts that left many readers indignant. Then I move to a series that makes the case that Christianity was NOT derived from a pagan holiday and that December 25 just might be the… Read more

[This entry, from 2005, got a lot of people riled up who did not get what I was doing.] I love everything about Christmas, including its commercialization. First of all, it is very appropriate for non-Christians and secularists to observe this holiday. “At the name of Jesus, every knee should bow. . .and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Philippians 2:10-11). This will happen at Judgment, but it happens too in a lesser way at Christmastime. The practically-universal… Read more

[An old WORLD column] Santa Claus had his origins in St. Nicholas, the fourth-century bishop of Myra in present-day Turkey. Known for his generosity and his love of children, Nicholas is said to have saved a poor family’s daughters from slavery by tossing into their window enough gold for a rich dowry, a present that landed in some shoes or, in some accounts, stockings that were hung up to dry. Thus arose the custom of hanging up stockings for St…. Read more

In response to my column on the evidence that December 25 was not set aside as Christ’s birthday because of some pagan holiday, but for good reason, alert WORLD reader Rev. Gary Hinman sent me this article on yet another line of evidence. The calculations are based on the course of Temple duties for the clan of Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist. The months are laid out with precision in the Gospel of Luke, including when his wife… Read more

[This entry from 2006, which continues the case that Christmas did NOT derive from a pagan holiday, reminds us that those of us from European, yea, Germanic stock, had pagan ancestors who were brought to faith by missionaries.] Thanks to reader SSchaper–also to commenter Puzzled– for alerting me to an account of the origin of the Christmas tree that goes way, way back to the missionary who first evangelized the German tribes. who That was St. Boniface. His apologetic technique… Read more

Babies like Christmas music A study has found that Christmas music, more so than other kinds, has a calming effect on babies. Daycare workers have long noticed how babies do not cry as much when Christmas music is played in the background. Other styles they play, such as soft rock or classical, do not have the same effect. From Scripps Howard News Service: The holiday season is in full swing and it is giving nurses who work with newborns something… Read more

[Another great Luther quote on Christmas, posted in 2005] The God in the Manger A major hat-tip to What You Do Do Quickly for this heart-touching Christmas meditation from Martin Luther: if you will have joy, bend yourself down to this place. There you will find that boy given for you who is your Creator lying in a manger. I will stay with that boy as he sucks, is washed, and dies…. There is no joy but in this boy…. Read more

HT to Paul McCain for quotes about how Luther relates vocation to Christmas: Here is another excellent and helpful lesson, namely, that after the shepherds have been enlightened and have come to a true knowledge of Christ, they do not run out into the desert-which is what the crazy monks and nuns in the cloisters did! No the shepherds continue in their vocation, and in the process they also serve their fellow men. For true faith does not create people… Read more

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