Traditional Christmas Symbols and Their Meanings

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Many of the symbols associated with Christmas are derived from the traditional pagan celebrations. The decorating of Christmas trees, the eating of ham, the hanging of wreaths, holly, mistletoe, etc. are all historically pagan practices associated with Yule or winter solace.

So why have we been using these pagan traditions in our Christian celebration?

An old English historical writing helps us understand how this came about.  It contains a letter from Pope Gregory to Saint Mellitus, who was then on his way to England to conduct missionary work among the pagan Anglo-Saxons.

Pope Gregory suggested that converting heathens would go easier if they were allowed to retain the outward forms of their traditional pagan practices and traditions, while reinterpreting those traditions spiritually towards the Christian God instead of to their pagan “devils”: “to the end that, whilst some gratifications are outwardly permitted them, they may the more easily consent to the inward consolations of the grace of God”.

Enjoy the traditional practices of Christmas.  As Christians let’s not be so different from the world that the world wouldn’t want what we have. Listen to what Pope Gregory said and rather than condemn the pagan traditions, give them Spiritual meaning.  We should try to use these dark traditions to spread the “Light” into the darkness. (John 8:12 Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”)

Search this website www.trainupthechild.org for the history of  various objects associated with Christmas and see how to relate them to the birth of Christ.  Just type in the search bar the tradition you wish to learn more about.

 

Dealing with Santa

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I realize some Christians avoid the Santa game all together.  Other Christians may choose to participate in the fun.

Our family chose to enjoy pretending about Santa, but always intentionally emphasizing throughout the season the true reason we celebrate, even using the tangible traditions to teach intangible truths.

A very Godly lady told us when our children were very small, “Don’t make your children so different from the world that the world doesn’t want what you have.” We have heeded that advice through the years and applied it in numerous situations, always trying to find things we could participate in with those that might not believe as we do, thus having an opportunity to interact with them.

To give further credence to this thought, an old English historical writing contains a letter from Pope Gregory to Saint Mellitus, who was then on his way to England to conduct missionary work among the pagan Anglo-Saxons. Pope Gregory suggested that converting heathens would go easier if they were allowed to retain the outward forms of their traditional pagan practices and traditions, while reinterpreting those traditions spiritually towards the Christian God instead of to their pagan “devils”: “to the end that, whilst some gratifications are outwardly permitted them, they may the more easily consent to the inward consolations of the grace of God”.

We taught the true story of a man named Nicholas who gave gifts because he loved Jesus with all his heart.  A great children’s book about the history of Santa Claus is Santa, Are You For Real? by Harold Myra.

Check Train Up The Child for ways to relate the real Reason for the Season to traditional seasonal objects.  Just search on the site for ‘Christmas’, ‘Keeping Christ in Christmas’,  or for a traditional object (ex. Santa, trees, wreaths, mistletoe, etc.)

Christmas Joy in the Midst of Grief

25 years ago this morning we were on the way to my Daddy’s funeral. I was always a daddy’s girl and we always enjoyed Christmas together, even one year making together from scratch our own aluminum Christmas tree and color wheel (remember those?)

As we traveled to the funeral I was questioning why he had to die at Christmas time and would I ever be able to enjoy the season again. Then a Christmas song I had never heard came on the radio. As I listened to it, I found great comfort in the words, “Man can live forevermore because of Christmas Day.” I felt like God was assuring me that because of Christmas I will see Daddy again and I needed to continue to experience joy at Christmas and think of Daddy experiencing the ultimate Christmas joy in heaven.

I still cry from missing Daddy, but Jesus gives me His abiding peace and joy. A friend recently said that grief has no time table.  So whether this is your first Christmas without a loved one or this is your fiftieth one, I pray we will all experience the Joy of the Lord this special season in spite of our loss because ‘man can live forevermore because of Christmas Day.’

Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord.
Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Nehemiah 8:10

Intentional ‘Thanks’giving

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In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 

Lead your children (by example) to be intentional with giving thanks to God and to others, especially at this time of year called ‘Thanks’giving!  

Here are some questions taken from Dee Brestin Ministries to ask around your Thanksgiving table to help promote thankfulness:

  • What can you be thankful for this year that you couldn’t have been last year?
  • Lift up the name of each person and have two to four people share one reason they are thankful for that person.
  • Is there a way that God met you in a challenging time this year? If so, how?
  • Did you receive an unexpected kindness this year?
  • Is there a Scripture passage that became more meaningful to you this year – if so, what is it, and how did it help you?
  • Is there something a little child said that delighted you?
  • Was there wisdom received from a book, a mentor, or a sermon?
  • Was there a time when circumstances lined up so you knew God was behind it?
  • God said He would shake our world so that what was unshakeable would remain – give thanks for one of those unshakeable realities.

Here are some previous posts with ideas to lead your children to be thankful:

Keeping Thanks in Thanksgiving – The First Thanksgiving

Keeping Thanks in Thanksgiving – A ‘Thank You God’ List

Keeping Thanks in Thanksgiving – Psalm 100 

Keeping Thanks in Thanksgiving – Songs

Keeping Thanks in Thanksgiving – A Thankful Walk

Keeping Thanks in Thanksgiving – Express Thanks to Others

Keeping Thanks in Thanksgiving – Bible Stories

Thanksgiving Ideas

I want to intentionally say ‘thank you’ to each of you who read this blog.  And thank you for your desire to train your children in God’s Word.

HAPPY ‘THANKS’GIVING!!

 

A Thanksgiving Tea

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I recently had the opportunity to speak at a Tea for some beautiful young girls in the Dublin Classical Conversations Homeschool group.  I decided to share it here as well:

 

In keeping with the Thanksgiving season, I wanted to talk about some of the gifts God has given to us.

2 Peter 1:3 tells us that God’s divine power has given us everything we need for life and for godliness – He’s given everything we need to live and be good.

As we talk about these things God’s given I want us to think about what the Bible says in Luke 12:48 For to whom much is given, from him much will be required;  which simply means the more you are given (animals, things, friends, money, etc), the more responsibility you have to take care of these things – and to share them! For example God gave us a larger house last year and along with it came more responsibility in cleaning and repairing, but also we feel more responsibility in sharing our home with others.

So let’s talk about some of the ‘much’ that has been given us:

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First of all, God has given us a royal position – he has made each of us girls His princess. The Bible says that He is the King of Kings (1 Tim 6:15 He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords)

And Galatians 3:26 says we are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. Therefore if we are a child of the King that makes us a princess!! That is a pretty special position. So to whom much is given, much is required – Hmm -what is required of a princess?

Our country does not have a king and therefore we don’t have anyone in the position of a princess, but some other countries do. I looked up what some of the requirements are for a princess in another country:

A princess is to study to be well educated –You as God’s princess must study diligently in school, but especially you need to study God’s Word. 2 Tim 2:15 tells us to study to show ourselves approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

A princess is also to represent her country well by always being well-groomed and well behaved. –You all look like princesses this morning as you are so lovely on the outside. But in order to represent God well we have to look lovely on the inside also and I know yall do.  God tells us in 1 Peter 3:3-6 “Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.” That’s what makes us really shine with beauty.

One of my favorite verses says Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; (Psalm 34:5) Each time you look in a mirror remember you as God’s princess must radiate or shine for Him on the outside and inside. My daughter and I like to remind each another to radiate. Perhaps y’all would like to do that with your moms.

downloadThe second gift I wanted to mention that God has given us is parents. Yall, in this group, are so very blessed. I hope you are aware that not all young girls have moms they can look up to or dad’s who tell them about Jesus. I know most of your parents and yall have been given the best!  They are teaching you so much!!  So being so blessed, much is required of you. Obey your parents and listen to all they are teaching you.  (Ephesians 6:1 Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do.)

Because you are receiving such godly training from your parents, you have no excuse for not doing right.   You have a responsibility to do right! James 4:17  it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.

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Another gift from God is your friends.  Yall are greatly blessed in this group in that yall are all being taught to love the Lord and He will keep you friends forever.  I see you all enjoying each other so much at school, at play, and at other events. Knowing that you are so blessed with many good friends, what is required of you?

Well, the Bible tells us we must show ourselves friendly if we have friends (Proverbs 18:24 A man who has friends must himself be friendly) That means no excluding others but being friendly to all.

God had a special plan in giving us friends. God planned for friends to stir up each other to love and good works (Heb 10:24)  There are 59 Bible verse that talk about what we are to do for one another such as love, serve, encourage, greet, accept, even sing songs to one another, and  be kind to one another. Especially be kind to one another – think how would I feel if someone were treating me the way I sometimes treat others. (Check out the 59 One Another Scriptures in the New Testament here)

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Another special gift from God is the Bible – it is given for teaching, pointing out errors, correcting people, and training them for a life that has God’s approval. It equips God’s servants so that they are completely prepared to do good things. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

So if God has given us His written Words for our training for a good life, what is required of us?   We must take the time to read His Words, memorize His Word, and share His Words with others so they can be prepared for life.

If we want to know how to be good, how to honor our parents, how to be a friend, look in the Bible.  God has given us His ‘how to’ manual for life

Having the Bible and not reading it is like being hungry and having food growing in your back yard and not digging it up and eating it.
Not sharing the Bible with others is like seeing someone who is hungry and not giving them food.
Not obeying the Bible is like being hungry and being given good food but refusing to eat it.

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Lastly I wanted to talk about the greatest gift God has given – His Son dying on the cross in order to give us forgiveness for our sins. (Eph 1:7 Through the blood of his Son, we are set free from our sins. God forgives our failures because of his overflowing kindness.)

Wow! Talk about to whom much is given!! What is required in response to something that amazing!?!  God just wants us to accept what Jesus did to give us forgivenss and then to forgive each other (one of the one another scriptures is forgive one another Eph. 4:32) Don’t hold grudges, let it go if someone has hurt you. Think how you hurt God at times by not obeying, getting angry, or being unkind – but  God is faithful to always forgive. (Col 3:13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.)

 

So we have talked about just a few of the many gifts we have to be thankful for. This Thanksgiving as you think of the ‘much’ that has been given to you, ask God what He wishes you to do with all you have been given.

Luke 12:48 “For to whom much is given, from him much will be required;”