Holidays

The Christian Calendar

This entry is part 1 of 9 in the series Holidays

I am beginning a new series on holidays, focusing especially on Christian holidays.  This will give me the opportunity to explore the origins of some of our major holidays and share reflections on them from a Christian perspective.… Continue reading

Santa on the Cross? A Comparison of Santa and Jesus

A man in Bremerton, Washington has erected a 15 foot cross in his yard, with Santa in the place of Jesus. In an attempt to fight the commercialization of Christmas, Art Conrad has placed a picture of his creation on a home made Christmas card with the caption “Santa died for your Mastercard.” While some passersby are amused, others take offense at this irreverent use of the primary symbol of the Christian faith.

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Does Easter Matter?

What difference does it make whether or not the body of Jesus remained in the tomb? The way in which you answer this question reveals a lot about your understanding of the Christian faith.

To many, Christianity is a religious system that has much in common with the other religions of the world. Most of them teach that we should live for a higher purpose, treat others well, and try not to be too selfish. In that case, what really matters is that the teachings of Jesus live on. What happened to his body after his death isn’t really important. Continue reading

Eliminating the Easter Bunny

This past week there has been a lot of discussion about a decision over 4 years ago by the city of Walnut Creek to rename the Easter Bunny. The city web site lists “Breakfast with the Spring Bunny” and “Spring Egg Hunts.” The local paper mentions a reader editorial letter… Continue reading

What is Lent?

This entry is part 8 of 9 in the series Holidays

[I originally wrote this article in February 2007.  I have now moved it into the holiday series so that it will be linked to all the other holiday articles.]

Lent is a time of soul-searching and repentance in preparation for the celebration of Christ’s death and resurrection on Good Friday and Easter. In the Western Church, Lent consists of the 40 days before Easter, not counting Sundays. Continue reading

The Origin of Valentine’s Day

If we are to judge from the media attention it receives, Valentine’s Day is a major holiday. My main memories of Valentine’s Day are from my grade school valentine exchange. The teacher had all of us bring a shoe box, cut a slot in the top, and decorate it. Then on Valentine’s Day we were supposed to bring little punch-out Valentine’s Day cards for each of our classmates and put them in their boxes. Some students also included little candy hearts. I’m not sure how much the students enjoyed this activity, considering we were at the age at which all girls had “cooties.” Picture a bunch of pre-pubescent boys forced to give all the girls a heart-shaped card that said “Be My Valentine!” and you get the picture. Some of them were probably traumatized for life.

It makes me wonder where this custom came from. Is it really about love, or is it a marketing ploy by Hallmark and your local florist and jewelers? There is a good introduction to the history of Valentine’s Day from Focus on the Family in The Pastor’s Weekly Briefing. I will quote it here for your benefit: Continue reading

Celebrating New Year’s Eve

Why do people think that they have to kiss someone at midnight on New Year’s Eve? For the past several days I repeatedly run into comments about the importance of “the kiss,” and honestly I just don’t get it. Of course I don’t usually make a big deal about New Year’s Eve anyway. But the whole custom seems rather strange to me. Continue reading

What is Advent?

Our church is using an Advent wreath to celebrate the period of time leading up to Christmas. Some are wondering what Advent is and how this custom originated, so I thought it would be good to write a short article on Advent. Continue reading

A Charlie Brown Christmas

This is the 40th anniversary of the much beloved television special A Charlie Brown Christmas. What most people don’t know is that the show originally almost didn’t air. Even in 1965 the television producers were worried about using a reading from the Bible as a key part of the… Continue reading

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"True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less." -- C. S. Lewis