Resources for Lent

Lent begins tomorrow. How will you use this season as a time of spiritual refreshing? How will you prepare for the joyous celebration of the Resurrection on Easter?

To learn more about the background and meaning of Lent, see my article What is Lent?

I have uploaded some handouts on… Continue reading

The Twelve Days of Christmas

This entry is part 6 of 9 in the series Holidays

Have you ever wondered about the “twelve days of Christmas”?  In the U.S. many people think that the “twelve days of Christmas” are the 12 days leading up to Christmas.  Some holiday advertising makes this assumption. … Continue reading

Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays?

This entry is part 4 of 9 in the series Holidays

In recent years it has become the norm in public to wish people “Happy Holidays” rather than “Merry Christmas.”  I can understand the concern about offending the minority who adhere to other religions or no religion at all.… Continue reading

Advent: A Season of Preparation and Hope

This entry is part 2 of 9 in the series Holidays

Advent is the name given to the period of preparation leading up to Christmas.  It begins on the 4th Sunday before Christmas and ends on Christmas Eve.  In churches that use a formal liturgical church calendar, Advent… Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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

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

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