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The Season before Christmas is Advent

The people that sat in darkness, hath seen great light: and to them that sat in the region of the shadow of death, light is sprung up [Matthew 4:16].

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned [Isaiah 9:2].

"Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you [Isaiah 60:1]."

... to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace [Luke 1:79].

... a light to the revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel [Luke 2:32].



Stand by the roads, look and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; walk in that way and find rest for your souls

The season of Christmastide begins, of course, on December 25th. This season lasts 12 days, ending with Epiphany on January 6th.

December 24, 1818: Church organist, Franz Grüber, composed a melody on guitar at Nicole Kirche (St. Nicholas Church) in Oberndorf, Austria, for a poem. That poem, Stille Nacht, written earlier by pastor Joseph Möhr, was sung for the very first time that evening. The song reached Royal Court Choir of Berlin some years later, where „Silent Night” had become the favorite of King Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia. He researched the origins of the carol and traced it first to Salzburg in 1854. Later the full story became known. see http://www.german-way.com/german/stille.html

Stille Nacht! Heil'ge Nacht!
Hirten erst kundgemacht
Durch der Engel Alleluja,
Tönt es laut bei Ferne und Nah:
Jesus der Retter ist da !
Jesus der Retter ist da !
Silent Night! Holy Night!
Shepherds first saw the sight
Of angels singing alleluia
Calling clearly near and far:
Christ, the saviour is born !
Christ the Saviour is born !


http://web.archive.org/web/20060926085045/http://silentnight.web.za/translate/deu.htm

"O Holy Night" ("Cantique de Noël") is a Christmas carol composed by Adolphe Adam in 1847 to the French poem "Minuit, Chrétiens" by Placide Cappeau (1808-1877), a wine merchant and poet.

Minuit, chrétiens, c'est l'heure solennelle, Où l'Homme Dieu descendit jusqu'à nous Pour effacer la tache originelle Et de Son Père arrêter le courroux. Le monde entier tressaille d'espérance À cette nuit qui lui donne un Sauveur. Peuple à genoux, attends ta délivrance. Noël, Noël, voici le Rédempteur, Noël, Noël, voici le Rédempteur! De notre foi que la lumière ardente Nous guide tous au berceau de l'Enfant, Comme autrefois une étoile brillante Y conduisit les chefs de l'Orient. Le Roi des rois naît dans une humble crèche: Puissants du jour, fiers de votre grandeur, A votre orgueil, c'est de là que Dieu prêche. Courbez vos fronts devant le Rédempteur. Courbez vos fronts devant le Rédempteur. Le Rédempteur a brisé toute entrave: La terre est libre, et le ciel est ouvert. Il voit un frère où n'était qu'un esclave, L'amour unit ceux qu'enchaînait le fer. Qui lui dira notre reconnaissance, C'est pour nous tous qu'il naît, qu'il souffre et meurt. Peuple debout! Chante ta délivrance, Noël, Noël, chantons le Rédempteur, Noël, Noël, chantons le Rédempteur!
Midnight, Christians, this is the solemn hour, Where the God as man came down to us To remove our original stain And to prevent His Father's wrath. The whole world trembles with hope To that night which gives us a Savior. People [fall] on your knees, await your deliverance. Christmas, Christmas, here is the Redeemer, Christmas, Christmas, here is the Redeemer! From our faith that fiery light [which is] A guide for all of us to the cradle of the Child, Just as the bright star So led the leaders from the East. The King of kings is born in a humble manger: [You] mighty of the day, [so] proud of your greatness, Your pride, it is that about which God counsels. Bow your heads before the Redeemer. Bow your heads before the Redeemer. The Redeemer has broken every bond: The earth is free, and the sky is open. He sees only a brother who was once a slave, Love unites those enchained by iron. Who can express to Him our gratefulness, It is for us all that He is born, suffers and dies. People standing! Sing of thy deliverance, Christmas, Christmas, Sing to the Redeemer, Christmas, Christmas, sing to the Redeemer!

Caruso in a mono recording is overwhelming (example at 3:45-51) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hv5t7pOs4vc

December 25th -- Feast of the Nativity: Most people do not even know that the day of celebration of the Birth has fluctuated ! Christmas was once a moveable feastday (or movable feast), celebrated many different times during the year. The choice of December 25th was made by Pope Julius I in the fourth century AD because this coincided with the pagan rituals of the Winter Solstice (Return of the Sun). The intent was to replace the pagan celebration (cult of Sol Invictus) with the Christian one.

December 25th was also considered to be the date of the winter solstice, which the Romans called bruma. It was therefore the day the Sun proved itself to be "unconquered" despite the shortening of daylight hours. (When Julius Caesar introduced the Julian Calendar in 45 BC, December 25th was approximately the date of the solstice. In modern times, the solstice falls generally on December 21st or 22nd.) The Sol Invictus festival has a "strong claim on the responsibility" for the date of Christmas, according to the "Catholic Encyclopedia." Solar symbolism was popular with early Christian writers, as Jesus was considered to be the "sun of righteousness." More recent sources have suggested, however that Christian celebration of Christmas pre-dates the Sol Invictus empire-wide festival declared by the Romans in the 3rd Century AD that was held on the 25th.

So why is there an image of the inside of a church here, you may ask ? The structure was begun by Ferdinand of Castille in the 13th century. It sits in Burgos, a town in north-eastern Spain, where his daughter, Eleanor was born, she who would later wed at age 13 a future king of England. She and her spouse were second cousins. She is the "cherished queen" remembered by the Eleanor Cross monument (Charing Cross, London). The church has a remarkable 8-pointed star vault ceiling window, which is pictured.

Thru the ages associated with the Creator is an eight-pointed star called the Star of Redemption or Regeneration. It has come to represent Christian Baptism. Sometimes the Cross will symbolically have 8 points (or the baptismal basin holding the chrism will have a base with 8 sides). On the coin of Emperor Constantine (on the reverse) is both the star and cross as well as the representation of Sol Invictus. Statuettes of Sol Invictus, carried by the standard-bearers, appear in three places in reliefs on the Arch of Constantine. Sol is usually seen holding a globe in his left hand. A globe on Roman coins usually symbolizes dominion over the cosmos. In the other hand is a whip to drive his chariot across the heavens. SOLI INVITE COMITI (meaning Sol alone unconquered is the Emperor's companion) is the legend with the mint shown at the bottom - a bold statement that Constantine later dropped as his beliefs became clearer.

Many believe it is the chi-rho symbol Constantine saw during the battle that consolidated his control over the empire. The obverse coin legend: PF stands for Pius Felix, i.e. “Dutiful and Fortunate” ( and sometimes pius felix invictus ("dutiful, fortunate, unconquered"))- IMP AVG means Emperor Augustus, the traditional titles of the Roman Emperor as designated by the Senate. During the later empire, the senior emperor was called "Augustus" while a junior leader over a portion of the realm was the subservient "Caesar" If you take the six points of the chi-rho and add 2 points for the alpha and omega letters you have the 8 pointed star. This coin has almost no visible wear but the strong reddish patina mars the obverse image. The blurred lettering and cracked planchet occurred when it was struck.

Coin of Emperor Probus, circa 280 (about 30 years before Constantine), with Sol Invictus riding a quadriga, with legend SOLI INVICTO, "to the Unconquered Sun". Note how the Emperor (on the left) wears a radiated solar crown, worn also by the god (to the right). This is indicative of the denomination (an antoninianus or double denarius) and not necessarily a declaration of equality with the invincible Creator.

More Images and information found at: http://www.themystica.com/mystica/articles/c/christ_constantine_sol_invictus.html; http://houseofconstantinecoins.reidgold.com/Sol_other.html; https://www.forumancientcoins.com/moonmoth/reverse_sol.html

December 25, 336: This is the earliest known year that Jesus' nativity was celebrated on the 25th, as mentioned in the Philocalian Calendar of A.D. 354. By the 400s most of the other Eastern denominations like the Western, Roman Catholic, church had accepted December 25th. In 496 (December 25th) Clovis, the first French King (who was really of a german tribe called the Franks), baptised himself. In 800, Pope Leo III crowned Charles the Great (Charlemagne), Holy Roman Emperor. In 1046, Pope Clemens VI, crowned German King Henry III Holy Roman Emperor, perhaps the most powerful in this line of the German Kings. In 1066, William the Conqueror was crowned king of England at Westminster by Aldred, Archbishop of York. In 1223, Saint Francis of Assisi assembled one of the first Nativity scenes, in Greccio, Italy; the ACLU promptly sued. In 1582, Zealand/Brabant adopted the Gregorian calendar. In 1758, Christmas day was celebrated with a recorded sighting of Halley's Comet by Johann Georg Palitzsch. Not to be outdone, on this date late in the evening in 1776, George Washington crossed the Delaware River with troops and surprised and defeated 1,400 Hessians under British employ. Yankee Clara Barton, the founder of the American Red Cross (1882), was born in North Oxford, Massachusetts in 1821. In 1865, General Evangeline Cory Booth, (Salvation Army, 1904-34), first stepped into the picture.

December 26-the Second Day of Christmas: Darzu ist erschienen der Sohn Gottes (For this the Son of God appeared), is a church cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach. He composed it in 1723, his first year in Leipzig, for the Second Day of Christmas, and first performed it on December 26th that year in both of the city's principal churches, Thomaskirche and Nikolaikirche. It became the first Christmas cantata Bach created for Leipzig. The title of the cantata also appears in more modern German as "Dazu ist erschienen der Sohn Gottes." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darzu_ist_erschienen_der_Sohn_Gottes,_BWV_40

On the Second Day of Christmas, the City of Leipzig liturgically celebrated Christmas and St. Stephen's Day in alternating years, using different Biblical readings. In 1723, St. Stephen's Day was featured, with the for the feast day from the Acts of the Apostles, the Martyrdom of Stephen (Acts 6:8–7,22, Acts 7:51–59), and from the Gospel of Matthew, which referred toJerusalem killing her prophets (Matthew 23:35–39). The cantata text (by an unknown author) does not encompass the martyrdom, but reflects Jesus in more general terms as the conqueror (of sin and the works of the devil). A quote from the New Testament is found in movement 1, a verse from the First Epistle of John (1 John 3:8). The contemporary poetry of the text also alludes to the Bible several times. Movement 2 is based on the Gospel of John (John 1:14). Movement 5 has its foundation in the creation narrative (Genesis 3:15); the image of the serpent is also used in movements 4 and 6. Movement 7 finally picks up a line from the day's Gospel, verse 37, "how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings."

During October 1989, after prayers for peace at St. Nicholas Church, the Monday demonstrations began. These protests were the most prominent of the mass actions against the Soviet dominated East German regime. This popular movement led to the reunification of Germany within a year.

December 27th is the third day in the octave of Christmas: The Church celebrates the Feast of Saint John, apostle and evangelist. Born in Bethsaida ("Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth"), he was recruited to follow Jesus while mending his nets (one of three from that village called). He is credited by some with having written the fourth Gospel, three Epistles as well as the Apocalypse. His passages on the pre-existence of the Word, who by His Incarnation became the light of the world are said to be among the finest of the New Testament. John was exiled to the island of Patmos under Emperor Domitian. St. John died in peace at Ephesus in the third year of Trajan, at age 94, some 66 years after the Crucifixion. He is the patron of artists and of Taos, New Mexico and Umbria, Italy-two oddly paired twin cities, among other places and professions:

—for the life was made visible {manifest};
we have seen it and testify to it
and proclaim to you the eternal life
that was with the Father and was made visible to us—
what we have seen and heard
we proclaim it now to you ... [1 John 1:2-3].

December 28th --Today is the fourth day in the octave of Christmas: It also may be the Feast of the Holy Family - the first Sunday after Christmas (in 2014); or, the Feast of the Holy Innocents (in the Anglican Tradition). This means that the readings for the day (liturgy - Matthew 2:13-21 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+2:13-21) are all over the place. Pictured together are two of the least graphic images for the deaths and related history. There are approximately 70 named Saints recognized by the Christian Church from Old Testament (OT) scripture, including a few angels such as Michael and Gabriel, as well as men and women, including Adam and Eve. Today's reading comes from an interesting interim period. Christ is alive, yet he has not preached, suffered or risen. The reading draws heavily from OT imagery. Starting in the middle of the story with Saint Rachel:

Near Ephrath, Rachel went into a difficult labor with her second son, Benjamin. The midwife told her in the middle of the birth that she had a male child. Before she died, Rachel named her son Ben Oni (son of my mourning), but Jacob, her husband, a Patriarch and Saint called him Ben Yamin (Benjamin). Her other son was named Joseph. Rachel was buried by Jacob on the road to Ephrath, just outside Bethlehem, today a place still visited by pilgrims. Mordechai, the male hero of the Book of Esther, and Queen Esther herself, were descendants of Rachel through her son Benjamin.

After the tribes of Ephraim and Benjamin were exiled by the Assyrians, Rachel was remembered as the saintly mother who mourns and intercedes for her children. The recounting in Jeremiah 31:15, speaks of Rachel bewailing her lost children' (KJV).

“A voice is heard in Ramah,
weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more.”

This verse is interpreted in Judaism as Rachel crying out for an end to her descendants' suffering and exile in a foreign land, following the destruction by the Babylonians of the First Temple in ancient Jerusalem. In the second chapter of the Gospel of Matthew (part of the New Testament), this reference from Jeremiah is seen as a prophesy of the Massacre of the Holy Innocents by Herod the Great (who restored the Second Temple), during his attempt to kill the young Jesus, which is all part of the Gospel reading for today. see http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07419a.htm

The exile of Rachel's children into Babylon captivity is (as mentioned above) the middle of the story. The end of the story is the warning by dream and exile of Jesus into, the massacre itself and then His return from Egypt, which fulfills the prophecy found in Hosea 11:1 attributed to being about the Messiah -- "When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son." The imagery of an Egyptian exile and return is an obvious invitation to discern and examine the first part of the story. Joseph (Rachel's son) is sold into captivity, then in triumph (due in part to his ability to understand dreams) is able to bring his whole family out of famine into Egypt. Moses in turn leads a fledgling nation out of Egypt into a promised land. Another Joseph (Jesus' father) brings his family to Egypt for safety; then returns to Israel when permitted to so do.

And this image of the first deliverance, a proof of the love of God to Israel; which as it was expressed in the nation's infancy, is continued and appears in various other OT instances, until the coming of Christ. Jesus who though obliged for a while to go into Egypt, must not remain there, but must be called from there, in order to be raised in the land of Judea; to do his miracles, preach his doctrines, and fulfill the prophesies, being sent particularly to the lost sheep of the House of Israel; and, above all, in order to work out the salvation and redemption of his special people among them, and then more generally to include (graft on) the world of the Gentiles - a great gift of Grace, even if unexpected.

The Greek-based Liturgy asserts that Herod killed 14,000 boys, the Syrian-based sources speak of 64,000, many medieval authors use 144,000 alluding to the number of martyrs specified in the Apocalypse (Revelation 14:3). Modern writers reduce the number considerably, because Bethlehem was a rather small town and because contemporary history does not recount this event. Numbers while perhaps valid in expressing the enormity of the evil, do not change the nature of the evil involved. Soldiers break into your house and immediately slay your beautiful little boy in front of you. Then they leave his bloody body on the floor of your home. The accidental or early death of children is one of the most sorrowful experiences of humanity, made unimaginably worse by this wanton act of brutality. You are outraged and rightfully so, by a suggestion that only a relatively few were murdered. So what if a number exceeded all the civilian deaths of World War II, or Stalin's infamous famines and purges, or the Chinese cultural revolution, would you be more outraged by the comment "well. they were at least alive." Rachel weeps for this country, too ?

Sadly on the morning of December 29th, the troops went into the camp to confiscate every gun. One version of events states that during the process of disarming, a deaf man became reluctant to give up his weapon, claiming he had paid a lot of money for it. A scuffle over the rifle ensued, then escalated. A shot was fired, which resulted in the well-armed troops opening fire indiscriminately from all sides, killing men, women, and children, as well as some of their fellow soldiers. Those who had not yet been disarmed, still possessing arms, began shooting back at the soldiers. but quickly were suppressed. The survivors fled, but the troops pursued and killed many who were unarmed. "My sister above. She has red paint. She died at Wounded Knee, like a latter day Saint." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bfai_XuZ8ow So one must ask once more, does Rachel weep for this country, too ?

A less incendiary reading for the 4th day of Christmas -- the Feast of the Holy Family (when Christmas is a Sunday, the feast of the Holy Family is celebrated on December 30th)

An English Saint December 29, 1170: Another Christmas Saint was created when agents of English King Henry II murdered his prelate, the Archbishop Thomas Becket, in Canterbury Cathedral southeast of London. Becket was canonized 3 years later. A solemn translation of Saint Thomas Becket's relics to a new shrine behind the high altar took place in the year 1220 (July 7). The ceremony was magnificent. People came from all over Europe to assist at it. The shrine-tomb of St. Thomas Becket also was of unparalleled splendor, perhaps the richest in the western world at the time. Yet, nothing of it now remains for it was plundered of all its riches during the reign of Henry VIII.

Thomas Becket triompha dans sa mort. Ce qu'il n'avait pu obtenir par l'effort de sa vie, il le réalisa par son martyre. Le peuple le vénéra aussitôt comme un saint, et le pape Alexandre III frappa Henri II, compromis dans ce meurtre, d’interdit personnel; pour obtenir son pardon, le Roi dut faire un pèlerinage humiliant au tombeau de Thomas Becket et se soumettre à la pénitence publique de la flagellation (21 mai 1172). Des miracles ayant attesté la glorification de Thomas Becket, Alexandre III le canonisa le 21 février 1173. Toujours est-il que la châsse du martyr devint le but d'un des pèlerinages les plus célèbres de la chrétienté. En 1538, Henri VIII se donna le ridicule de procéder à la «décanonisation» de saint Thomas Becket {en Church anglais}. http://missel.free.fr/Sanctoral/12/29.htm

Another Christmas Saint was created when agents of English King Henry II murdered his prelate, the Archbishop Thomas Becket, in Canterbury Cathedral southeast of London. Becket was canonized 3 years later. A solemn translation of Saint Thomas Becket's relics to a new shrine behind the high altar took place in the year 1220 (July 7). The ceremony was magnificent. People came from all over Europe to assist at it. The shrine-tomb of St. Thomas Becket also was of unparalleled splendor, perhaps the richest in the western world at the time. Yet, nothing of it now remains for it was plundered of all its riches during the reign of Henry VIII.

December 30th, the sixth day of Christmas:

... [and] He is the image of the unseen God and the First-born First-born (prōtotokos) of all creation [means "preeminent" not first-created].
For in Him were created all things in Heaven and on earth:
everything visible and everything invisible; whether they be
Thrones, or Dominions, or Principalities, or Powers –
all things were created through Him and for Him.
Before anything was created, He existed; and, He holds all things in unity.
Now the Church is His body; He is its head {preeminent} ... Colossians [1:15-18].

Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the First-born of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth [Revelation 1:4-5].

The title “firstborn of the dead” for Jesus is of great theological importance, especially with Easter in the background. The Greek word for “firstborn” that John uses is "prōtotokos" - a word that literally refers to birth order—the first child born. This is a concept of great significance in the Old Testament; and, his title “firstborn of the dead” for Jesus becomes of great theological importance, especially with the Resurrection in the background.

In referring to Jesus as the firstborn of the dead, John is drawing words and imagery from Psalms 89, which celebrates the kingship of David and his line with phrases like “the firstborn,” “the highest of the kings of the earth,” and the idea that the Messiah’s throne will be a “faithful witness” and the heir of David, exalted and lifted up as the representative of his people.

The map shows city locations where some of Paul's letters were sent. The coin features a youthful diademed Demos (ΔΗΜΟϚ obverse bust facing right) and on the reverse Helios (the personification of the Sun-Sol Invictus in Rome) ridding a quadriga and holding his torch and globus. Demos and Deimos are two spellings for the same entity, representing the personification of terror (dread) in war. He and his twin brother Phobus (panic, flight and battlefield rout) circle Mars (Ares is the Greek name for Mars). So ingrained were they in the culture as objects of worship, that they still appeared on local coinage 150 years after Paul's colleague Epaphras brought the gospel message to the three cities of the Lycus Valley - to Colossæ, to Laodicea, and to Hierapolis. see also: http://www.philipharland.com/associations/lycos.html

I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations.

I will declare that your love stands firm forever, that you have established your faithfulness in heaven itself.

You said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one, I have sworn to David my servant,

‘I will establish your line forever and make your throne firm through all generations.’” [Psalm 89:1-4]

One might not consider Colossæ to have much influence on great empires, yet consider this tale: After the first century AD the city was in sharp decline and today it is an mound still needing excavation. Yet, it was the site of a great miracle. The Arch-Angel Michael appeared in order to divert waters from destroying a Christian sanctuary. While this may appear a rather commonplace occurrence, it is considered of such significance that a Church in Moscow was built to commemorate the event. It was in this structure that the Tsars of Russia were baptized. http://www.stgeorgegreenville.org/Angels/Miracle%20At%20Chonae.html

Illustration of St. Jerome And on the 7th day of Christmas - Just in Time for New Year's -- December 31, 406AD: The Alans come to dinner. The Alans, the Asding and Siling Vandals and the Suevians cross over the Rhine, into Roman germaniæ, beginning their invasion of Gallia (Gaul) at Moguntiacum {Mayence -- Mainz}. This group, from the East, often referred to just as the Vandals, follow the pattern of earlier invasions of the Celts, as well as clear a path for the Huns some 45 years later, when Sainte Geneviève would implore the hoard not to destroy the City of Paris. For her role she obtains sainthood and gets a Church on the highest point of the left bank.

The Latin Vulgate version of the Bible by Saint Jerome (Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus) was fully completed (a tak taking almost 25 years) by 406 AD, just in time for the Barbarian visits. Everybody spoke the Roman language as the preferred tongue of the empire, even its invaders. Jerome translated the whole Bible using existing accepted texts into the Latin language of the time. In turn this new Latin version became the received text for over a thousand years more (Alcuin also revised the text of the Latin Vulgate somewhat in about 800AD). Many translations today use older texts and recognize conflicts between the ancient manuscripts The Douai-Reims Bible (made by members of the English College in Douai, France and abbreviated as D-R) is a translation of the Bible from the Latin Vulgate into English in an attempt to compete with England's translations.

Interestingly, when in 406 AD, the allied barbarian forces of Suevi, Alans, Vandals and Burgundians sweep into central Europe, they sever all over-the-land communication between Rome and its colony Britain. In the autumn of 406 AD, the remaining Roman army in Britain decides to mutiny, and in 407 AD, under the leadership of Constantine III, cross back over the Channel into Gaul bent on attacking Rome. This ended the Roman Empire in Britain. The Goths will sack Rome. Meanwhile, the British-Celtic people who had been the allies of Rome would now face devastating attacks and near-annihilation at the hands of the Picts, Scots and in particular, the Saxons, Angles and Jutes of North-Western Europe. The successive waves of Germanic invaders that followed would have an incredibly affect of the future of the world – something that would take more than a thousand years to fully realize. It is here that a birth takes place - the birth of a new language – English. http://web.archive.org/web/20081120222359/http://www.bobschwab.com/pre-old_english.htm

And Jehovah speaketh unto Moses, saying,
"Speak unto Aaron, and unto his sons, saying, Thus ye do bless the sons of Israel, saying to them,
Jehovah bless thee and keep thee;
Jehovah cause His face to shine upon thee, and favour thee;
Jehovah lift up His countenance upon thee, and appoint for thee -- Peace.

And they have put My name upon the sons of Israel, and I -- I do bless them."
Numbers 6:22-27 (Young's Literal Translation)

And when eight days were fulfilled to circumcise the child, then was His name called Jesus, having been so called by the messenger {angel} before His being conceived in the womb. And when the days of their purification were fulfilled, according to the law of Moses, they brought Him up to Jerusalem, to present to the Lord ... [Luke 2:21-22 (YLT)]

The Feast of the Circumcision of Christ is a Feast of Celebration about the circumcision of Jesus in accordance with Jewish tradition, eight days after his birth. It is also the occasion on which the child would be named. The feast day appears on 1 January in the liturgical calendar of the Eastern Orthodox Church. In the General Roman Calendar, the 1 January feast, which from 1568 to 1960 was called "The Circumcision of the Lord and the Octave of the Nativity", is now named the Solemnity of Mary (the Holy Mother of God) and the Octave Day of the Nativity of the Lord. It is celebrated by some churches of the Anglican Communion and virtually all Lutheran churches. The picture is by Luca Signorelli (1450–1523). In actuality, the rite would have been performed at home.

Picture is at the right is by Bartolomé Esteban Perez Murillo (1617–1682) from when he was about 40 years of age. It shows the moment Mary was told about her role in the birth of our Savior; and, is referred to in the reading about the Feast of Circumcision. The Feast of the Annunciation generally is celebrated on March 25th (often during lent). In the Bible, the Annunciation can be found in a narration at Luke 1:26-38:

26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,
27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.
28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, "Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women."
29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.
30 And the angel said unto her, "Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.
31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call His name JESUS.
32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David:
33 And He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end."
34 Then said Mary unto the angel, "How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?"
35 And the angel answered and said unto her, "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.
36 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.
37 For with God nothing shall be impossible."
38 And Mary said, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her."

A separate annunciation, which is more brief, is given to Joseph as recounted in Matthew 1:18-21:

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise:
When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.
19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily.
20 But, while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying,
"Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.
21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call His name JESUS: for He shall save His people from their sins."

Words for the next several days of Christmastide:

God will provide for Himself the lamb for the ...
offering ...
[Genesis 22:8].
At various times in the past
and in diverse ways,
God spoke to our ancestors through His prophets;
but in our own time,
He has spoken to us through His Son [Hebrews 1:1-2].

Listen, Israel: the Lord our God is the one Lord.
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul, with all your strength.
Let these words I urge on you today be written on your heart.
You shall repeat them to your children and say them over and over,
meditate on them, whether at rest in your house or walking upon your path,
at your lying down or at your rising [Deuteronomy 6:4-7].
The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us.
To all who received Him, He gave power
to become children of God
[John 1:14, 12].

I gain understanding from Your precepts;
therefore, I must abhor every wrong path.
Thy Word is a lamp to guide my feet,
a light onto my path ...
[Psalm 119:104-5]


The days before the Epiphany:

"And I have shaken all the nations,
And they have come to the desire of all the nations,
And I have filled this house with honour,"
Said the Lord of Hosts [Haggai 2:7].

All nations whom Thou hast made
shall come and fall prostrate before Thee, O Lord;
and shall honour Thy name [Psalm 86:9].

... and the kingdom, and the dominion,
even the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heavens,
is given to the people -- the saints of the Most High.
His kingdom is an ageless kingdom,
and all dominions do serve and obey Him
[Daniel 7:27 (see also 7:14, 18)].

Revelation 21:23 And the [New Jerusalem] hath no need of the sun,
nor of the moon, to shine in it.
For the glory of God hath enlightened it,
and the Lamb is the lamp thereof.

24 And the nations shall walk in the light of it:
and the kings of the earth
shall bring their majesty and honour into it.
25 And the gates thereof
shall not be shut by day:
for no night shall be there.

Revelation 22:3 And there shall be no curse any more;
but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it,
and his servants shall serve Him.

4 And they shall see His face:
and His name shall be on their foreheads.

5 And night shall be no more:
and they shall not need the light of the lamp,
nor the light of the sun,
because the Lord God shall enlighten them,
and they shall reign for ever and ever.

Behold, what love the Father hath given to us,
that we should be called the sons of God:
For this cause this world knoweth you not,
because it knoweth not Him.

Dearly beloved, now [while] we are the sons of God,
yet it is not made manifest what we shall become:
and we know that when He shall be made manifest:
we shall be like Him:
for we shall see Him as He is [1 John 3:1-2].

The “desire of the nations” is often seen as a designation for the Messiah. Also, one may translate “desire,” as “consolation.” The Gentile nations will come to the consolation of all nations. The Messiah being the object of the quest. all in which a man finds pleasure, joy and value. Some scholars following Luther's lead see Christ as the “Desire of the nations,” and another group interpret it as not a reference to the person of the Messiah which arrived 2000 years ago, but to a “far wider and richer sense than the mere literal appearance of His person in the literal temple” (Thomas Moore). When one is viewing two mountains, there is a place to stand and observe where the smaller and closer may obscure the larger peak and and the vastness that separates them http://www.abideinchrist.com/messages/hag2v6.html.

I find this passage a very difficult one in the original; and it bears several meanings in itself. The first meaning that I give you, though it runs contrary to the great majority of Christian expositors, is the most accurate explanation of the original. We shall bring in the other explanations by-and-by. from http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/3442.htm (as delivered by C. H. SPURGEON, at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, on Thursday evening, the 25th, August 1870) :

These eyes shall see Him in that day,
My God that died for me:
And all my rising bones shall say;
"Lord, who is like unto Thee ?"

See the original at Google Books

Many scholars have hypothesized that at the core of Job is one of the oldest original books of Wisdom in the Hebrew Bible. If so, it then becomes one of the earliest clear prophecies of the bodily resurrection of the Lord's Redeemed. https://truthbehindreality.wordpress.com/2011/03/29/the-biblical-book-of-job-%E2%80%93-is-it-old-or-real-old/

Oh that my words were written! Oh that they were inscribed in a book! That with an iron stylus and lead They were engraved in the rock forever! As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, And at the last, He will take His stand on the earth. Even after my skin is destroyed, Yet from my flesh, I shall see God; Whom I myself shall behold, And whom my eyes will see and not another. My heart faints within me [Job 19:23-27] !!!

After Christmas comes Epiphany


 
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