ACCORDING TO THE TRADITIONAL CHURCH
CALENDAR WE HAVE JUST ENTERED THE
FIRST SEASON OF THE CHURCH YEAR
Here we are, in the month of December, less than four
weeks left in 2007, and on every hand we are hearing
this comment: "Where did it go? This year has gone by
so quickly!" Already we are getting calendars for 2008
to display in our homes and offices.
But those are just the annual calendars – the "secular"
calendars, if you will – which do just one thing: keep us
advised of today’s date: day, month, year. They make it
possible for us to observe and sometimes celebrate
events during the year. They begin on January 1 of each
year, and end on December 31.
The calendar we use is called a Gregorian calendar,
named after Pope Gregory XIII who instituted it in 1582
as a modification of the Julian Calendar adopted during
the reign of Julius Caesar in 45 BC. The calendars are
based on years of 365 days, plus a fraction of a day, thus
requiring a "leap day" every 4 years – a four year cycle
which we have termed "leap years."
But from beginnings in the 6th century, and further
developments during the Reformation period in the 16th
century, there came to be observed a Calendar of seasons
of the Christian Year, or today’s Church Calendar. In this
practice, the Christian Church has followed the historic
Jewish tradition of using the various seasons of the year
as opportunities to worship God as the Lord of life. The
Jewish seasons of worship centered upon the exodus from
Egypt, but the Christian faith observances center upon the
life and ministry of Jesus Christ.
Thus the first season of the church year is the season of
Advent, which began this year on Sunday of this week,
December 2, and, including the four Sundays of Advent,
will end on December 24. The Advent season has as its
theme the coming of Jesus to the manger in Bethlehem
and in the clouds of glory when He returns.
During the church year we have opportunity to see Him in
his manger birth, observe His life and ministry, hear the
shouts of the crowd "Crucify him," stand at the foot of His
cross, and rejoice in His resurrection, even as we await
His promised and imminent return.
Sadly, in the Western world the period known as the Advent
season has become focused almost entirely on the Nativity
aspect and has become, particularly for retail businesses, a
commercial opportunity to make a profit out of Christmas.
And equally sadly, under the guise of "un-constitutionality"
enemies of the Christian faith – led by the ACLU, atheists
and Liberals – have tried to remove the word "Christmas"
from our daily life, changing the traditional greeting "Merry
Christmas" into "Happy Holidays."
The Christian Church needs to return to the primary
meaning of the Advent season, and demonstrate in life and
word their obedience to the instruction of Jesus Christ that
we are to be both light and salt in our world, and that we are
to preach the Gospel to every one everywhere in that world.
This may or may not be a politically correct greeting, but
to all of our readers: "A blessed Advent season to you
Afterthoughts . . .
As we look ahead in Advent season, so we can also
look back this week at December 7, 1941 – just 66 years
ago, when Japan attacked the United States at Pearl Harbor.
With 2,300 American military deaths, and 1,100 wounded,
we declared war on Japan. Shortly after we also went to
war against Germany – who had not attacked us – and for
4 years we engaged in World War II. Our military deaths
were over 400,000. But this was a different nation. We were
united and very pro-America in attitude. We willingly made
civilian sacrifices to keep the war machine operating. And
we prevailed until our enemies were defeated, and America’s
respected position in world opinion respect was firmly
established. Today after a similar attack by al Qaeda leaving
2,300 dead and another 1,100 wounded on "9/11," we have
been at war for 4 years, and have lost 3,900 of our military
forces and the country is divided and some anti-Americans
are urging us to quit and let the forces of evil have their way
in the world. Let us on this 66t h anniversary of Pearl Harbor
look back to the America that was, and seek to retain our
nation’s reputation in the eyes of the world of nations.
A very appropriate quote in a presidential election
period; from Jonathan Falwell, Senior Pastor of Thomas
Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, VA, the church
founded by his father, Jerry Falwell: "It’s a long road to
Election Day 2008, and a number of things could happen
between now and then in terms of who gets the party
nominations. As that date approaches, it behooves Christians
to begin examining the presidential candidates. We must
ascertain which one best characterizes the values and ideals
we have determined for our candidates since we discovered
Ronald Reagan. But there is more to the Christian life than
the dirty game of politics."
An "inconvenient" quote; Al Gore in defense of his
much debated theory of "global warming," "It is a mistake
to think of the Climate Crisis as one in a list of issues that
will define our future. It is the issue. Everything else must
be viewed through that lens." One wonders if Mr. Gore has
any idea how ridiculous that sounds?
A plethora of "world peace" conferences and letters
urging unity among the religions of the world. It all seems
to be part of the move toward a "one world" government,
and a "one world" religion. In November under the aegis
of the Global Christian Forum (GCF) some 250 delegates
from 72 countries met in a conference in Limura, Kenya
on the theme, "Our Journey with Jesus Christ the Reconciler."
Their final report stressed the intent to foster mutual respect
among a broad range of Christian communities so as to
"address common challenges together." Later in November,
in the "holy city" of Amritsar, India, leaders of major world
religions met to promote an inter-faith dialogue. The
participants included Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Muslims,
Jews and Buddhists. Meantime, for a period of three years
a group of 138 Muslim leaders has been working on the
project "A Common Word between Us" and have finally
released their report seeking world-wide coordination,
"on the most solid theological ground possible: the
teachings of the Quran and the Prophet, and the
commandments described by Jesus Christ in the Bible.
Thus despite their differences, Islam and Christianity
not only share the same Divine Origin and the same
Abrahamic heritage, but also the same two greatest
commandments." Here in America on the web-site of the
Yale Center for Faith and Culture, a response titled
"Loving God and Neighbor Together" attracted some
300 signatures, including Liberal church leaders from
the World Council of Churches, United Churches of
Christ, Baptist World Alliance and from Britain, the
Archbishop of Canterbury. The letter appeared in a
full page advertisement in (where else?) The New York
Times. Most confusing was the fact that many professed
"Evangelicals" also signed the letter including Rick Warren
of Saddleback Church, Robert Schuller of Crystal Cathedral,
Bill Hybels of Willow Creek Community Church and Leith
Anderson, President of the NAE. One is almost reminded
of Matthew 24:24, "There shall arise false Christs and
false prophets ... insomuch that if it were possible they
shall deceive the very elect."
And here’s an interesting thought: Writing in the
Financial Times of London, Michael Franc of the Heritage
Foundation, said "The demographic reality is that the
Democrat Party is the new ‘party of the rich.’" He noted
that Democrats represent the majority of the nation’s
wealthiest congressional districts, and that more than
half of the richest households are in the 18 states where
Democrats control both Senate seats. The facts
are often just the opposite of the media propaganda.
And for the lighter side: Don Imus is back on radio, and
to display his unbiased stance he said, "Dick Cheney is still a war criminal, and Hillary is still Satan."
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