Archives For Christmas

Christmas Eve 2 Zero 1 Seven

December 24, 2017 — 1 Comment

Copywrite RL2017“Christmas Eve 2 Zero 1 Seven” is my latest original musical offering. Give it a thumbs up here or you can check it, and my other tunes out on YouTube.

What I like about this is the piano. The harmony and bass worked out okay as well.

I’ve been having some technical issues with my recordings since upgrading some of my equipment, so my newer recordings have suffered in the quality department.

If you’re following my musical art diary on YouTube it’s fairly obvious. I’m working on fixing that so the creative side doesn’t suffer as a result.

Anyways, Merry Christmas, folks. Thanks for tagging along with me this year.

May God bless you, keep you and bring to us all His best in the coming New Year.


 

Guest post by Josiah Luithui.

Christianity came to Nagalim about 100 years ago, and now 99% of the population in Nagalim is Christian. Then, we can be sure about this – Christmas is the most awaited and important festival of Nagalim.

It is the festival of joy and merry-making; a joy for the birth of baby Jesu and a merry-making of this joy. It is a season of rest and fellowship and gathering; a season when dear and near ones comes home from afar to be with their parents and family at home. It is the most precious festival for the Nagas.

In this festive season farmers take complete rest from farm works; students comes home from their schools/colleges/seminaries, and villages are once again full of merry-making voice and gathering. So, for the tribal Nagas who mostly dwells in villages, Christmas is the most wonderful and beautiful festival and time God has made for His people.

Let me tell you about how Christmas is celebrated in Nagalim.

Usually, the celebration stresses for 4-5 days, i.e., starting from 24th December mid-night program (this is to welcome the born of baby Jesus at mid-night) and the celebration goes till the 28th night. People gather in a place, usually the village football playground.

At night, since the weather is cold, people gather seating around the fire.

At 24th, mid-night, the whole gathering crowd goes for Christmas Carol, and at 1 am they will move out from the place where they are gathered. They are led by the village Torch bearer, followed by the Church choir master with his choir, and followed by the crowed. They will sing the Hymn songs and go door-to-door collecting the carol gifts. All these gifts they collected are done for auction in the Church after Christmas, and the fund is for the Church.

During day time, people gather from 10 am- 4 pm, they play different games and are rewarded with prizes- pen, cup, plate, exercise books, utensils etc. The games are usually played categorically, i.e., children, adult and old folks; also men and women.

Common games played are: race, volleyball and football. Nagas, both men and women, are football lovers. The program begins and ends with prayer; before the departure of the day, a very special kind of “delicious sweet” is distributed to the crowed, one piece each- called “Genikur,” which is made of sugar-cane juice- an apple size.

At night, people gather around the fire and there is competition: song, dance and drama, fashion show etc. The winners are rewards with prizes. The night program is from 7 pm- 10 pm. The program begins and ends with prayer and the delicious “Genikur.”


The most delicious and choice food for Christmas is “Pork.” Poor people buy 2/3 kgs for the festival; but this does not stop them from the joy of receiving baby Jesus. And, especially for children, Christmas is the time when they buy new: toy guns, barbies, and dress.

This is the time the parents spend their saving for children’s clothing.

To sum up, for the Nagas, Christmas is the one all-in-all celebration; a celebration of joy and merry-making, singing “joy to the world, the Savior Jesus is born.” Amen.


Josiah is a student of theology.

Servant of the living Lord Jesus Christ.

To learn more about Nagalim,

you can connect with Josiah @ the Facebook page Council of Nagalim Churches

An Advent Jigsaw Journey

December 6, 2017 — 2 Comments

A few years back we came across this 24 piece jigsaw by Juliet David (Author) & Pauline Siewert (Illustrator).

U.S: Amazon, AUS: Koorong 

Advent_JigsawPuzzle

At some point in November 2012, my wife and I got to talking about one of Ann Voskamp‘s family traditions. In a moment of inspiration, we wondered out-loud how cool it would be to use this jigsaw as an interactive advent calendar. Participating in Advent is another act of worship. It’s lived out daily. Hence, I’m not an admirer of chocolate filled cardboard Christmas countdown boxes, so this fit the bill.

IMG_20131202_093013

The general idea is not complex.

First: set up the jigsaw by numbering the back of each piece from one to twenty-four in a permanent marker, leaving the 24th piece with Jesus on it for Christmas Eve, or Christmas Day.

Second: match the date with each piece, daily.

Worth noting: after some rough starts, we decided  to create a basic roster on our calendar for December. That way each child was free to monitor it, knowing when and who got to have their turn. We found that this fostered a sense of community. Discussions each morning nearly always included reminding each other who’s turn it was on the day.

The end result is a historical scene that comes into view over the course of December. Empowering a very real experience of reverence, hope and anticipation. I’m a big fan of encouraging theological themes where relevant, this deeply entrenches us in what the Christ-Advent is all about.

Advent_JigsawPuzzleexample2012

We’ve done this alongside our Nutcracker Advent calendar every year since. Not just because the kids loved it, but because the process also reflects an interaction with the history surrounding the curious journey of Mary, Joseph, Jesus, Angels, shepherds and wise-men.

I wouldn’t quite call this sacramental, but I would emphasise the significance of its symbolism and its potential as a very simple spiritual discipline.


19th-december-2016-023Here’s how a committee meeting between Herod and his advisers might sound, if such a meeting were to take place in a Western context today.


“This baby! This Jesus, his mother and father, is a threat to us! Committee members, you are asked to agree with Herod’s call for the genocide of all new born male Hebrew children. For by this child’s very existence, all the power structures that surround him stand unprotected. This so-called, “Prince of peace”, is a threat to safe spaces, our glorious goal of perpetual revolution and the power of its leaders.”

“This child’s birth is nothing but a conservative, bourgeois conspiracy, comrades! It’s violence against everything we stand for, which is surely justification enough for its violent suppression.”

“His existence as an outright repressive assault on everything we’ve built; everything we want people to believe in.”

“This is blasphemy against the State and it must not go unpunished. We’ve heard of the academics; how three bourgeoisie wise-men cheated you. Traitors to our glorious academic industrial complex, all of them!! Therefore, any who refuse to give up this child’s location should be tried and tortured. Treated like the vermin, we say they are.”

“It’s their kind that hinders us from completely implementing the way of our glorious leaders. The way of our glorious revolution [pounds fist on desk] !! We should continue to seek to replace structures we deem oppressive with our own. Tear them down!! This child, the “Prince of peace” is a threat! He challenges us, our religion of peace, and our people.”

“Comrades, you know that ‘State power must be exercised in all spheres, even in that of thought!’ [i] For what we do is for the good of the people, we know what’s best for them, better than they know themselves.”

“Yes. Our revolutionary non-gender specific person of the same mind is correct! Our collective’s survival rests on our ideas dominating the higher ground in the hearts of the people. Those who still have sway with the young, and yet betray us must be purged!”

“I concur! This birth represents heteronormative oppression. We must rally people to take up arms against it. He who says that God became man is guilty of hatred towards women. It is said that the husband, one carpenter by the name of Joseph, has wed this woman, Mary, under strange circumstances. As it has been told to us by our spies and confirmed by the secret police, this Joseph is said to have been given the task of caring for the child by Angels. This only reinforces the evils of patriarchy. It will perpetuate the lies that claim healthy child rearing at its best, involves both a man and a woman; a father and a mother. It MUST be stopped! We must ban Christmas!”

” We’ll paint this male Christ-child and the nativity scene itself, as an evil idea, constructed to further the chains of bigoted societal norms.”

“The birth of the “Prince of Peace” threatens our control over what we say is peace; We must have war! These chosen people; these breeders, are an assault on ALL humanity. The State alone, is the peace bringer. The State alone, is the saviour of the people.”

“At the heart of this child is a war on peace! He will stand against our truth and it’s phobic misrepresentations. He will not be easy to control through our mass propaganda and He will unhinge us from progress.”

“For the betterment of humanity; for our evolution, we must have control and influence of hearts and minds, which as we’ve agreed, has to happen first with our educational institutions. Our science is the only science. Our truth, the only truth. What we say is scientific fact, is scientific fact. After-all, we fund our scientists well, and they’re loyalty to our agenda is off the charts. They will all fall in line and do as we tell them to.”

The room quiets down then a voice shouts in frustration:

“How dare this woman, this Mary, choose to keep her unexpected pregnancy! Worst of all, she claims to have been chosen by God! Send her to the Clinic for the welfare of women’s rights! That child must not be allowed to live!”

“This must not go unpunished!”

“Her convictions and religious beliefs are phobic, sexist and irrational. So, we the committee applaud your decision, dear Herod.  We’ve even lined up celebrity endorsements to back us on how necessary and just this action is. This woman’s pregnancy, and the prophecy attached to it is a farce, therefore this child’s life should be deemed not worthy of life.”

“Her and her child’s suffering will not be on your head. This Mary has made her choice and we will not celebrate it …. If only she could’ve seen the freedom our glorious revolution has offered her, the same freedom we’ve given all women, who do as we say, think as we think, and follow what and who we tell them to follow. Ignorant fiend! How dare she stand against us and think for herself. We cannot be to blame, we wouldn’t have had to act as we have. Mary is to wear the blame for forcing your hand, dear Herod, not you.”

“Okay. Then the decision is unanimous. Therefore, let nothing sway you. You are to wipe out males up to the age of two. This will save us and make certain we have eliminated this threat to peace and our civil order. This is an act of great compassion, surgically liberating your people from this threat to us, is the right course of action.”

“After all, we are the victims here! It’s an all out attack on feminism.”

“This young woman’s choice disempowers all women. Her choice undermines our choice for women. If she gets away with it, what does our lack of response say about our pro-abortion policies and how will that negatively impact the millions in funding flowing into our abortion-on-demand factories? This woman could potentially kill the whole industry. The State must, at all cost, uphold the ideals of glorious revolution.”

“Yes. I have the data here. Social media polls suggest support for reinforcing our commitment to feminism. Killing every Hebrew male under the age of two, is the only way to reassure those people that, you Herod, and your council, remain committed to social justice programs that favour those we deem to be the oppressed, and those we deem to be the oppressors.”

“The birth of the Prince of peace; the Son of God, and its proclamation before everyday people is a threat to us. It will inspire ignorance,  non-conformism and counter cultural activists into disobedience. Zealots will rise. Worst of all it will inspire unity and solidarity amongst those we seek to control for their own benefit.”

“Surely, not! The people are now convinced we serve them, even if putting our own interests before them is undeniable. Will they really care? They know who holds the power and who doesn’t; who to fear and who not to.”

“Well, I think your trust in our propaganda success is slightly misplaced. Make no mistake, this child will work against us! He will stand as a threat to our factories, our causes, and he will take away our ability to convince the people about how necessary it is for them to have us in power. Only you can be called King. Only the State and the glorious leaders of the revolution can be called saviour! There can be no other!”

“The raising up of anyone against the glorious progressive collective must be met with ridicule, shame, and gaol time. This rise of a King of kings, must not be allowed to happen.”

“I agree! We want our ideas to reign. We want a peaceful society in harmony with the peaceful religion we’ve created and authorised. We want our people to be thankful for the live-life-our-way programs. We have no room for a Prince of peace, we have a religion of peace; there is no room for a “King of Kings” who commands us to live life His way, according to the ways of the Good Book before our redaction of it.”

“If you’ve been following me on Twitter, you’ll know that I for one, am outraged! This so-called birth of the Prince of Peace, is what real violence looks like! It is violence towards the collective. Violence against the state! Violence against women! Violence against us!”

“Then let it be made known that all who disagree with us are traitors, haters and infidels! Anyone not thinking along with us, is against us.”

“We’re told that the prophecy of Isaiah has been fulfilled, that this child is a saviour.”

“But the quiet proclamation announcing the birth of a Jew; a baby boy from Judea is ethnocentric; it’s offensive to other races. It propagates the legitimacy of Israel’s existence,  and threatens our power on the world stage.”

“If not stopped, this manger baby will lead a revolution. We are all in agreement. This Christ-child is a threat to us all.”

“We must not stop showing a unified stance against this blatant display of contempt for our leadership. Our glorious revolution depends on it, and our glorious leaders command it to be so!”

“Organise the outrage! Get the wheels of the State moving and manipulate the ignorant. Send out the murderous minions and shut down all this unlicensed good cheer. The party must not be seen to approve of this unsanctioned movement. Stop the early rumblings of this pathetic prophetic Jesus movement.”

“How will we survive, if the people are encouraged to think for themselves?!”

“Herod, you must act. Remember all who oppose you are tyrants fit for only one thing – total destruction and perpetual war!”

And everybody said:

“Long may our glorious revolution, the party who enforces it, and its leader who embodies it, reign!”


Notes:

This is a hypothetical response created for the purpose of highlighting how some in the West respond to Jesus Christ. How within that response rests a resistance to Him who still confronts us in our own positions of power.

For the recount of an historical response of someone in power to the birth of Jesus Christ, see Matthew 2:16-18

[i] Weil, S. 1936 Oppression & Liberty p.109 Routledge & Kegan Paul 1958.

rl2016-christmas-letter-with-borderInstead of writing letters to Santa Clause, we write to the Grinch. The aim is to persuade the Grinch to give Christmas a second chance.

This is our second year of using such a brilliant, practical lesson in persuasive writing. [i]

It’s quirky and fits well with our homeschooling style.

I had another focus for craft last year around this time, which meant that I had to leave out the part where we get to make a Grinch face.  This year, however, I needed a craft-filler with some level of serious coolness, so it was full steam ahead.

If, like us, you haven’t sold your kids the line about Santa Claus “bringing nice things, only if you do nice things”, this is a real alternative to the Dear Santa petitioning.

Let me follow that up by saying that I have no issue with who the modern myth of Santa is based on. Nikolaos of Myra did exist. He stood by his convictions, made some mistakes, such as punching a heretic or two and gave to help those who couldn’t help themselves.  He’s my kind of Saint; the John McClane of all Christian forebears.

What I stand opposed to is teaching kids something that will cause them to question their trust in us as parents later on in life. If we manipulated them with the Santa line, it’s only right that they’d wonder whether there were other areas where their parents weren’t being completely honest with them.

This is as psychologically abusive as any Christian parent misrepresenting the fear of God in an attempt to encourage a child to behave.

Santa Claus isn’t the problem, the lie perpetuated by the modern myth of Santa is.It’s the packaging, not necessarily the content of that packaging.

For parents, teachers and homeschoolers, speaking the truth in love should be of paramount importance. Even when there are family members who might get angry with us for not wanting to become co-conspirators in what is, in all bluntness, an outright Westernised, excessively commercial, lie.

This may seem heartless. It does to some in my own family. I ask, though, isn’t it heartless to raise kids to believe in a lie; to abandon them to figure out the truth for themselves? Isn’t it heartless to misconstrue the truth and distort reality? Not just this, but then consciously employ that lie to manipulate a child’s behaviour?

Coming from a highly dysfunctional family, I’m more accustomed to the effects of this. I acknowledge that this has left me with a slight bias. For reasons other than Santa Claus, I’ve not only experienced it, I’ve also witnessed the harm done by parents who don’t tell their children the truth and instead lead them to believe a lie; the impact of which is made worse when that lie is used to control a person’s behaviour. It doesn’t end well for either the parent or the child. [ii]

If I am going to be teaching my children about faith and reason, these need to be taught with integrity. Believing in the modern myth of Santa Claus isn’t an example of what a faith that seeks understanding looks like.

There is nothing heartless in teaching our kids the truth about Christmas; teaching them about Jesus Christ and the fuller meaning of Christmas is part of a rounded holistic education. The nativity alone confronts our inhospitable tendencies, doubts, weariness and need for rest.

In answer to the charge that I’m simply swapping belief in Santa Claus for belief in Jesus Christ, I would say, no. The context is totally different.

To begin with, I’m not teaching my kids about Jesus Christ for personal gain. It’s a gift given to them to benefit them. It’s not something I’m taking from them to benefit me. Secondly, my sources come from authorised, written historical recounts about a real historical person. Thirdly, in contradistinction to neo-Pelagianism and some well documented bad theology, I’m not teaching them that they’ll get nice things, if they do nice things.

There is no anxiety about whether Santa is happy or sad because of their behavior. There is joy in a deeper learning about the immanence of God, in Christ, who is Immanuel [God with us]. One extended by the fact that on the 25th December every year, most countries in the Western World and the church in the majority world, join together to mark what is generally considered to be the birthday of Jesus Christ.

It unifies ethnicity and draws together cultures. It opens doors and hearts to the good news, has even prompted a ceasefire, brought respite to busy workers and seen both, rich, poor, king and queen bow equally before the one who is, and was, and is to come.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
– (Isaiah 9:6, ESV)

If choosing to do this makes me the Grinch or someone like a Dickensian Scrooge, so be it.

grinch-christmas-rl2016


Notes:

[i] How the Grinch Stole Christmas Persuasive Writing Project

[ii] Sir Walter Scott’s, ”O what a tangled web we weave, when first we practise to deceive” from  ‘Marmion: The Battle‘ comes to mind.

Augustine’s Bells

December 19, 2015 — Leave a comment

Two bells Smaller Canvas project NEW Large 2 with JESUS Final

 

‘Rejoice, you just (Ps 33:1); it is the birthday of the Justifier. Rejoice, you who are weak and sick; it is the birthday of the Savior, the Healer. Rejoice, captives; it is the birthday of the Redeemer. Rejoice, slaves; it is the birthday of the one who makes you lords. Rejoice, free people; it is the birthday of the one who makes you free. Rejoice, all Christians; it is the birthday of Christ.’ [i]
– Augustine, On Christmas Day. Circa 412 A.D.

 


 

[i] Augustine, Saint; Doyle, D. & Hill, E. Essential Sermons  New City Press (p. 244).

 

Dear Mr.Grinch,

December 11, 2015 — 3 Comments

GrinchHere’s a pretty cool end-of-year activity for homeschool.

The general idea is to write a persuasive text trying to convince the Grinch that Christmas needn’t be dismal or not worth celebrating.

I only used the premise of this idea as a finisher for the day. There is, however, an activity packet available on Teachers Pay Teachers (link).

This is what our youngest came up with:

Border letter to Grinch Without name

“But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”
(Jesus, Luke 18:16-17, ESV)