Saturday, February 13, 2010
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Friday, November 14, 2008
Friday, October 31, 2008
Pumpkins and Protestants
Every October 31st in America, and around the world, children dress in ghoulish costumes and go "trick or treating" around their local neighborhoods. Thankfully this is not an Australian national practice although it is growing in popularity here.
Aside from the obvious Occultic symbolism of the tradition, the threat of "trick or treat", implying "give me some lollies or I will 'trick' you", is not an attitude which should be promoted in children.
Don't get me wrong, I'm a parent, I see nothing wrong with children dressing in costumes and having a neighborhood event. Giving a treat or lollies to the neighborhood children is fine. Halloween however celebrates much more than costumes and lollies.
Halloween's origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in).
The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom, and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31, they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter.
To commemorate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities.
During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other's fortunes. When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter.
By A.D. 43, Romans had conquered the majority of Celtic territory. In the course of the four hundred years that they ruled the Celtic lands, two festivals of Roman origin were combined with the traditional Celtic celebration of Samhain.
The first was Feralia, a day in late October when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead. The second was a day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple and the incorporation of this celebration into Samhain probably explains the tradition of "bobbing for apples" that is practiced today on Halloween.
By the 800s, the influence of Christianity had spread into Celtic lands. In the seventh century, Pope Boniface IV designated November 1 All Saints' Day, a time to honor saints and martyrs. It is widely believed today that the pope was attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related, but church-sanctioned holiday. (Similar to the pagan origins of Easter). The celebration was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas (from Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints' Day) and the night before it, the night of Samhain, began to be called All-hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween. Even later, in A.D. 1000, the church would make November 2 All Souls' Day, a day to honor the dead. It was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels, and devils. Together, the three celebrations, the eve of All Saints', All Saints', and All Souls', were called Hallowmas.
But now we come to an important Christian event we have on this same date.
Reformation Day commemorates a very important day which sparked very important events in Church History. Reformation Day commemorates the beginning of The Reformation.
On October 31 (which is also Halloween), 1517 Martin Luther nailed a proposal on the doors of a church in Wittenberg, Germany to debate the Catholic doctrine and practice of indulgences. In Latin Catholic theology, an indulgence is the remission granted by the Church of the temporal punishment due to sins already forgiven by God. Luther's proposal is more popularly known as the 95 Theses.
This was not an act of defiance or provocation as is sometimes thought. Since the Castle Church faced Wittenberg's main thoroughfare, the church door functioned as a public bulletin board and was therefore the logical place for posting important notices. The act of nailing a proposal to a public place, such as Luther did, was also common academic practice of the day and served as an invitation to debate. Nonetheless, the event created a controversy between Luther and those allied with the Pope over a variety of doctrines and practices. When Luther and his supporters were excommunicated in 1520, the Lutheran, Reformed and Anabaptist traditions were born.
While there were many issues and debates surrounding the Reformation, this day in 1517 and the posting of the 95 Thesis on the Church doors, is considered the event which began the Protestant Reformation.
Click here to read the 95 Thesis.
Friday, October 24, 2008
UN petition for the Unborn Child.
Thursday, October 02, 2008
Rosh Hashanah literally means "head of the year" and commemorates the anniversary of the creation of the world. It is celebrated on the first day of the month of Tishri. This year, Rosh Hashanah began at sundown on September 29th and ended at nightfall on September 30th.
The commandment to observe Rosh Hashanah is found in Leviticus 23:23-25: The LORD said to Moses, "Say to the Israelites: 'On the first day of the seventh month you are to have a day of rest, a sacred assembly commemorated with trumpet blasts. Do no regular work, but present an offering made to the LORD by fire."
It is also mentioned in Numbers 29:1: "On the first day of the seventh month hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work. It is a day for you to sound the trumpets."
One of the central features of Rosh Hashanah is the shofar. The shofar is an instrument made from a ram's horn that sounds somewhat like a trumpet. In the Bible, Rosh Hashanah is referred to as Yom Teruah, the day of the sounding of the shofar, otherwise known as the Feast of Trumpets. The shofar is often representative of Abraham offering Isaac to God as a sacrifice on Mount Moriah (Genesis 22). It was then that God provided Abraham with a ram, caught by its horns in a thicket, as a substitute for Isaac. Rosh Hashanah is a time of both celebration and repentance. It is a time of spiritual renewal through prayer and deep personal reflection leading up to Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, on the 10th day of Tishri (Leviticus 23:26-28).
Rosh Hashanah is when the Jewish people recognize God as King and Judge over all living things. On Rosh Hashanah we celebrate the creation of the world, when "God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day."(Genesis 1:31).
The vast majority of Christians are unfamiliar with most of the traditional Jewish holidays. Yet they hold great spiritual and prophetic significance. In Colossians 2:16-17 it says, "Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ."
Sunday, August 17, 2008
This highlights the hollowness of the forgiveness of sins given by anyone other than God. Of course it is much easier to SAY that sins are forgiven than to say to a paralysed man "get up and walk". It is impossible to actually fogive sins (unless you are Jesus) but very easy to say they are forgiven. Forgiveness is not really varyfied untill the next life. Saying to a criple, "get up and walk" and then having him stay crippled would expose the fraud. Jesus was not and is not a fraud. He healed the cripple, just as he forgave the sin and saved him.