2 Corinthians 9:15

THE INDESCRIBABLE WONDER  

(November 29, 2020) Dr Jim McClure, straight shooting theologian, reflects on the full significance of next month’s spiritual highlight…

Christmas is quickly approaching.  Having grown up in in Ireland and then ministering in England, I was used to having Christmas as a mid-winter celebration and, I must admit, I miss that kind of Christmas atmosphere! But wherever we live, as Christians the most important thing we associate with Christmas is the birth of Jesus! Images readily spring to mind…

  • The newborn baby lying in a stable manger.
  • Mary and Joseph and the shepherds gazing in awe at the newborn child.
  • The visit of the wise men to the infant Jesus (although their timing was actually off by a couple of years)
  • Christmas carols playing a part in reinforcing this scenario.

A festival!
The surprising thing is that in the early church Christmas was not celebrated as a festival. I don’t mean that the first Christians didn’t believe that Jesus, God’s Son, was born in a stable in Bethlehem. Of course, they did. But in the first couple of centuries Christmas, as a festival, did not exist. In the early writings of Christians, there are no references to celebrating of Jesus’ birth while there are many references to celebrating his atoning death and glorious resurrection.  For example, about 20 years after the ascension of Jesus, Paul wrote to the Christians in Corinth, ‘Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival’ (1 Corinthians 5:7-8).

Why then was the birth of Jesus not also celebrated as a festival?  I’m sure that part of the reason was that no one was really sure of the exact date on which Jesus was born although after a few centuries the church, with some rather strange reasoning, settled on two possible dates – December 25 and January 6 – although both dates are probably wrong!

Eventually, almost 300 years after Jesus was born, people began actively to celebrate
his birth in mid-winter. (more…)

BAH! HUMBUG?

(December 13, 2019) Dr Jim McClure, straight shooting theologian, at our editorial request again shares his enlightening November article …

Christmas is just under two weeks away! Most people enjoy the season but you will always find some people who will mutter and complain about it.

One of the most famous is Ebenezer Scrooge, a character who was invented by Charles Dickens in his book A Christmas Carol.  Scrooge was a man who had a cranky and very negative outlook on life and his disapproval of Christmas was expressed in the words, ‘Bah! Humbug!

And I’ve met some Christians over the years whose attitude to Christmas is very ‘Scroogeish’ (if that is a word). What pops into your mind when you hear the word ‘Christmas’?

The Christmas atmosphere
There are so many things that we associate with Christmas today. Obviously we can’t avoid the secular interpretation of Christmas with Santa Claus and the Christmas tree and lights and presents (many of which we don’t particularly want) and all the other associated secular trappings.

I have to admit that I quite enjoy all that even though most of it bears little resemblance to the real significance of the event. And I also have to admit that, having grown up in the Northern Hemisphere, in Ireland and then ministering in England, where Christmas is a mid-winter celebration, I miss that kind of Christmas atmosphere.

 

But as Christians the first thing, and the most important thing, we associate with Christmas is the coming of Jesus because that’s what it is really all about. And so – (more…)

BAH! HUMBUG?

(November 25, 2019) Dr Jim McClure, straight shooting theologian, shares …

Christmas is almost with us again. Most people enjoy the season but you will always find some people who will mutter and complain about it.

One of the most famous is Ebenezer Scrooge, a character who was invented by Charles Dickens in his book A Christmas Carol.  Scrooge was a man who had a cranky and very negative outlook on life and his disapproval of Christmas was expressed in the words, ‘Bah! Humbug!

And I’ve met some Christians over the years whose attitude to Christmas is very ‘Scroogeish’ (if that is a word). What pops into your mind when you hear the word ‘Christmas’?

The Christmas atmosphere
There are so many things that we associate with Christmas today. Obviously we can’t avoid the secular interpretation of Christmas with Santa Claus and the Christmas tree and lights and presents (many of which we don’t particularly want) and all the other associated secular trappings.

I have to admit that I quite enjoy all that even though most of it bears little resemblance to the real significance of the event. And I also have to admit that, having grown up in the Northern Hemisphere, in Ireland and then ministering in England, where Christmas is a mid-winter celebration, I miss that kind of Christmas atmosphere.

 

But as Christians the first thing, and the most important thing, we associate with Christmas is the coming of Jesus because that’s what it is really all about. And so – (more…)

DON’T FORGET TO REMEMBER!

(November 10, 2018) Tomorrow, Sunday, is Remembrance Day and Dr Jim McClure, straight shooting theologian, reminds us to remember some important matters we should never forget…

100 years ago, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, World War 1 came to an end following a signing of an armistice between the Allies and Germany. After four and a half years of bitter fighting, which directly involved 32 countries and in which around 100 more participated in that bloody conflict with countless tragedies, peace was finally agreed.

Horrendous destructive trail
The war had lasted for 6 years and was now over. But what a horrendous trail it left in its wake. There was destruction everywhere. The human toll was truly overwhelming. It has been estimated that the total number of military and civilian casualties was around 40 million. Life would never be the same again for countless people whose families were torn apart, whose homes were reduced to ruins and whose countries were almost wiped off the face of the map. Wars had always played a gruesome role in human history but no war had ever before been more devastating than World War 1. It was truly the first global war.

Woodrow Wilson, the United States President at that time described it as ‘The war to end all wars.’ But it wasn’t! Twenty one years later and World War 2 began with even more sophisticated weaponry and once again Germany engaged the Allies and again another horrendous cacophony of hatred, lies, violence, inhumanity and destruction was visited upon the earth. Before it ended, around 80,000,000 people were dead. (more…)