1. Present experience One of the things that has encouraged me in my ministry has been the courage of the prophets. One of their principle roles was to remind the people to live faithfully for God and to reject any ‘moral’ standard that opposed what He had revealed. Often the prophets were vigorously opposed as they declared what God had revealed. They were prepared to confront the ruling powers that were leading people away from God and they challenged the people to be faithful to God’s revealed truth.
They never preached compromise!
Isaiah didn’t mince his words when he declared, ‘Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter’ (Isaiah 5:20).
Amos was told by the leading priest in Israel told Amos, ‘Get out, you seer! Go back to the land of Judah. Earn your bread there and do your prophesying there’ (Amos 7:12).
Jeremiah, during his 40 years of ministry was physically attacked, insulted, imprisoned in a hole in the ground, and put on trial for the things he preached were not what the people wanted to hear. The king even destroyed the scroll containing God’s word that Jeremiah had written, but God told Jeremiah to rewrite it.
All those men were threatened and abused because their preaching did not agree with moral and religious values of their day.
(December 9, 2018) Dr Jim McClure, straight shooting theologian, once again challenges us to think outside the proverbial box…
I admit it! There is no such word as ‘Christmyth’ in the English dictionary but I have formed it to make a point of contrast.
The word ‘Christmas’ is first found in Old English, in 1038 and was called Cristes Maesse. It referred to the festival that celebrated the coming of Christ into the world. Maesse, which means ‘dismissal’, refers to the sending out of the worshippers who had celebrated the good news of the birth of the Saviour.
I find that to be so appropriate for the message of the Incarnation is one of redemption and hope that Christians need to ‘go and share’ throughout the world.
My ‘made-up’ word ‘Christmyth’ refers to what I see to be the dominant expression of the festival today. A glorious, unrepeatable, rescue event expressing the loving heart of God has been transformed into a happy myth-laden tale with jolly Santas, red-nosed reindeers and fun!
And in so many ways the church has bought into this sanitised and shallow version of the biblical story by placing an emphasis on the sweet baby in a manger, the heavenly choirs and the ‘silent night.’
Don’t misunderstand me. I really am not a Grinch! I too enjoy the ‘myth.’ At Christmas time it is so good to see the excitement in the eyes of children and the coming together of friends and families and the singing of the old familiar carols. But I sense that along the way we have so developed the ‘myth’ of Christmas that we have sold-out on the essential truth of the event.
(December 19, 2017) Dr Jim McClure respected theologian, shares a Christ-centred Christmas word…
Today millions of Jews around the world are almost at the conclusion of the celebration of Hanukkah – which relates to something that occurred 2156 years ago.
It celebrates the recapture of Jerusalem and the rededication of the temple after the Syrian ruler, Antiochus, killed thousands of Jews, banned Jewish worship, prohibited the reading of the scriptures, sacrificed pigs on the altar and refused the Jews to practise the ceremonial laws of their religion.
A group of Jews, under the leadership of Judas Maccabeus, formed a band of guerrillas to fight against the much stronger and larger army of Antiochus – and they won!Jerusalem was liberated, the temple was cleansed, a new altar was built and the temple was rededicated in 139 BC. A new lampstand had to be made as the beautiful golden lampstand had been stolen from the temple by the Syrians.
Only pure fresh olive oil was ever used to provide the light on the temple’s lampstand… this is where the story gets really interesting. Only a small jar of pure olive oil could be found, sufficient for keeping the lamp lit for only one day.But apparently, miraculously, it burned for eight days until new oil was again available. That event is still celebrated over an eight day period today and it is also called The Festival of Lights. That eight day period this year is celebrated between the 12th and 20th of December.
I mention this because of the proximity of the Festival of Lights celebration to the Christian celebration of Christmas, and also because, while Hanukkah celebrates the miraculous gift of oil that provided light in the temple for eight days, at Christmas we celebrate the inexpressible gift of Jesus Christ, who is the light of the world. (more…)
Question: Of what relevance is the celebration of Christmas today?
Dr Jim McClure, noted theologian, responds:
Christmas is a special time! It means many things to many people but for the Christian its primary meaning is that God ‘sent his one and only Son into the world’ (1 John 4:9) on a mission to save a humanity that was broken, lost and without hope.
At Christmas time Isaiah 9:2 is often read – ‘The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.’ Traditionally ‘darkness’ has been used in various cultures to signify evil, oppression and depression. In the Bible, particularly, the word is used symbolically of those things that are opposed to God. (more…)