collected reflections on Christmas

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Here are some various online theological reflections I have stumbled over in the past while. Enjoy!

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  • I’d recommend you drop on over to “…A Resch Like Me” to read the thought- provoking and challenging reflections on “A Wal-mart Christmas.” I love Dustin’s concept of the “broken witness” to Christmas.
  • On a more technical side of things, you might be interested in the article by Ross Hastings on Christianity.ca entitled, “What DNA Matter Did the Baby Jesus Have?” Hastings follows Calvin on this question over Zwingli or Barth (though I wonder whether he got Barth’s position exactly right…I’ll have to look further into this). 
  • Last year Philip Yancey provided a brief review of an ancient debate between Duns Scotus and Thomas Aquinas on whether Christmas would have occurred if humanity had not sinned. See his article on the Christianity Today website called Ongoing Incarnation. You can also find an article there reviewing some of the current astronomical theories about what the star of Bethelehem may have been.
  • In terms of Christmas hymns, did you know that the original lyrics and music to “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” (written by Charles Wesley in 1739) were not the same as the ones we sing? In fact, the opening verse is, 
Hark, how all the welkin rings,
“Glory to the King of kings;
peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!”

 

(You can find all 10 of the original stanzas here.)

What in the world is a “welkin” you ask? Why, I’m glad you asked! It is the celestial sphere in which the astronomical objects like stars are planets were believed to reside. So for Wesley, it is not “herald angels” that are singing glory to the King, but the celestial heavens! (Apparently it was George Whitefield who changed the words to “Herald angels”!) As far as the tune, it is attributed to Felix Mendelssohn.  For more on this, see here  and the Wikipedia article  here.

  • In lieu of me personally coming up with anything new on the topic, you might also be interested in some “Xmas reflections” I had and which were published online for  a couple of years ago. Let me know what you think of my “In defence of ‘Xmas.'” 
  • Last, my collection of Christmas reflections would be incomplete without at least one Christmas joke. 

A Rabbi and a Catholic priest had spent hours debating the theological legitimacy of Christmas. Not surprisingly, neither was won to the other side. However, as Christmas Day approached, the priest was surprised one day when he received a Christmas Card in the mail from none other than the Rabbi. When he opened it up, he read:
Roses are red
Violets are bluish
When the real Messiah comes
You’ll wish you were Jewish!

If you have any further interesting Christmas links (whether serious or not so serious), let us know!

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One thought on “collected reflections on Christmas

  1. those are some fantastic links. I think about the Duns Scotus v Augustine dilemma a lot and definitely come down on the side of Duns Scotus. I’d be interested to know your opinion? Also I thought the idea of Christmas with or without the fall went way back before him, like to Irenaeus or Athanasius? I also love thinking about what the star of Bethlehem was. Man, there is so much to think about with Christmas. What an incredible thing it celebrates, and it is interesting to think that the time of the year with the most hoopla is at best a “broken witness” (definitely Dustin coined a good phrase there).

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