Volume 1 No. 43 December 15, 2011 If the Journal is not displayed properly, click on the link below (or copy and paste) to read from web
Table of Contents
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After, what it looks like a long Advent season filled
with anticipation and mystery, the Christmas Day is finally within our
reach. This Sunday, the Sunday before Christmas, the Holy Church looks at
the Genealogy of Jesus Christ. St. Matthew's Gospel begins with a list of x
begat y and y begat z etc. When I was young, if I came across this portion,
I used to skip fast to another section; no one wants to hear these long list
of names. I am sure this is also true with the average laity in our church.
In researching this week's lectionary readings and that for Christmas, I came across a wealth of bible study material that, frankly, blew my head. Finally, it dawned on me the importance of these long list of names and why Matthew and Luke went through all the research needed to compile these names. I strongly recommend that you read the articles in today's sermons as well the Malankara World Special Supplement for Christmas. I can assure you that your time will be well spent and you will have a better appreciation for the bible and its inspired content.
If you recall, our themes for the incarnation of God were, 'promises kept' and 'God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things.' This week's bible study further elaborates these themes. Both Matthew and Luke shows that Jesus Christ was born in the lineage of David, as promised:
"When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his Father, and he shall be My son. If he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the blows of the sons of men. But My mercy shall not depart from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever" (2 Samuel 7:12-16). God repeated this promise in Psalm 89:34-37.
If we look through Jesus' long list of ancestors, we find a long number of people we don't recognize. They were just ordinary people. There were 5 women mentioned. Thee of them had shady backgrounds and one of them had gentile origins! The people in Jesus' historic lineage were a part of fallen humanity. For example:
We are reminded of the shameful story of Judah, the son of Jacob who begot Perez and Zerah through incest with his daughter-in-law Tamar (v. 3). We'll find Rahab who was a harlot (v. 5). We'll find that David begot his son Solomon through his adulterous affair with "her who had been the wife of Uriah" (v. 6). We'll find Solomon, whose heart was drawn away from God into idolatry by his many foreign wives (v. 7). We'll find Rehoboam, whose pride and arrogance caused the nation of Israel to be split in two (v. 7). We'll find Uzziah, who died in shame as a leper because he dared to enter the temple of God and offer an unlawful offering (v. 9). We know of Ahaz who fell into gross idolatry (v. 9). We also find the murderous Manasseh, who so filled the land of Israel with bloodshed that God cast him out of the land (v. 10). We read of Jeconiah, whose rebelliousness led to the people of Israel being carried off in captivity to Babylon (v 11).
WOW, an impressive list, isn't it! What does this tell us? That Christ descended from sinners. That Christ entered the sinful human race. That He Who knew no sin entered humanity and its sin for our sakes. That He humbled Himself.
By highlighting both women and Gentiles – even one woman who was considered so bad as to remain un-named – Matthew is forcing us to accept the fact that eternal life is available to everyone. I’m sure every one of us feels a sense of comfort in that; no matter what we have done or how bad we’ve been, God’s grace is abundant for every one of us. The power of the cross is not just for only a certain type of person; we can find the Spirit at work in the hearts of every single person in the entire world. And that is truly something to praise God for!
As we reflect on today's text and the essays we have provided, we cannot but marvel at the elaborate plans God had made for saving mankind and the wisdom behind it. The message continues to be "promises kept" and "ordinary people have great role play in God's kingdom."
We wish you all a Merry Christmas!
This Sunday in Church (Dec 18)
Sunday Before Christmas
Sunday Before Christmas
We have greatly expanded our Sermon Resources. The sermon collection now includes general and classical sermons. This will give a broader appeal to the Gospel Reading for the week. We also added bible commentaries for the bible reading to facilitate study and meditation. Please check it out.
Malankara World Christmas Supplement
Malankara World Christmas Supplement is our Christmas gift to you. Has plenty of articles on Christmas, devotionals, prayers, homilies and sermons and bible studies. In addition, there are also plenty of Christmas stories, Inspirational stories, articles on handling the stress during the holiday season, tips on celebrating Christmas on a budget, recipes for delicious Christmas dishes and plenty more. Please visit: Malankara World Christmas Supplement - http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Seasonal/Christmas/Default.htm
This Week's Features
|Inspiration for Today|
by Rev. Fr. Andrew
On Christmas Eve and Day we celebrate the reception of a gift. We received the gift, for nothing is greater than God. In the midst of our busy cleaning, eating, returning and more; do we stop and think: what does this gift, the gift of God mean? What does it mean that God chose a human being to save humanity? What does it mean that Jesus had a divine will and a human will united within one person? What does it mean that Jesus was raised in the quiet of a poor human family for 30 years?
God deliberately chose a family to rear, teach, and love the Son until He began His saving work at the age of thirty. God deliberately chose a frail human: body, mind and soul for His own in Jesus Christ, Emmanuel. This means there must be some higher good, some higher aim for us as human beings within human relationships. We know that our humanity is weak, we know that we are sinners and yet God chose that same humanity for Himself to show us what more we can desire from our human life.
One of the most important thing for newlyweds to do is to simply be with each other. From that simple appreciation they grow in wonder and awe that each would choose the other and truly become a beautiful couple. By coming to us in human flesh, God has wedded His divinity to our humanity. We must spend time in these twelve days of Christmas wondering what this great gift means.
Christian salvation isn’t simply a matter for the end of our life, for our deathbed, but is something that can season and change our whole life. This is why our enemy, Satan, opposes us- not simply in going to Christmas Mass but in even thinking about what Christmas means. Jesus was true God and true man from the first moment of His conception in the Virgin's womb. In the life of Jesus from conception to death and the resurrection, God shows us what human life can be. Our own life will be richer, our own humanity more truly human, if we make the time this Christmas to read, to pray, and to wonder.
by Mark A. Copeland
1. We begin our study by reading the first seventeen verses of Matthew (Mt 1:1-17)
2. In 2Ti 3:16-17, we are told that ALL scripture is profitable
3. My objective will be to share some spiritual thoughts that can be gleaned from this scripture
[Since Matthew is the only one of the four gospel writers to begin his gospel with a genealogical record of Jesus, let me first suggest a reason why...]
I. WHY MATTHEW BEGINS WITH THIS GENEALOGY
A. IT IS CONSISTENT WITH THE NATURE AND PURPOSE OF HIS GOSPEL...
1. It has been observed that:
2. Matthew's gospel was designed to convince Jews that Jesus is the
B. TO SHOW THAT JESUS FULFILLS TWO MESSIANIC PREREQUISITES...
1. The Messiah had to be a descendant of Abraham - cf. Gen 22:18
2. The Messiah had to be a descendant of David - cf. Isa 11:1-2, 10
[Whatever else Jesus may have done, if He was not a descendant of Abraham and David, He could not be the Messiah. So a gospel directed especially to the Jews would naturally settle this issue before proceeding. Now let's note some...]
II. SIGNIFICANT FEATURES OF THIS GENEALOGY
A. THE WAY IT IS DIVIDED...
1. Into three sections of fourteen names each - Mt 1:17
-- This may have been to facilitate committing to memory
2. Which may explain why some names were omitted
-- The main purpose was to establish essential connections, not minor details
B. JESUS' "LEGAL" RIGHT TO DAVID'S THRONE IS ESTABLISHED...
1. Not His "fleshly" right, for Matthew describes Jesus as the adopted son of Joseph
2. Luke records the "fleshly" ancestry of Jesus in Lk 3:23-38
-- A careful study of Lk 3 confirms this
3. This helps to answer a puzzling dilemma found in the OT
4. So Jesus is both "legal" and "fleshly" heir to the throne of
C. THE INSERTION OF FOUR MOTHER'S NAMES...
1. They are unique, not only to be included in such a list, but in
2. Why mention these four women? Perhaps to suggest...
[Whether this was Matthew's intention here, he does illustrate later that Christ extended mercy to the morally repugnant and would enlarge His kingdom to include all nations.
Finally, let's consider...]
III. LESSONS TO BE LEARNED FROM THIS GENEALOGY
A. GOD ALWAYS KEEPS HIS WORD...
1. He made promises...
...and the coming of Jesus, son of David, son of Abraham, fulfilled that promise!
2. We can therefore have confidence that God will keep His word!
B. GODLINESS IS NOT INHERITED...
1. Many godly fathers have had ungodly sons!
2. As it has been said, "God has no grandchildren"
C. THE GREATNESS OF OUR LORD'S MERCY AND COMPASSION...
1. Jesus humbled Himself when He came to this earth in the likeness of men - cf. Php 2:5-8
2. He did this for our sakes!
1. All this and much more, Jesus did by becoming what the first seventeen verses of Matthew's gospel proclaims: "...the Son of David, the Son of Abraham"
2. This genealogy of Jesus Christ...
Have you received the mercy God offers through "Jesus Christ...the Son of David, the Son of Abraham"?
Source: Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011
Lesson 17: Prayer in Harmony With the Being of God
|[Editor's Note: Here is this week's lesson from the book, 'With Christ in the School of Prayer' by Andrew Murray. This book is a very important reference book on intercessional prayer, something Orthodox Church believes in greatly. Murray skillfully describes the role of the Holy Spirit within the church and exhorts Christians to use the blessings God has given us. This book is a guide to living a life as a temple of the Holy Spirit. If you have missed the earlier lessons, please read them in Malankara World.]|
...that we should grow up into an insight into the Divine wisdom and beauty of all His ways and words and works.
In the New Testament we find a distinction made between faith and knowledge. 'To one is given, through the Spirit, the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge, according to the same Spirit; to another faith, in the same Spirit.' In a child or a simple-minded Christian there may be much faith with little knowledge.
Childlike simplicity accepts the truth without difficulty, and often cares little to give itself or others any reason for its faith but this: God has said. But it is the will of God that we should love and serve Him, not only with all the heart but also with all the mind; that we should grow up into an insight into the Divine wisdom and beauty of all His ways and words and works.
How can the action of prayer be harmonized with the will and the decrees of God?
It is only thus that the believer will be able fully to approach and rightly to adore the glory of God's grace; and only thus that our heart can intelligently apprehend the treasures of wisdom and knowledge there are in redemption, and be prepared to enter fully into the highest note of the song that rises before the throne: 'O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!'
In our prayer life this truth has its full application. While prayer and faith are so simple that the new-born convert can pray with power, true Christian science finds in the doctrine of prayer some of its deepest problems. In how far is the power of prayer a reality? If so, how God can grant to prayer such mighty power? How can the action of prayer be harmonized with the will and the decrees of God?
The more earnestly and reverently we approach such mysteries, the more shall we in adoring wonder fall down to praise Him who hath in prayer given such power to man.
How can God's sovereignty and our will, God's liberty and ours, be reconciled?—these and other like questions are fit subjects for Christian meditation and inquiry. The more earnestly and reverently we approach such mysteries, the more shall we in adoring wonder fall down to praise Him who hath in prayer given such power to man.
One of the secret difficulties with regard to prayer,—one which, though not expressed, does often really hinder prayer,—is derived from the perfection of God, in His absolute independence of all that is outside of Himself. Is He not the Infinite Being, who owes what He is to Himself alone, who determines Himself, and whose wise and holy will has determined all that is to be? How can prayer influence Him, or He be moved by prayer to do what otherwise would not be done?
In seeking an answer to such questions, we find the key in the very being of God, in the mystery of the Holy Trinity.
Is not the promise of an answer to prayer simply a condescension to our weakness? Is what is said of the power—the much-availing power—of prayer anything more than an accommodation to our mode of thought, because the Deity never can be dependent on any action from without for its doings? And is not the blessing of prayer simply the influence it exercises upon ourselves?
In seeking an answer to such questions, we find the key in the very being of God, in the mystery of the Holy Trinity. If God was only one Person, shut up within Himself, there could be no thought of nearness to Him or influence on Him. But in God there are three Persons. In God we have Father and Son, who have in the Holy Spirit their living bond of unity and fellowship.
The asking of the Son was no mere show or shadow, but one of those life-movements in which the love of the Father and the Son met and completed each other.
When eternal Love begat the Son, and the Father gave the Son as the Second
Person a place next Himself as His Equal and His Counsellor, there was a way
opened for prayer and its influence in the very inmost life of Deity itself.
Just as on earth, so in heaven the whole relation between Father and Son is that
of giving and taking. And if that taking is to be as voluntary and
self-determined as the giving, there must be on the part of the Son an asking
and receiving. ....
by Rabbi Yonason Goldson
It is a convention of biblical scholarship that scripture sometimes presents seemingly contradictory information that forces us to evaluate the misdeeds of extraordinary people in the context of their times and circumstances. To warn us against superficially interpreting David's episode with Bathsheba, the Talmud records the oral tradition that, "Anyone who says that David sinned is in error." 1
Even without the Talmud's admonition, it is impossible to reconcile the simple reading of the text with Torah law. According to Jewish law, an adulteress is forbidden to marry a man with whom she committed adultery, even after divorce or the death of her husband. 2 Any descendant from such a union would be a mamzer, i.e., illegitimate, and would thus be disqualified both from reigning as king and from marrying into the general community of permitted Jewish women. Because David remained married to Bathsheba after the incident without reprimand, and because their son, Solomon, was allowed to rule and perpetuate the messianic line, we have no choice but to conclude that David, whatever his sin may have been concerning Bathsheba, did not commit adultery. 3
A number of details concerning Bathsheba are not addressed by scripture. Early in his reign, David had decreed that every soldier must give his wife a get, a divorce document, stipulating that if he did not return after the war the woman would be considered divorced retroactively to the giving of the get. David instituted this practice to protect every soldier's wife from the unfortunate status of agunah, a woman prohibited from marrying because her husband is missing in action but not confirmed to be dead.
Consequently, when Uriah, a soldier in David's army, did not return home from the war, the get he had given to his wife, Bathsheba, rendered her technically divorced from before the time of David's first involvement with her. 4
Furthermore, Uriah and Bathsheba had never consummated their marriage, indicating some severe dysfunction in their relationship. 5 Although this would not by any means justify adultery, it does suggest a motive—other than Uriah's stated reason of empathy for his fellow soldiers—for Uriah's refusal to comply with David's order to return home to his wife. 6
When Uriah was called before David, he made reference to his general as "my master, Joab" (2 Samuel 11:11). Although this form of address would have been proper in the presence of his commanding officer, referring to anyone other than the king as master in the presence of the king himself constituted an act of rebellion punishable by death. 7 Uriah also disobeyed David's order to return home to his wife. 8 On two separate counts, therefore, Uriah placed himself in the category of mored b'malchus, a rebel against the king. As such, Uriah forfeited his life immediately since the extralegal powers of the monarch include the authority to invoke the death penalty upon rebels without the due process of law. 9
Undeniably, the law gave David the right to bring Uriah before the Sanhedrin and demand his execution. Nevertheless, David worried (for good reason) that the people would question the integrity of a king who ordered a man's death and immediately married his widow, and David sought to avoid the public appearance of conspiracy and impropriety when he married Bathsheba. 10 Therefore, rather than demanding Uriah's execution from the Sanhedrin, David instructed his general, Joab, to arrange Uriah's death in battle. 11
It is clear, therefore, that David was neither an adulterer nor a murderer. Indeed, when the prophet Nathan presented David with the parable of the rich man who stole the poor man's sheep, he alluded to theft but to neither murder nor adultery. 12 Had David been truly guilty of murdering Uriah, what possible explanation could there have been for the prophet to employ a parable that implied theft but not murder? Continue Reading in Malankara World http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Reading/Essays_david-and-bathsheba.htm
by Greg Laurie
A little girl noticed that her mom was getting really stressed out around Christmas. Everything was bothering her mom, and she was very irritable.
Evening came and the mom bathed the little girl, got her ready for bed, put her under the covers, and had her say her prayers. She would usually pray the Lord's Prayer, but on this particular evening, she amended it a little bit.
Her petition went something like this, "Father, forgive us our Christmases, as we forgive those who Christmas against us."
That is what happens when we lose focus of the real meaning of Christmas, isn't it? We get so caught up in the busyness of the season that sometimes we forget the wonder of it all: that deity took on humanity, that God became a man.
Scripture sums it up well in 2 Corinthians 8:9, which says, "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich" (NKJV). Jesus literally went from the throne of heaven to a simple little cave or stable.
Can you imagine what must have gone through Mary's mind that day when the angel Gabriel appeared to her and told her she would be the mother of the Messiah? Her head must have been swimming. "What about Joseph? What are people going to say?"
But God had it all put together, because the time was just right in every way.
There was one small detail: the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem, as Scripture prophesied (see Micah 5:2). But Mary and her husband-to-be Joseph lived in Nazareth. So the Lord touched a little man who was big in his own mind.
His name was Caesar, and at this particular time in history, he was the most powerful man on Earth. One day, Caesar gave a decree that all of the world should be taxed.
In reality, he was nothing more than a pawn in the hand of God. The Lord needed Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem, so He moved events.
Mary and Joseph made the difficult journey to Bethlehem, which was especially perilous for a woman who was as far along in her pregnancy as Mary was. But they did make it, and there, the miraculous birth of Christ took place, just as Scripture said it would.
This little baby grew up quickly, and although we would love to know more about his boyhood, the Bible offers only a few details.
But we do read of one day in the synagogue in Nazareth when, as the custom was, the time had come for Jesus to read. He walked to the front of the synagogue, opened up the scroll, and began to read from Isaiah: " 'The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord' " (Luke 4:18–19 NLT).
When He had finished, He sat down and said, "Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing" (verse 21). He had declared himself the Messiah. His public ministry had begun.
This One who was sent from God was always in perfect sync with the Father. While He spoke with the learned spiritual leaders, He always had time for the outcasts of society—people like the woman at the well and the tax collector, Zacchaeus. People like you. People like me.
His ministry on Earth was only a few years, and then He was crucified. You can be sure that as He hung there on the cross, where all of the sin of humanity was placed upon Him, that this was God's most painful moment.
But then it was finished. He rose again from the dead, and after a time, ascended back into heaven, promising to come back to this earth. And we eagerly await that day.
This Jesus who was born in a manger, who walked this earth, who was crucified, and who rose again, is not some mere historical figure, although He was that. He is alive, and He is still in the business of changing lives.
That is the reason He came: to put us in touch with God, to forgive us of all of our sins, and to give our lives purpose and meaning.
Copyright ©2011by Harvest Ministries. All Rights Reserved.
by Bob Proctor
A guy named Bob May, depressed and brokenhearted, stared out his drafty apartment window into the chilling December night. His 4-year-old daughter, Barbara, sat on his lap quietly sobbing. Bobs wife, Evelyn, was dying of cancer. Little Barbara couldn't understand why her mommy could never come home. Barbara looked up into her dads eyes and asked, "Why isn't Mommy just like everybody else's Mommy?" Bob's jaw tightened and his eyes welled with tears. Her question brought waves of grief, but also of anger. It had been the story of Bob's life. Life always had to be different for Bob. Being small when he was a kid, Bob was often bullied by other boys. He was too little at the time to compete in sports. He was often called names he'd rather not remember.
From childhood, Bob was different and never seemed to fit in. Bob did complete college, married his loving wife and was grateful to get his job as a copywriter at Montgomery Ward during the Great Depression. Then he was blessed with his little girl. But it was all short-lived. Evelyn's bout with cancer stripped them of all their savings and now Bob and his daughter were forced to live in a two-room apartment in the Chicago slums. Evelyn died just days before Christmas in 1938. Bob struggled to give hope to his child, for whom he couldn't even afford to buy a Christmas gift. But if he couldn't buy a gift, he was determined a make one - a storybook!
Bob had created an animal character in his own mind and told the animal's story to little Barbara to give her comfort and hope. Again and again Bob told the story, embellishing it more with each telling. Who was the character? What was the story all about? The story Bob May created was his own autobiography in fable form. The character he created was a misfit outcast like he was. The name of the character? A little reindeer named Rudolph, with a big shiny nose.
Bob finished the book just in time to give it to his little girl on Christmas Day. But the story doesn't end there. The general manager of Montgomery Ward caught wind of the little storybook and offered Bob May a nominal fee to purchase the rights to print the book. Wards went on to print Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and distribute it to children visiting Santa Claus in their stores. By 1946, Wards had printed and distributed more than six million copies of Rudolph. That same year, a major publisher wanted to purchase the rights from Wards to print an updated version of the book. In an unprecedented gesture of kindness, the CEO of Wards returned all rights back to Bob May. The book became a best seller. Many toy and marketing deals followed and Bob May, now remarried with a growing family, became wealthy from the story he created to comfort his grieving daughter.
But the story doesn't end there either. Bob's brother-in-law, Johnny Marks, made a song adaptation to Rudolph. Though the song was turned down by such popular vocalists as Bing Crosby and Dinah Shore, it was recorded by the singing cowboy, Gene Autry. "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" was released in 1949 and became a phenomenal success, selling more records than any other Christmas song, with the exception of "White Christmas." The gift of love that Bob May created for his daughter so long ago kept on returning to bless him again and again. And Bob May learned the lesson, just like his dear friend Rudolph, that being different isn't so bad. In fact, being different can be a blessing!
by Sarah Hamaker
Need a little Christmas spirit that doesn't break the bank? Check out these low-cost and free ways to commemorate the reason for the season.
In these times of economic uncertainty, many of us yearn for a simpler, less stressful holiday season. "There is a universal wish to end the year with a festival of renewal that rekindles our faith, brings us closer to the people we care to ward off the commercial excesses of the season and create an authentic, joyful celebration in tune with our unique needs and desires," write authors Jo Robinson and Jean Coppock Staeheli in Unplug the Christmas Machine.
How can you accomplish this? First, think about what children really want for Christmas, such as time with family, an unhurried holiday and family and cultural traditions. Then keep your focus on the real meaning of Christmas.
Pick a few of the following low-cost and free ways to celebrate the season with our families and friends, or use the ideas as a starting place to create your own unique holiday traditions.
Christmas is More Than One Day
Want to enjoy Christmas all month long? Then check out these ideas for celebrating Dec. 1 through 25 and beyond.
Marking time. Advent calendars are a great way to help children count down to Christmas Day and to interject the true meaning of Christmas in the process. Have your children count off numbers and then rotate those numbers to avoid squabbles over whose turn is it to place the star of Bethlehem in the heavens. Cost: Low-cost or free.
Reading Christmas. Each Dec. 1, we get out our Christmas books and holiday movies. Each day during December, one child picks a book or movie for the entire family to watch or read together. Variations of this include wrapping the books and movies separate and having the kids pick something sight unseen. Rebekah Hammer of Tijunga, Calif., does this with her family. "Books can be gotten free or cheap on eBay, Paperbackswap or used book stores," she says. Also consider a holiday-themed book swap with friends to get an influx of new material or visit your library to snag some books to read. Cost: Low-cost to free.
Deck the Halls
Decorations can bring cheer to any occasion and Christmas is no exception. Check out these fun ideas that revolve around decorating your home.
Decorating party. Get the whole family involved in putting up the tree and other Christmas decorations by planning a specific time. Serve hot chocolate, play Christmas music and turn lose your decorating muse. Cost: Free.
Remembering our animal friends. Pop plain popcorn and string the popped kernels with fresh cranberries. Place the ropes on an outside tree or bush near a window and watch the birds enjoy their Christmas treat. 'Paint' pinecones with peanut or other nut butters, attach a string and hang up in a tree for the squirrels to enjoy. Cost: Low-cost.
A Musical Season
Music has a way of lifting hearts and getting everyone into the Christmas spirit. Here are some musical ways to enjoy your holiday season.
Caroling, caroling through the neighborhood. Gather together a group of songbirds from your family and friends for an afternoon or evening spent serenading neighbors. Practice four or five Christmas hymns and end the concert with "We Wish You a Merry Christmas." Consider visiting area nursing or retirement communities, hospitals or hospices and even your local mall (with permission!) to spread some holiday cheer. Cost: Free.
A musical Christmas evening. Sit by the tree and sing Christmas carols, have children or adults play Christmas favorites on instruments and read 'The Night Before Christmas' or other holiday poems or short books aloud. Serve holiday cookies and wassail to get into the spirit of the evening. Cost: Free.
Attend a Christmas concert or play. Many churches put on free, beautiful productions of the Christmas story in songs and plays. Call area houses of worship, check local newspaper listings, and ask family and friends for recommendations of performances. Cost: Free.
Christmas also can cheer up our lives with the many light displays that range from the simple to the eye-popping. Here are some suggestions for enjoying the brightness of the season.
Neighborhood lights. One evening, have everyone get into their pajamas and pile into the family car for a drive around the neighborhood to ogle the handiwork of your neighbors. Wrap up a plate of holiday baked goods to give to the owners of the house voted by your family as the most Christmasy. Cost: Free.
Light shows. Most localities have a light show within easy driving distance. These shows are generally in a park and feature large and innovative light displays. Weekends are peak visiting time, so if you don’t like crowds, pick a weekday evening. Our family has a tradition of going to see the local light show after Christmas to avoid the crush. Most venues charge by the car-load. Cost: Low-cost.
Handmade from the Heart
Here are some ideas for spreading Christmas cheer you can make yourself.
Ornaments. Tree ornaments can be made from almost anything, including things you have around the house. Most of the raw materials are inexpensive to purchase and instructions for a variety of homemade ornaments abound on the Internet. (Here’s a craft site with dozens of ideas.) Some ideas of things that can become tree decorations include clothespins, Mason jar lids, pine cones, lightweight photo frames, buttons, fabric scraps, etc. Cost: Low-cost.
Holiday cards. Have your little ones get creative and draw festive scenes, scan and print on card stock for handmade Christmas greetings. Using holiday stamps on card stock will work, too. Cost: Low-cost.
Homemade wrapping paper. Turn your kids loose with stamps, glitter, markers and their imagination on a roll of butcher paper and use it for wrapping presents. Cost: Low-cost.
Video cheer. Record an original family Christmas presentation with skits and songs. Make DVD copies and sent to far-off relatives and friends. “We live quite a distance form family,” says Deborah Tate of Lake Worth, Fla. “So to compensate, when our children were young, we always starred in our own homemade, family Christmas video production. The grandparents and everyone else always enjoyed seeing our family Christmas show.”
Christmas is Giving
At this time of year, it’s also important to focus on those who are struggling. Helping others can boost our own holiday spirits.
Adopt a family. If you’re able, consider sponsoring a family in need this holiday. Area nonprofit groups like food banks often have programs that link a needy family with a sponsor. Our family does this each year and our children love to go shopping for that family’s children. Cost: Low-cost.
Volunteer. Soup kitchens, food banks, and other nonprofit groups have need of extra hands during the holiday season, so consider signing up as a family to help out. Cost: free.
Smile. Just having a cheerful countenance can make someone’s day. Try to smile as you go about your errands. Treat each sales clerk and cashier with kindness. Don’t be a Scrooge with your face—smile. Cost: free.
When December 25 finally arrives, here are some ways to keep the true meaning of Christmas front and center.
Read the Christmas story. No matter which Gospel you pick, reading the Christmas story with your family around the tree can be a special time. Hearing the story of God incarnate becoming man sounds as fresh today as when it was new more than two centuries ago.
Birthday of Jesus. Singing "Happy Birthday" to Jesus or baking Jesus a birthday cake can help everyone remember Dec. 25 is celebrated as his birth date. Nancy Swarthout of Kasson, Minn., bakes a cake for Jesus at Christmas. "It reminds my family that Jesus is the reason for Christmas and it is not about Santa. We also say a special prayer before we have the cake thanking God for sending us his son," she says.
No matter how you celebrate Christmas, keep in mind that your family is not like anyone else's—and your holiday traditions don't have to be, either. Use these ideas to develop your own Christmas traditions and cherished holiday memories.
About the Author:
Sarah Hamaker is a freelance writer and editor, and author of Hired @ Home: The Christian Mother's Guide to Working From Home. She lives in Fairfax, Va., with her husband and four children, and loves to see the Christmas lights each season. Visit her at www.sarahhamaker.com. Source: Live It Devotional
[Editor's Note: There are several more articles on celebrating Christmas meaningfully in our Malankara World Christmas Supplement - http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Seasonal/Christmas/Default.htm ]
For many Americans, the thought of a morning without coffee is unbearable. More than half of adults drink it regularly, typically about three cups a day.
Most people rarely consider the side effects beyond restlessness, or trouble falling asleep at night. But coffee and espresso can have other consequences in people taking certain drugs, by either blocking absorption or enhancing their effects.
In many cases, caffeine causes the interactions. But other compounds in coffee may also play a role. Studies show that coffee consumption can affect more than a dozen medications as varied as antidepressants, estrogen, thyroid and osteoporosis drugs.
A study in 2008, for example, found that people who drank coffee shortly before or after taking levothyroxine, a common thyroid medication, experienced a reduction of up to 55 percent in absorption of the drug. Other studies have found that coffee can reduce absorption of osteoporosis drug alendronate by up to 60 percent and that it can lower circulating levels of estrogen and other hormones in women.
Some prescription drugs can enhance the effects of coffee and other caffeinated drinks. A number of these drugs, including some antidepressants, antibiotics and birth control pills block the enzyme known as CYP1A2, which helps metabolize caffeine.
As a result, caffeine may persist, in the body for several hours longer than normal. One study showed, for example, that women taking birth control pills held caffeine in the systems four hours longer than women who were not on the pill.
Source: New York Times
An easy holiday cookie recipe that is great for Christmas and New Year gatherings.
1 cup hazelnuts (or filberts)
Preheat oven to 350F (175 deg C).
Chop hazelnuts and place in blender or food processor. Buzz to a coarse flour, pour into a mixing bowl.
Buzz oatmeal in the blender to make a flour, add to the ground nuts. Add salt and spices.
Combine maple syrup and oil. Pour over dry ingredients and mix to coat evenly.
Form walnut-size balls and place on an oiled cookie sheet. Press cookies with thumb, making a small print to fill with jam. Fill each thumbprint with a half-teaspoon of jam.
Bake in 350F (175C) degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool before removing from tray and sampling.
Note: You can vary the ingredients to suit your taste. You can use walnuts or pecans instead of hazelnuts. Any flavor jam or preserves can be used. (Many companies now make them without sugar, using only fruit juice as the sweetener.)
Einstein was once traveling from Princeton on a train when the conductor came down the aisle, punching the tickets of every passenger. When he came to Einstein, Einstein reached in his vest pocket. He couldn't find his ticket, so he reached in his trouser pockets. It wasn't there, so he looked in his briefcase but couldn't find it. Then he looked in the seat beside him. He still couldn't find it. The conductor said, 'Dr. Einstein, I know who you are. We all know who you are. I'm sure you bought a ticket. Don't worry about it.' Einstein nodded appreciatively. The conductor continued down the aisle punching tickets. As he was ready to move to the next car, he turned around and saw the great physicist down on his hands and knees looking under his seat for his ticket. The conductor rushed back and said, 'Dr. Einstein, Dr. Einstein, don't worry, I know who you are. No problem. You don't need a ticket. I'm sure you bought one.' Einstein looked at him and said, 'Young man, I too, know who I am. What I don't know is where I'm going.'
This is awesome - I bet you didn't know this...
Letters 'a', 'b', 'c' & 'd' do not appear anywhere in the spellings of 1 to 99
Letters 'a', 'b'& 'c' do not appear anywhere in the spellings of 1 to 999
Letters 'b' &'c' do not appear anywhere in the spellings of1 to 999,999,999
Letter 'c' does not appear anywhere in in the spellings of entire English Counting!!
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