Thursday, December 8, 2011

Christmas: A Study of Love - Part Two


Like me, you probably get overwhelmed with catalogs in the mail this time of year. Years ago, we received one that really caught the attention of one of the children. It had a picture of Mary and Joseph and the Baby Jesus on the front cover, but it was somehow very different. My son looked at it and said, "Look, Mom! They had a baby! Look at how happy they are!" Unlike so many other nativity scenes where Mary and Joseph have rather nondescript faces, this one showed them as parents getting a first good look at their new baby with utmost joy and pride and awe and love. Their expressions also reflected what I imagine God felt too—pride and love for His own Son.

We have tried to look back at the expectations we had before each baby was born—the joy, the fear, the concerns, and the love. As we talk about these feelings of expectation, we can connect them to the feelings of God's children as they heard for so many years about the coming of the Savior. And then, how Mary and Joseph must have felt with their own special knowledge about this baby and Who He was. You can celebrate Advent to take a close look at the prophecies, the birth, and what His coming means to you as Christians. We do things such as learning some of the prophecies of the Old Testament and having the older children find where each of these prophecies was fulfilled. God does keep His promises, doesn't He?

We also include some geography, following the path of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem, and try to understand what their trip was probably like. They had to travel about 70 miles over rough roads, using their feet and a donkey for transportation. It took them at least a week to make the journey. Contrast this for the children, using some other trip they remember that was about that far, and how you covered the distance in under two hours!

We study what the area was like during that time of year—quite a bit like where we lived in Florida—no snow! It would have been a warmer climate, and citrus would have been getting ripe, with plenty of olive, date, and palm trees. The children were so amazed to find out that the first Christmas weather was so much like ours. So then they asked, “Why do we associate so much snow with Christmas?”

Another big question: why do we celebrate Christmas on December 25, anyway? After hearing both sides of the argument over whether Christmas is a Christian or a pagan holiday, I decided to do some research of my own to include in the study, and the findings were very interesting. Before the fourth century, Jesus' birth was celebrated on January 6, along with the Epiphany. Then, as Christianity moved through Rome, legend has it that Pope Liberius of Rome researched historical records to try to establish the actual day of Christ's birth. Remember, the whole journey to Bethlehem was to participate in a census and pay appropriate taxes—there would be records kept. As a result of his work, the Pope decided to make December 25 the official day of celebrating Christ's birth.


Amanda B.

Read Christmas: A Study of Love: Part One.

Come join the Facebook Christmas Co-op as we learn and prepare for Christmas together this year.

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