Is There A Dragon In Your Nativity Set?

Here’s an article that was on the HopeForLife.org blog on Sunday and Heartlight Magazine today:

Last year I bought myself a nativity set. It’s a colorful scene, based on drawings from a children’s Bible. It has Mary and Joseph, with a little baby Jesus. It has shepherds and wise men. It has an angel and several animals.

But it’s missing something. There’s no dragon. Every nativity set needs a red dragon.

If you don’t remember that part of the story, you might want to read chapter 12 of Revelation. The writer, John, sees a woman about to give birth who is being threatened by a red dragon. The dragon wants to devour the infant, but the baby and the woman are rescued.

We could talk a lot about the interpretation of each symbol, but John, the author, leaves no doubt as to who the child is. He says, “She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter.” (Revelation 12:5) That’s language used in the Bible to describe Jesus himself. (See Psalm 2, for example)

Why would there be a dragon at Jesus’ birth? Because Jesus came into this world in the middle of conflict. His birth was a joyous time for his parents, but also one of hardship and fear. Their family was shuffled about from Nazareth to Bethlehem to Egypt and back to Nazareth, moved by political forces beyond their control. People suffered and died because this baby came into the world.

There was a red dragon. Not a literal one, of course. The dragon is a symbol of that great enemy of God, Satan. Specifically, the dragon is Satan working through King Herod to try and exterminate the newborn King of the Jews.

The red dragon has a place in the nativity story. The dragon reminds us why we needed a Savior in the first place. John tells us that the dragon is the ancient serpent that deceives the whole world. (Revelation 12:9) He is the tempter that brought about the fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden. Through his lies, sin came into the world.

The dragon is part of the story. Without it, a nativity scene can be too clean, a bit too perfect. We need to remember the sin and suffering. We need to remember why we needed a Savior. And still need one today.

So I may have some more shopping to do. I need a dragon for my nativity set.

Hark, The Herald Angels Sing

Aurora_consurgens_blackangelHark the herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled”
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim:
“Christ is born in Bethlehem”
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Christ by highest heav’n adored
Christ the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold Him come
Offspring of a Virgin’s womb
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris’n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Why December 25>

I’d always heard that December 25 became Christmas because Christians were trying to “sanctify” a Roman feast. However, an article by Andrew McGowan changed my mind.

McGowan notes the lack of ancient Christian writings that mention using that feast date for Christmas. This theory wasn’t mentioned until the 12th century!

Instead, the earliest explanations point to another reason. Here’s what McGowan says:

 Around 200 C.E. Tertullian of Carthage reported the calculation that the 14th of Nisan (the day of the crucifixion according to the Gospel of John) in the year Jesus diedc was equivalent to March 25 in the Roman (solar) calendar. March 25 is, of course, nine months before December 25; it was later recognized as the Feast of the Annunciation—the commemoration of Jesus’ conception. Thus, Jesus was believed to have been conceived and crucified on the same day of the year. Exactly nine months later, Jesus was born, on December 25.

This idea appears in an anonymous Christian treatise titled On Solstices and Equinoxes, which appears to come from fourth-century North Africa. The treatise states: “Therefore our Lord was conceived on the eighth of the kalends of April in the month of March [March 25], which is the day of the passion of the Lord and of his conception. For on that day he was conceived on the same he suffered.” Based on this, the treatise dates Jesus’ birth to the winter solstice.

Personally, I’m going to quit talking about the “occupied feast date” as a fact,” and I’ll offer the above possible solution.

What do you think?

No one sings it like Boris Karloff

Someone, somewhere, thought it would be a good idea to take some of the best Dr. Seuss stories and make movies “based” on them, movies which have almost nothing to do with the original story. OK, that’s my rant.

On the other hand, we can still enjoy animated versions that actually reflect what Theodor Seuss Geisel wrote. Here’s one of my favorite moments from the good doctor’s Christmas story:

Note: Yeah, I know that Boris didn’t actually do the singing. It was a man named Thurl Ravenscroft, who was also the voice of Tony the Tiger.

Paying for Twelve Days of Christmas

Well, the twelve days of Christmas are just over a fortnight away, so it’s time to think about how to regale your true love.

According to PNC Wealth Management, it’s going to cost you more this year. Again. They put the total at approximately $25, 431.18. Better start saving your pennies.

They’ve got a cute website about the gifts: www.PNCChristmasPriceIndex.com