Archive for December, 2009

A Birthday Wish

Friday, December 25th, 2009 by JEL

So today is the day we celebrate the birth of Jesus. I’m guessing all He wants for His birthday is for all of us to heed these words:

“This is my commandment, that you love one another, even as I have loved you.” – John 15:12

In return, here is the Christmas present we all should accept over the Wii:

“Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, give I to you. Don’t let your heart be troubled, neither let it be fearful.” – John 14:27

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009 by JEL

I’ve never been one to engage in the Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays debate. It all just seems a bit silly, especially when there are so many other topics to get worked up about. But search the Internet and you’ll see all sorts of examples of people claiming that a simple “Happy Holidays” greeting is an attack on Christianity, itself, while the other side finds “Merry Christmas” an inexcusable intolerance.

Here at What He Said, we just like to say “Merry Christmas.” It’s cheery, jolly, and when else do you get to use the word “merry” throughout the year? Just looking at the word puts me in a better mood. So, Merry Christmas, everyone and you can take that to mean whatever the spirit of the season holds for you.

Faces of Jesus

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009 by JEL

Maybe it’s the spirit of the Christmas season, but people around the globe are seeing the face of Jesus in strange places. A woman in Methuen, MA saw the image of Christ on the bottom of her iron, while Lisa Swinton in Australia discovered His image on a banana peel. They had differing reactions: the iron is being kept in a safe place, but the banana was eaten and the peel thrown away.

Wherever you encounter Jesus, we hope you remember His message of peace and goodwill to all. The world could use a heaping helping of both these days.

Nazareth Uncovered

Monday, December 21st, 2009 by JEL

In the Gospel of Luke (1:26-33) there is an account of the angel Gabriel visiting Mary. Given that we’re only four days away from Christmas, I thought it might be nice to share it here:

Now in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. Having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, you highly favored one! The Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women!” But when she saw him, she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered what kind of salutation this might be. The angel said to her, “Don’t be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb, and bring forth a son, and will call his name ‘Jesus.’ He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father, David, and he will reign over over the house of Jacob forever. There will be no end to his Kingdom.”

For those of you trying to picture this scene in your head, archaeologists might be able to lend a hand. They have just discovered the first dwelling in Nazareth dated to the time of Jesus. They describe Nazareth as an “out-of-the-way hamlet of around 50 houses on a patch of about four acres (1.6 hectares). It was evidently populated by Jews of modest means who kept camouflaged grottos to hide from Roman invaders.”

Shroud of Turin Takes Another Hit

Friday, December 18th, 2009 by JEL

Back in high school, one of my best friends did a history report on the Shroud of Turin. He was a smart guy and a good presenter and I remember a very lively debate among my classmates. This was before the radiocarbon dating done in 1988 that showed the linen fibers were from 1260-1390, so there was a lot less science and a great deal more mystery involved.

Archaeologists have recently discovered another shroud in Jerusalem that was from Jesus’ time and compared its weave with that of the Turin shroud. Turns out they are very different. The Turin shroud is woven in a complex twill pattern (not seen in that region until medieval times) while the “new” shroud is made from a simple weave.

The National Geographic covers the story of the new shroud and the leper it covered. Fascinating discovery.

“Jesus Junk”

Thursday, December 17th, 2009 by JEL

As consumers across the land are making their list and checking it twice (or is Santa the only one who does that?), I wonder how many Christian presents make the final cut. Christian products are sold to a tune of $4.6 billion each year, and it only stands to reason that a large percentage of that figure is derived during the Christmas season.

In reading this article, there is a fine line between respectable wares tied to a Christian theme and “Jesus Junk” that strains to find some connection to the latest fads and trends. I feel pretty comfortable that What He Said does not cross that line.

Bumper Stickers

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009 by JEL

With holiday shopping in full swing, I’m sure a lot of us have been staring at bumpers lately. Stuck in traffic, looking for a parking space at the mall, the red lights that never seem to go green. I saw some mildly amusing ones over the weekend which got me to thinking about my all-time favorite:

“Jesus Saves, Espo Scores on the Rebound”

Those of you not around or hockey-conscious during the Bruins’ heydays of the early 70s can catch up here.

The “Third Place”

Monday, December 14th, 2009 by JEL

There’s your home (that’s #1). Then there’s work (#2). What’s your #3? For some people, it’s their gym or the local Starbucks. It’s where they go to go to temporarily escape the stresses of #s 1 and 2 and simply unwind, refresh, and recharge.

Increasingly, churches are striving to become the new “third place.” And they’re finding new ways to roll out the hospitality carpet to new visitors and long-time members alike. Video games, coffee bars, cafés, and free WI-FI are attracting people outside the normal weekly services and fostering more connections within their communities. Learn more here.

Biblical allusions

Friday, December 11th, 2009 by PJM

My father often jokes that Jesus (and Shakespeare) only talked in clichés.

He is referring to the fact that much of the language from the Bible has been appropriated into our daily speech and cultural literary works. In fact, many readers of What He Said have marveled that certain phrases came from the Gospels and not from far more recent sources (like the speeches of Abraham Lincoln or the lyrics to a White Stripes song). In reviewing the nativity story from Luke, I was struck by the fact that Joseph and Mary offered a “pair of turtledoves” to Simeon in Jerusalem shortly after Christ’s birth.

Now I have to keep looking to figure out if three French hens show up anywhere in my reading.

The 25th

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009 by JEL

As December 25 quickly approaches, I, like many of you, am up to my eyeballs in shopping lists, tree tinsel, and back-order stress. Yes, Christmas is coming. I think many people forget, while deep in Xbox vs. Wii debates, that Christmas = Jesus’ birthday.

Should we really break out the candles on the 25th?

Matthew, Mark, Luke and John never mention the 25th as the birth date of Christ in their Gospels. So where did it come from? This article provides an answer.