Seeking Early

Location: Camden, Maine, United States

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Christmas Favorites!

Our Christmas series for this year has been "Christmas is about Believing!" We have been challenged by the opening message to "Embrace Your King." Then each succeeding message has been another point of substance we should embrace and believe; "Embrace Your Need," "Embrace Your Bible," "Embrace Your Joy," and this Lord's Day will be "Embrace God's Promises." The annual Christmas series of messages has become a Christmas favorite for me. I look forward to the study of the Lord's Word and then preaching it to our dear ones at Cornerstone.

My favorite Christmas treat to hand out is the candy cane. We give one out to everyone in town, at least until we run out, at the town's annual Christmas by the Sea celebration. Our choir selects some strategic places in town to sing, and we have a company of people who hand out our annual Christmas message and invitation to services. Of course attached to each one is a candy cane. They get Good News and something good and sweet to eat too. My wife and I give them to our kids at church the Sunday before Christmas too.

Wikipedia says: The candy cane was originally a straight, hard, and all-white candy stick. The cane shape is traditionally credited to a choirmaster at Cologne Cathedral in Germany, who, legend has it, in 1670 bent straight sugar sticks into canes to represent a shepherd's staff, and gave them to children at church services. Whether the choirmaster had the "Good Shepherd" in mind is unknown. Another theory is, as people decorated their Yule trees with food, the bent candy cane was invented as a functional solution. Peppermint candy with red stripes first appeared in the mid-19th century in the Swedish town of Gränna, and striped candy canes in the early 20th century.

I like the legend that has developed. It is a good object lesson to use. It is said that its shape is like the letter “J” in Jesus’ name. It is also in the shape of the shepherds’ crook, symbolic of how Jesus, like the “Good Shepherd” watches over his children like little lambs. It is a hard candy, solid like a “rock”, the foundation of the Church. The flavor of peppermint is similar to another member of the mint family, hyssop. In the Old Testament hyssop was used for purification and sacrifice, and this is said to symbolize the purity of Jesus and the sacrifice he made.

Some say the white of the candy cane represents the purity of Jesus and his virgin birth. The bold red stripe represents God’s love. The three fine stripes are said by some to represent the Holy Trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. While others say it represents the blood of He shed on Calvary
. From “The History of the Candy Cane,” author unknown.

My favorite Christmas song, at least for this year, is "That Beautiful Name!" I like Christmas songs that describe something about our Lord's character and reason for His coming. This is one of my favorite lines from this Christmas hymn; ". . . my sins nailed Him there, my burdens He bare, He suffered all this for me."

My favorite Christmas Card is one sent to Barbara and I by some dear friends from her childhood. It is a picture of a Christmas tree with a nail hanging on it. Isn’t that picture of what Christmas is really about? Our loving God sent His only begotten Son to die by being nailed to the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. That is why we are passing out nails to our church family tomorrow with a scarlet thread, as a reminder of His shed blood in our behalf. With the scarlet thread they can hang them in their homes as a Christmas reminder of the Lord‘s purpose for coming.

From Barbara and myself, Do, indeed, have a very Blessed Christmas!

Have a wonderful day serving our Wonderful Lord, By Grace Alone!