What’s a Messianic Believer to do About Christmas? Part 2

Appropriate Christmas Celebration Ideas

What do Messianic believers, especially those of us Gentiles with Christian backgrounds, do with Christmas? This has been a question I have been wrestling with as a Gentile learning more about the very Jewish message of God’s salvation for some time. Here’s what I’ve come up with:

  1. When celebrating Christmas, focus on God’s forever gift to us, NOT what we want from someone else.
  2. Tell your children, grandchildren, or other young relations the story of St. Nicholas, NOT Santa Claus!
  3. Learn the significance of Hanukkah. Look for that information in a future post.
  4. Tell your family members and friends the story of Hanukkah and why it is significant for Messianic believers, both Jew and Gentile.
  5. Explain to your family members and friends that no one knows the date of Yeshua’s birth. But there are clues! (Get familiar with those clues.) I have posted some wonderfully helpful resources in my Torah! Torah! Torah! Group on Facebook.
  6. Keep the Christmas tree, especially with lights. Lose the Santa, sleigh, snowflakes, snowmen, gingerbread men, nutcrackers and anything else that can’t possibly have a tie into the real story of Messiah’s birth.
  7. Keep the Nativity scenes, but recognize that the Magi didn’t visit Yeshua until he was about two years old.
  8. Keep the angels and shepherds. That happened. Don’t put too much emphasis on the angels. Angelology is a risk you want to avoid.
  9. Look for Christian and Messianic vendors that sell Christian/Messianic toys, videos, books, and games. Be careful of those “Christian” products that build up people as more important than or equally important to God. I’ve seen these and shuddered.
  10. Limit your purchases to two gifts for each immediate family member. By immediate, I mean “living in your home.” Grandkids are the exception. But if you and the grandkids aren’t celebrating together, send each one a single gift. Everyone else gets a card. (Note: If you have a college student living outside your home, you can send them money to cover a NEED in your card, or in person, should he or she comes home for the holidays. Also appropriate for Messianic Jews is a Messianic necklace and/or a Tallit.)
  11. For every gift given to a family member, a matching gift should be given to someone in need. Food, clothing, household necessities, God-focused toys, books, or videos – the same as you would give to your own children – are appropriate. Donating to Christian or Messianic organizations in your loved one’s name is good too.
  12. Traditionally you won’t find outdoor lighting on many, if any, of our Jewish brothers’ and sisters’ homes. However, as Hanukkah is also known as the Festival of Lights, I see no conflict, especially if you use all white, or blue and white lights. I recommend keeping your lights simple, though. Let someone else in the neighborhood win the Best Holiday Lights award.
  13. Feel free to celebrate Yeshua’s birth on any or all potential holiday times:
    1. Yom Kippur
    1. Shavuot
    1. Sukkot
    1. Christmas (OK, we know that’s not a real date for Yeshua’s birth, but there’s an advantage to sharing our belief with others as we corporately celebrate Christmas)
    1. Hanukkah (Again, not a real date for Messiah’s birth, but there’s such significance to Hanukkah that many Messianic Jews celebrate the birth of Messiah then)
    1. Peshat – a far better term than Easter; however, I find celebrating a birth and a death on the same day downright gruesome. (Not to be confused with the joy of Yeshua’s sacrifice being turned into rebirth for all believers. But that’s a post of its own.)
  14. When you celebrate Messiah’s birth, celebrate His BIRTH, NOT His DEATH! There’s a real MIRACLE that needs to be given respectful acknowledgement: God humbled Himself and came down to earth as a helpless human baby in a world that both needed Him and rejected Him. This is LOVE! We need to focus on that. This is the long awaited MESSIAH! We need to focus on THAT! This is the initiation of the fulfillment of God’s PROMISE! We need to focus on THAT!! Let this be the beginning of the story you share with others. Keep them interested throughout the rest of the year and throughout the months until Peshat. Two weeks before Peshat, start your story about Yeshua’s last days so that the significance of Messiah’s death and resurrection is appreciated.

    There is MIRACLE in Messiah’s BIRTH.
    There is MIRACLE in Messiah’s DEATH and RESURRECTION.
    And there are significant stories of MESSIAH’s LIFE and INSTRUCTION in between.

    Let God’s story be told in a way that the listener can understand:
    a. Birth
    b. Life
    c. Death and Resurrection

  15. There are also feast days that will help you with the rest of the year. Learn and follow those as well. Pretty much, we Christians don’t do that. These are lasting orders for our Jewish brothers and sisters, and as Christians, I personally think it’s a good idea to experience these feasts at least once.

I believe this is the way to keep “Christ in Christmas.” We keep Him in our lives and in our hearts each day, one day at a time, throughout each season, day, each moment. That’s what it means to have God with us: Immanuel.

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!

See Part 1 here.

What’s a Messianic Believer to do About Christmas? Part 1

A Little Background on What We Have Come to Know as Christmas:

Christmas was first formally devised by the Catholic Church long after Yeshua’s birth, death, and resurrection.1 Most scholars agree that the winter date of December 25th is erroneous for several reasons. Yet for centuries December 25th has been celebrated as the day of Messiah’s birth.  And now it is a standard throughout much of the world today. Frankly, I don’t know how non-Christians are able to escape the Christmas season.

OK, so we knowingly celebrate the unknown birth date of Yeshua HaMashiach near the pagan time of Saturnalia in an attempt to turn our attention away from pagan rituals and turn our faces toward God. I can kind of work with that. And I can kind of appreciate the Puritan’s attempt at making Christmas a time to either solely focus on religious purity or ban it all together.2 But I, along with thousands of others, feel the Puritans went too far. For what better time to appropriately celebrate than the receiving of God’s greatest gift to us! More on that in Part 2.

In 1823, Christmas devolved back to a pagan celebration through the seemingly innocent publishing of a poem by Clement Clarke Moore, an Episcopal priest. You know this poem3:

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house

not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,

in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.

In the first stanza, Moore’s poem refers to St. Nicholas, on whom today’s Christmas celebrants base their belief in Santa Claus. Given Moore’s religious background, I dare say he would shudder in horror at what we’ve done with his poem.

St. Nicholas was a real person.4 He was a Bishop of Myra who, after the death of his wealthy parents, took literally the words of Yeshua in Matthew 19:21 and Luke 18:22 that state, “…go and sell all your possessions [everything you have] and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. …”

Had we followed the example of St. Nicholas instead of the frenzied spending and debt-building secular ritualism we currently follow around Christmastime, I daresay even the Puritans would have been satisfied. Sadly, however, the intended goal of refocusing our lives on celebrating the Gift of Messiah has turned back into a pagan ritual after all.

Works Cited

[1] http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03724b.htm accessed 12-21-2019

[2] https://www.history.com/topics/21st-century/the-war-on-christmas accessed 12-21-2019

[3] http://pages.csdgs.net/~u119713267/christmas/twas-the-night-before-xmas.pdf accessed 12-21-2019 — NOTE: This link provides the full poem, as well as some interesting background about Clement Moore. This background seems incongruous to his intent with respect to what Christmas has turned into as we know it today.

[4] https://web.archive.org/web/20101010104847/http://www.stnicholascenter.org/Brix?pageID=38 accessed 12/19/2019


[1]

[3]

[4]

Then vs. Than: Simplified

This mix-up in word usage is one of those that drive me bonkers. But when I read the rules of usage, I kind of understand why people get them confused.

  1. Spellcheck won’t catch them. That’s because (drum-roll, please) they are both spelled correctly!
  2. There’s only one letter difference. So what’s the difference? Turns out, quite a lot. Read on.
  3. They rather sound alike. They even sound just alike if you say them when you’re sleepy or otherwise not clearly enunciating. But again, not the same word.
  4. The rule of usage itself can be mind-numbing. All that piffle about subordinate clauses preceding their attached clause…oy!

So here’s a down and not-so-dirty way to explain the difference:

Then: Use this when you mean “next,” “later”/”afterwards,” or “therefore.”

  • Mother told her daughter she would first have to eat her dinner, then she could have dessert. (next, afterwards)
  • He bought the double-breasted jacket, then wished he had opted for the single-breasted one. (later/afterwards)
  • The kitten fiercely played with the jingle ball for five minutes, then she promptly curled up for a long nap. (immediately afterwards)

Notice that a comma almost always follows “then.” Although some style books reject many traditional comma usages, I like to use them for read-aloud clarity. When writing for someone with a preferred style, then, be sure to follow that specific style. 🙂 (therefore)

Than: Use this when you are comparing things.

  • The little girl liked dessert better than Brussels sprouts. (dessert to Brussels sprouts)
  • My grandmother’s pumpkin pie recipe was better than anyone else’s at the State Fair of Texas. (…grandmother’s…recipe to anyone else’s recipe* — *unstated but understood)
  • There’s nothing worse than a cold! (nothing worse to a cold)

Than” can also be used to call attention to an exception.

  • Other than opera, he liked all kinds of music. (exception: opera)
  • I’d like to introduce you to none other than the Nobel Prize winner himself! (exception: the Nobel Prize winner)

Notice that a comma almost never follows “than.” The exception above is when “than” is included in a phrase that would normally be set off by a comma. (I’m not going to bog you down with the names and types of these phrases in this post.)

I hope this clears things up. If you have any questions pertaining to the usage of these two words, please comment below! In the meantime, happy writing!

Eitz Chaim

This is a Messianic Jewish Synagogue that I have been privileged to attend, either in person or online, in worshiping Adonai through the powerful blessing and grace of Yeshua HaMashiach.

This shul is lead by Rabbi David Schiller, one of the best educators of Messianic doctrine and how it deeply and lovingly applies to our lives. He’s also an attorney.

Interestingly, this shul is a destination synagogue rather than a local community place of worship. There are attendees from as far away as Israel itself!

They offer worship and information via the following:

What I’m Working On Now

A natural weaver (not exactly a multi-tasker, but a several-things-at-the-same- time-doer), I’m working on three things right now:

Leader’s Guide for The Magic Flower. This will be a free PDF that you can download. It will remain on the site until my inventory is depleted (see Home announcement). This guide will be helpful for Sunday School teachers and parents in using The Magic Flower for all kinds of integrated subjects. Some of the things will include:

  • Reading comprehension
  • Multi-cultural Christmas celebrations
  • Sharing and caring
  • Vocabulary
  • Art
  • Natural science
  • Mythology
  • Personal expression
  • Family love

Do I have to mention that the Leader’s Guide really does need the books to go with it? Of course I don’t.

The Magic Flower Skit. This is a cute skit based on The Magic Flower that can be performed for the entire church. It’s flexible enough to be done simply on a low budget or extravagantly on a high budget. Personally, I like the low-budget option better. But I come from a mega-church background, so I understand how this could practically turn into a movie version of the book! Whichever way you choose to produce it, the skit is free for the download. You’ll need copies of the book to go with your production, but since I’m giving them away (yet, having to charge for S&H), this is definitely a delightful skit your whole church is bound to enjoy for little expense.

I’ll announce when these projects are completed.

Novels. A trilogy, actually. For adults and maybe young adults. I’m still ironing out the main title for the three of them, but the sub-heads will be Faith, Hope, Love. Each novel’s genre is supernatural Messianic, but each book will have it’s own theme setting: Historical fiction, Healing/Detective fiction, and Romantic fiction. There is a LOT of research required for each scene of each of these books, and this is a very early work in progress. So don’t start looking for them yet. I’ll keep you updated as each book nears completion. If I were to make a guess about the release of the first one, I’d say 2021. Maybe. I hope. Prayers appreciated!

As the saying goes, all in good time!

What are some of you doing?

The Magic Flower by Kat Christian

UPDATE: The Free Book special for 2019 is now closed. However, if you are still interested in obtaining a signed copy, please send me an email here, and I’ll send you one within a week of a completed order.

As mentioned in my “When Christmas Changed for Me” post, I am no longer writing books with a distinctively, traditionally “Christian” theme. That doesn’t mean I’m not a believer in Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus the Messiah)! I invite you to visit that particular post for clarification and details.

In the meantime, I do have several copies of The Magic Flower available to give away. See announcement on the Home page for give-away details. This offer is available only while supplies last. And in case you aren’t already familiar with The Magic Flower by Kat Christian, here’s some information I think you’ll find useful:

A flower! For Christmas?
What kind of weird gift is this?
Adrian started to get annoyed.

The Magic Flower is a charming and fun story of Adrian and his little sister Julia, who received a mysterious “magic flower” from their step-grandmother for Christmas. With two green tongue-looking things sticking out of a couple of ugly bulbs, it surely didn’t look magical! But only four days after its arrival, amazing things began to happen as the magic of the true meaning of Christmas started to bloom.

Where to Buy

Yes, these are still available via the following online bookstores:

Paperback Only
Xulon Press

Paperback Option
Barnes & Noble

Amazon
Most reviews available on Amazon

Here’s an interesting observation: Depending on how many books you might want to receive, and if you have a qualifying free shipping option on any of these sites, it might be less expensive for you to order from the site! But I do have quite the inventory that can be obtained by you helping me out with the shipping and handling. And if you’re local to the North Dallas, Texas area, you can pick up however many copies you’d like–within quantities available–for FREE! Contact me here if interested. And I will sign at least one copy for you (see Shipping & Handling Estimates below)! That’s something that’s always nice to have, but it’s only available from my own inventory. Oh! And I’ll include bookmarks for you as well. Also only available from me.

Extras

When available, I will post a couple PDFs that you might find very useful:

Leader’s Guide: This will help your child learn a variety of lessons from this book. Useful for both Sunday School teachers and parents. At least two copies of the book are needed to go with this Guide. (This will replace the promised Leader’s Guide referenced in the online purchased books.)

Church Skit: You’ll need copies of the book for this (one per voice/actor and a couple others for the stage crew), but it’s a great little skit that can be presented to the entire congregation!

Both of these extras are free for owners of The Magic Flower.

Shipping & Handling Estimates

These estimates are for shipping within the U.S. only. Rates to other countries will need to be arranged via email.

Per book

$5.00

E-mail for larger quantity S&H estimates.

$5.00 per book doesn’t exactly sound free.

No, it doesn’t. But here’s what your $5.00 covers:

Cost of personal inventory: I paid between $2.50-$3 per copy myself.

Cost of shipping materials: In my case, padded envelopes — the brown kraft kind that won’t stick to the cover of the book. I bought mine a few years ago, but to give you an idea of the cost at today’s rates, each envelope costs around 52 cents.

Addressing the envelopes: Here we’re dealing mostly in time and energy on my part. I get your email with initial contact information, along with your request. I will follow up with you by email to obtain your mailing information. (FYI, I’m not able to do the drop-shipping thing. Sorry!) Then I’ll write your name and information on the envelope in preparation for mailing. (Cost of internet connection for this process is fairly impossible for me to calculate; let’s just say it’s negligible.)

Depositing your payment: Although I prefer money orders (they make life a LOT easier! And when receiving those, I can send your books a lot faster!), I still need to make a run (or for me, walk, as I have no vehicle and am past my “running” days) to the bank to deposit your check.

Take your books to the post office and pay the postage: This trip costs me $1.50, as the post office is a tad too far for me to walk these days. And if you’ll notice on usps.com, $5.00 doesn’t even cover first class postage for 9.6 oz. (two books), which is really necessary for the signed copies.

In other words, it costs me about $4.50 in addition to the cost of postage for each book! At first class rate, S&H totals $9.69 out of my pocket! Even at media mail rates, I’m personally out $7.25 per book. So, yeah. $5.00 per book is fair to ask for help, wouldn’t you agree?

But let’s make this a little nicer for you. Order two unsigned books, and I’m only asking $5.00. What can I say? I’m currently motivated to reduce inventory! Merry Christmas!

Get Your FREE Christmas Books Now!

If you’re in the market for Christmas gifts, this is certainly an affordable one! But there’s not much time left before Christmas, so order now to get them in time to wrap and put them under the tree. Click below to get started:

Contact Kat

Three ways to proof your work

You know what you meant to say, but did your fingers know that? In other words, exactly what did you type, and are you actually communicating the message you had intended? Below are three simple ways to proof your work before you email or publish it!

Read What You Typed

This first option sounds so simple! But you’d be amazed at how many people think they don’t have time to read what they typed before they send it! When in a hurry, at least read it immediately before you send it. And when I say “read,” I mean word-for-word! Character-for-character if you can muster it.

Messages on the Fly
If the message is something required on the fly, this actually saves time! Don’t assume (review what this word means) that your audience can read minds. Can you? And even if you can, can they?

Who’s Reading This?
If you’re writing to a specific audience, write for that audience. How should you phrase something that reaches your audience? Which words are more appropriate? How does the person you’re writing think? Obviously, these are things you’ll need to consider when you have a little time to compose your article, document, story, etc. But here we’re focusing on you proofing your work so you are appropriately communicating with your intended audience. To do that, you have to read what you typed.

Read it Aloud
On last reading tip: Read it aloud. Break longer work into segments and read each segment aloud. I promise you, there will be gaffs you swear typed themselves into your word processor when you do!

Cold is Gold

When something you write is important, give it the time needed to make it perfect before anyone else sees it. I’m a huge fan of letting something go cold before I give it a final proofreading.

Years ago when my parents passed away, I had to go through a lot of their paperwork. Designated the “family writer,” much of that paperwork had been things of mine they thought worth saving. At first, some of that paperwork was so cold I didn’t even recognize it as my own. I remember even saying out loud with disgust, “Who wrote this drivel!” As I continued reading, I started remembering the document contents. “Oh! I wrote this drivel! Oy!”

The point here is that sometimes (make that oftentimes) you’re writing so quickly you don’t recognize some rather huge gaffs in the heat of the moment. But let that page/chapter/document grow as cold as you can allow, and man, will those gaffs shine through! So when you are writing something that needs to be perfect, schedule in enough time to put it on ice for a while. Then, when it’s nice and chilly, take it out again and proof it. Wow!

Let Your Fingers Be Your Guide

When I was in first grade, my teacher made us take our fingers off the page while we were reading. I suppose there were all kinds of philosophical reasons behind this, but here I’m suggesting you ignore their advice while proofreading your work. Put those fingers on that paper. Oh, yes. That means you need to print it out.

Experiment with this for yourself: Read something you’ve written on the computer, then print it out and read it. Turns out we see things differently on screen and in print.

Let your fingers glide past each word slowly. Then read the entire sentence. If you have a red pen, mark your necessary corrections. Yes, I realize you can do this inside of your writing program. But even publishing houses require their proofreaders to read semi-finalized typeset, printed pages! At least the one I worked for did. And we’d always catch something the copy editor missed. Always.

In the End, Get It Done

Everyone had deadlines. So after all your best efforts, just get it done. And after all your best efforts, don’t beat yourself up if someone else finds a type-o. Heck, my first book was published with two of the same errors on the same page! That was after three passes with hired editors, and my own proofreading! (The copies you’d now buy on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Xulon have been corrected. The copies I’m giving away still have the boo-boos.) A former high school classmate who had gotten an early copy pointed it out to me. I was relieved to discover it wasn’t a horribly embarrassing error, but this was written for children to read! Nevertheless, the book published, and I have never heard another word about the goofs. Sometimes, in spite of all our best efforts, goofs happen. I recommend you a good laugh at the faux pas and move on.

You’ll Have to Order the Books to Find Out

Nope. I’m not going to tell you what the goof is. Or which page it’s on. I’ll let you figure that out after you receive your free books from me! (See Home page for details.)

When Christmas Changed for Me

NOTE: This blog was originally written and posted in August, 2019. Because significant clarifications have occurred since then, this article has been modified to reflect same.

In 2013 I honestly believed every word I wrote in The Magic Flower. Since then I have learned the value of the Messianic point-of-view, which is very much a biblical view of God’s word! Far more so, I’ve found, than the Christian teachings I grew up with.

Called Out of the Church

I was in the midst of serving in one of the largest Baptist churches in the world as an online prayer host in an international ministry when I felt Ruach HaKodesh (the Holy Spirit) call me out of the church—at least for the time being—and into two local Messianic congregations: the first very Jewish in its culture, the other more a blend of both Jew and Gentile, yet also more clear as to the individual roles Jews and Gentiles play in the Fellowship of God.

Same Message of Salvation

Please understand! The Good News of salvation is the same! But you might be surprised to learn that this Good News was always directed toward God’s Chosen People, the Jews. It was only when the Jewish leadership rejected Messiah’s message of salvation that we Gentiles were grafted into this gift! But the message of salvation to be in relationship with God through the life, death, and resurrection of His Son, Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus the Messiah) is the same.

Richness of Relationship

There are four unconditional covenants of God: The Abrahamic Covenant, the Land Covenant, the Davidic Covenant, and the New Covenant. (Each of these will be addressed in more detail in future posts.) You might have noticed I did not include the Mosaic Covenant. Interestingly, the Mosaic Covenant is not an unconditional covenant! It has much value in its teachings, yes! But this was the covenant that God’s People broke, rendering it unusable as a saving covenant. Many of our Jewish brothers and sisters will struggle with this truth. Those whose hearts are open to being spiritually circumcised have received a vast storehouse of richness in blessings of their long awaited Messiah! And it is through the wisdom of God’s Chosen People that much of the New Covenant (New Testament) can be fully understood and appreciated!

What the New Covenant offers is an unconditional offer of salvation to a personal, loving relationship with our Creator! There is absolutely no way for any of us to earn our way to salvation.

God’s People Were NOT Replaced By the Christian Church!

Most Gentiles (Christians) will tell you that some of what I have just written above has never been taught, and that has been my experience as well. By not fully embracing the value of our Jewish brothers and sisters in Christ (Messiah), we are doing two things: 1. Missing out on that wisdom of connection between the Old Covenant and the New (remember, it was ALL written to the Jews!), and 2. Practicing arrogance toward those Jews who chose not to have their hearts spiritually circumcised, which resulted being “cut-off branches.” Please read your Bibles closely here! We Gentiles were grafted into The Root (Yeshua) for salvation, NOT AS A REPLACEMENT BRANCH, but as an extension of God’s grace to include us AS WELL!

Romans 11 TLV makes it very clear that we are not to be arrogant in thinking the Jews had their chance, blew it, so now salvation is ours. There is no room for nanny-nanny-boo-boos here! Because I’ll give you another hint: God’s plan is to graft His original branches back in again!

The Magic Flower by Kat Christian

The Magic Flower was written a few years before I was called out of the church and into the Messianic fellowship. The message of salvation is pretty much the same in my story, but at the time I believed Christmas was the time of Jesus’ birth, Jesus was our Savior’s name, and Sunday was God’s chosen day for church worship. Sound familiar to you? Well, in short, there’s much evidence that our Savior’s birth was more likely in September-October, His name, or at least a usable derivative of it, was Yeshua, and the Sabbath has ALWAYS been Saturday, a day to be dedicated to God. Oh, and the word “church” is a Greek concept. Substitute the word “congregation” or “community” from the Hebrew kehilah and imagine how much improved our world would be! There’s so much to blog about here!

Bottom Line

The message of salvation in The Magic Flower is still valid. There isn’t even anything truly wrong in it at all. But I am now focusing on a genre that I believe is more closely in line with God’s original intentions toward His Chosen People. So I’m giving away my inventory of The Magic Flower. I have an inventory of books that need good homes. The books can still be enjoyed with purpose by all English-speaking/reading families. So I’m giving them away. By simply helping me out with the cost of shipping and handling, you can receive as many copies as you’d like. I hope this is a blessing to you.

If you’re interested in receiving a free copy of The Magic Flower, please send me an email. I have been giving these books to both individuals and churches. So please know that when my inventory is gone, you might still find The Magic Flower by Kat Christian on XulonPress.com/bookstore, Amazon.com, or BarnesAndNoble.com, but those won’t be free.

Love to all,

Kat

This is the first post on my new blog. I’m just getting this new blog going, so stay tuned for more. Subscribe below to get notified when I post new updates.