Santa or Jesus? A Christmas reflection
By Karl FaaseSpecial to ASSIST News Service
While browsing my digital garbage can, I found this story stuffed in the January 2010 file and for some reason, I did not run it. I think itís about time
SYDNEY (ANS) -- Christmas is a wonderful time of the year, full of celebration and expectation. The pressure that it must be a special day for everyone brings some fairly unique pressures to all concerned. In an article on her 'MamaMia' web site and published in a number of Australian national daily newspapers, Australian commentator Mia Freedman lists her Five Pressures of Christmas. One of them is 'Keeping Santa Alive'.
"I have one friend whose Santa-Is-Real-Oh-Yes-He-Is! pantomime grows more elaborate every year as her children become more suspicious and she more desperate to keep the magic alive." (www.mamamia.com.au)
There is however another figure under pressure to keep his place in the Christmas celebration - Jesus. For many the story of the birth of Jesus at the first Christmas is just a quaint idea. For others, this Christian part of the Christmas celebration has long since had its day and ought to be left out of any Christmas celebrations.
Just where was Jesus Crucified, burried and resurrected?
As I write this on Easter Sunday afternoon, I thought that it would be appropriate to conclude the series of stories about my tour of Israel with a visit to the two places considered most likely to have been the place of crucifixion and Christ's tomb and resurrection.
Temple Mount and The Holy of Holies
When we first entered Temple Mount, my heart almost stopped. While I had seen The Dome of The Rock from a distance, to see it up-close and know that it rests where The Holy of Holies once stood made me almost sick to my stomach. Our guide told us that only Muslims may enter, but I have heard that some Christians have been allowed inside.
The Western Wall: the remains of King Solomon's Temple
I never imagined that I would see the Western Wall; much less pray at the wall and leave my little prayer in the cracks between the stones. Words can not express my emotions as I actually did just this during my visit to Israel.
Gethsemane; The place of prayer and betrayal
Visiting Gethsemane leaves you totally speechless when you realize that you are walking among the olive trees that may have been silent witness to Christ's betrayal. The site is beautifully preserved with gravel trails where you can almost feel the presence of our Lord and Savior.
Masada: Give me liberty or give me death
In my tour of Israel, nothing took my breath away like my first view of Masada. Three questions popped into my head almost immediately: Why would someone build such a fortress in such a desolate and inaccessable location? How did they get the materials and supplies on top of the mountain? Why did the Romans build a ramp; rather than just waiting them out?
Qumran: Home of the Dead Sea Scrolls
One of the most important biblical archaeological discoveries of all time came in one of the most desolate and uninhabitable places on earth: Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Shortly after leaving Beit She'an (Scythopolis), traveling south, we entered what is known as The West Bank. The geography changed almost immediately as we entered some of the most desolate land on earth.
The Glory of Rome in the middle of Israel
Just 20 miles south of the Sea of Galilee, we walked the streets of Scythopolis; one of the most important of the ten Roman cities which made up the Decapolis. This city, however dates back to 4,000 B.C. when it was known as Beit She'an.
Let's visit Jesus' neighbors
In the previous issue of Faith and Family, we visited Capharnaum, Jesus' home on the Sea of Galilee. The next stops on my tour of Israel were two of the neighboring towns: Bethsaida and Kursi.
Walking where Jesus walked in his hometown
When Jesus moved to the Sea of Galilee, he settled in Capharnaum. In this story, we visit his hometown and the home of Peter where Jesus healed Peter's mother-in-law and performed other miracles. We also visit the Synagogue where Jesus worshiped and also performed other miracles.
Visit Israel and you will never be the same
I was fortunate enough to join 9 other U.S. Christian newspapers for a tour of Israel in June, 2007. The entire trip was sponsored by the State of Israel and they picked up the tab. This is the first story in a series, and it gives a broad overview of the trip.