A Messianic Jewish Response to Christians Who Naysay Christmas

Really good article by Sandra Templinsky via FIRM web site http://firm.org.il/learn/a-messianic-jewish-response-to-christians-who-naysay-christmas/

For me, as well as spend time with family, I’ve used this Christmas to go out and fellowship with a non believing Jewish friend who is seeking answers about his spiritual life, see a non believing friend who works in computing (like me) who might visit a church for the first time, and encouraged fallen away Christian friends who are back in church on fire for Jesus again.

No other time of the year reinforces the message of our Messiah so strongly.   In a world where secularism is trying to mute the message of the gospel, this season still has value to remind the non believing world of the Saviour of the World!!!

I’m troubled by the number of people who decide go against this holiday, and I am not talking about Jewish people, more Christians who are confused which set of holidays are relevant for today.

Friends, you don’t have to celebrate Christmas but look at the HUGE value that this season has, aside from all its commericalised trimmings, from its core value as a wild guess at Jesus’s birthday, to celebrate the life of the Messiah!!   I have no desire to compromise any of God’s word, but don’t be a religious hipster who looks down at everyone else during this season, just look at how many people may be on their own at this time, and pop around and see them!

Titus 3 : 9 But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless.

Romans 14 : 5 One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. 6Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. 8If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. 9For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.

Christmas is an opportunity for the gospel


People grumble that Jesus wasn’t born on 25th December – they are probably right.

The same people tell me that ‘someone on the internet’ told them that various Pagan gods were born on the 25th.   I think thats equally impossible to prove.

Despite all its added on layer of artificial commercialness, I still like Christmas.

Where other time have I have I heard my religious Muslim work colleague singing “away in a manger” in the school I was working in and my Hindu next door neighbours also have their 12 year old daughter playing Christmas songs on the piano.    I also hear the Salvation Army singing songs at Charing Cross railway station.

Please tell people to stop whining and look out for our neighbours who maybe on their own this season and visit them and see how they are, and maybe look for opportunities to share your faith in Jesus.

This week  my church encouraged us to bring someone new along to a carols event would be a perfect non-threatening opportunity.  There’s many at my church I greatly look up to who do a secular job in London’s city centre in finance, insurance, construction and legal companies who invite people they work with.  One friend of mine brought four people from his department, this is hugely admirable.

But equally as well as bringing new people to Christ, we should look to bring back Christians who have drifted away.    I got the opportunity to get someone along who walked away from church a year ago.

Today I was reminded by this scripture.

Jude 1 : 20 But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.
22 Be merciful to those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.
24 To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— 25 to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.

Paul doesn’t believe in Once saved always saved.   So neither do I.   I have felt a burden to disciple and bring back those who have stopped going to church or got into other religious systems and strange teaching.  (easy to do in London)   I didn’t go out of my way to do this, seems sometime the Lord brings people to me and I try and point them back to Jesus.

I like the fact there is one holiday that is impossible to ignore about the Messiah of Israel a week before we start a whole new year.

Sneak preview of Christian television in Bethlehem

Well, last year I was ready to fly home and see family for Christmas.   I am trying to pack in getting lots of things done before going, in particular, getting someone to check my mailbox and pay any bills, buy presents, host a party at my house with some of my other single friends for shabbat.

In addition to that, I wanted to meet up with my friend Peter Friedlander who is a photographer and video producer, he was at my church which runs a training school for students looking to enhance the work of the Christian ministry they work for by producing video content.    Once qualified, Peter has used his skills to do video work for a Arab ministry to witness to people in Bethlehem, Jesus’s birth town which today is a bustling Arabic city which is controlled by the Palestinian Authority.

As tourism is probably the life blood of the economy of Bethlehem, of course you will see more Christmas decorations out in the street than anywhere else in this part of the world, however just like commercialised western Christmas there maybe little in common with celebrating the birth of the Jewish Messiah, regardless of what time of the year he may of arrived, and more like a giant Woolworths in the middle east. 🙂


Bad taste bible stories

Sometimes I see people use stories from the bible out of context in the worst way possible.   In the case of these two pictures its from both people groups here in Israel.

The last supper with Hollywood stars?  Me and another Christian friend challenged the Jewish owner of a youth hostel on this, wondering if its really wise considering how many Christians visiting his business might feel offended about this but he just seem to think it was funny.

Yes, its the nativity scene with a seperation barrier.  This commonly used by Palestinians to manipluate the west that this hated barrier uses to keep terrorism from getting into Jerusalem.    The concrete pilars that make up this structure are ugly, but no sensible person wants to go back in the days during the intafada where there were bombings on buses and coffee shops every week.

Hebrew children’s book has Coca Cola trucks removed for traffic violations

I was at music concert just before I left Israel to fly home, there was a book shop with something quite funny:

Normally on TV commercials and posters, the Coca Cola trucks are driving along snow covered highways delivering obesity, diabetes and dental problems, oops I mean Christmas cheer to western nations.

Now if I am not mistaken, this Hebrew children’s book appears to show the Coke truck being towed away!!!

Could any kind person please translate what this book’s cover says?

Reminds me of a trip to Tel Aviv last year where strictly enforced parking rules meant trucks were scooping up illegally parked vehicles from the beach side streets although with some forklift type lifting prongs and taking them to an impound.

Its worth noting, Coke’s biggest market is the middle east, as observant Muslims don’t drink alcohol.

tips for avoiding Scrooge characters at Christmas

I like Christmas, just the essential bits, like seeing family, remembering Christ’s birth, getting together having food / games / presents etc.  I don’t like moaners and complainers, this is why this item is called:-

Most annoying things people ask at Christmas:-

Ways to get Scrooge like smug know it alls shut up over December….

“Ah, I read the other day Jesus was born on April / July / etc, so Christmas should not be celebrated at the end of the year.”

Great, gee, would you like to start a campaign to change Christmas then?

“I don’t like Christmas it should be stopped, its too commercialised.”

No one is forcing you to spend vast amounts of money.   Tell friends and family, you are going to limit presents to x per person.   Its just a celebration to stop working for a few days and spend time with family, no one is forcing you to get into debt, more than you celebrate another occasion, ie: spend too much money on holiday in August.   Only put up the number decorations to your individual threshold of taste.

I have seen some of the Jewish holidays like Purim turned into a psuedo-Halloween dressing up fest by some people, all holidays can be twisted into something awful.    I am sure St Patrick didn’t intend to make a significant portion of the nation of Ireland wake up a simulataneous hangover halfway through March.

Alternatively, ask your boss if you can work on 25-26/12, then leave the rest of the non-moaners/complainers to celebrate the season.

“I read the newspaper and the council are going to stop Christmas decorations / hymns being played / pictures of baby Jesus in the city centre….”

Stop reading the Daily bloody Mail then!

Of course on my next article I will show whats happening in Jerusalem for Hannukah…

Bethlehem – journey to birthplace of Christ part I – The Grotto

Parts 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5

Today (27th December)   I went to Bethlehem, I was planning on going Christmas day, but as I had no else to go with (travelling to the Palestinian territories on your own is not advised)  and that it would be hugely crowded I went with a family who are parents of one of the other volunteers here.   This family was partly here with a tour of some Filipino Christians who were here for a couple of weeks.   I got to Hillel Street at 8.30am and we all packed onto a coach.

The trip out of Jerusalem into Bethlehem is pretty short, getting through borders to the Palestinian territories is nothing that complex either.   Once through the gate in the concrete walls, this hotly contested area of the middle east isn’t at all that different from a regular part of Israel.   I can see olive, orange and lemon trees with fruit on, houses in the familiar style stone, none of the land is particular flat, you are forever going up and down and around curves, there are children playing, of course this is an Arab district and I see mosques and minarets more or less the same as Jerusalem.

Bits of Bethlehem do look quite untidy just like outer parts of Jerusalem, half finished houses (or should that be houses with extensions unfinished?)  broken cars rusting away, rubbish strewn around rocks, but at least where I could see, it doesn’t seem to be all full of poverty, there are large modern houses with swimming pools as well, and just like Jewish culture, the Arabs have plenty of small businesses of all kinds.   The cars look noticeably older (despite most cars in Jerusalem are old and knackered looking) mostly 1980s Peugeots, Renaults and Toyotas, and they have green licence plates and sign posts are in Arabic with no Hebrew to be seen.
The first stop on the coach was at this place called the The Shepherd’s place, which had a park which had an entrance with the words “Gloria in Excelcius Deo” (sounds like some words from a hymn?)  Here is a very pretty chapel and some really beautiful views of the Judean hills.

Here is the inside of this chapel, the pictures here tell some of the story in the Christmas carols…

Spent a good while here, this picture below shows me with the hills in the background, this location is where the Shepherds watched their flocks that came to visit Jesus.

aha, now I know where Santa got the idea of calling his workplace a ‘grotto’ 🙂

Parts 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5