Post-Christmas Musing: Christmas Future- Keeping each day well

The Christmas Holiday has come and gone. Gifts have been given. Traditions have been followed. Interactions with family have occurred. It is the time for taking down the decorations, using or returning gifts, and returning to normal routine. The focus becomes on what is needed from day to day until the Holiday season returns. It is important to recognize that there is far more available than moving from one Holiday to the next. There is far more than “keeping Christmas well.”

The famous character grew to “keep Christmas well” by being exposed to past, present, and future relationships. He turned from being self-focused to “keeping Christmas well” by being concerned with others, being generous and engaging the relational. The turning point came with awareness of own mortality and no impact on others. His looking at Christmas future showed limitations and changed focus.

In thinking about Christmas future it does seem to be all about where is your focus and impact. Are you focused on concerns of self or is there priority to growing in relationship with God and others? Christmas ultimately is about the celebration of God’s gift of a reconciled relationship. It is all about God being accessible. It is about God demonstrating his love and our reflecting it by sharing what we have received with others.

Each day is a day where ones focus is needs to be examined. Are we living in such a way to connect and impact others? Are we growing in relationships? Do we take in consideration all of past, present, and future in our day to day existence? Such examinations and more are worthwhile for the choices we make now impact what is ahead and lead to “keeping each day well.” For each of us need to daily keep the Christmas focus on God with us with the result of engaged loving of God and others. Doing such results in moving beyond “keeping Christmas well” and touches all.

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Groundhog Day Musings

Today is Groundhog’s day. It is a day of superstitious tradition that the extension of winter occurs for six more weeks if the groundhog sees his shadow. For those curious about the history and foundation of the practice, it is connected primarily to ancient Celtic pagan practices. In particular it stems from a festival called Imbolc and is part of the pagan concept of Wheel of the Year. There was a Catholic syncretistic festival known as Candlemas and focused on being the time when Mary presented at temple for purification and when Simeon made his pronouncement. The main themes of both the pagan and Catholic tradition are of purification, initiation, and fire. It is seen as a time of light returning and overcoming darkness. This brief history examination is to really show the shaky foundation of Groundhogs day. As with most superstitious rights, the actual accuracy is poor. The Groundhog Day results have only been accurate about 39 percent of the time. It is interesting to examine why this ritual and superstition is held and remains a part of culture. Groundhogs day is really about looking to an early end to the winter season.

The winter season is generally one of trial. It is a time when darkness is greater than light. It is a time hoping for an end and release to what is seen as suffering and trial. In life, we often look for signs or hope that suffering will come to an end. We hope the course of any trial in life is short, or runs a shorter course. It is a focus on hoping that what is not liked ends quickly. Like winter, trials have a set course, they run only for a season. Granted some seasons last a lifetime, but it is always but a moment. Ultimately, the pain and suffering can be blinding. Pain can be all-consuming and the focus becomes on just quick release. Yet, everything serves a purpose. We all suffer, just as we all face winter. It is just a matter of the differences in perspective. No matter how severe the pain or trial it can be endured and transcended. It is all about focus. It is all about connecting to the true light, Jesus. It is about seeing the pains and suffering in this world from a different perspective. Suffering is not the greatest evil in the world. Our focus on self is. Often how we deal with the trials in our life really illuminate how self-focused we are.

Here is a challenge, face each day as it comes. Each day look to Jesus first and take eyes off the ebbs and flows of the seasons of life and the ongoing turning of time. Life is far more than the empty turning of a wheel found in paganistic views, but rather each day has meaning, even the trials and pain. All true meaning is illuminated in Jesus, who is the light of the world. It is Jesus who redeems the darkness and brings true newness. Jesus is the end and beginning of the true circle of life. He is the one who bring true hope, true peace, and true joy that enables standing in the midst.

The Correct Pentecost/Shavout Date: Lessons on getting things right!

Actually contrary to my previous post the correct date of Pentecost was actually May 31st rather then May 29th as widely reported on both Jewish and Messianic information site.  The error of date was pointed out during forum discussion here: http://www.peacebringer.net/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=1661 and was given sound correction on the matter.  Craig, an author of several blogs with his primary blog being www.messianicmusings.com, actually provided sound detailed information:

The original Hebrew of the relevant passage (I’m not going to look it up at this hour, so this is a loose rewording) says, on the morrow after the Sabbath, hold a sacred assembly (Feast of First Fruits) and then count off seven sabbaths(49 days) and on the morrow after THAT Sabbath, hold a sacred assembly (on the 50th day, which is Shavuot/Pentecost).

As a result, counting from the Feasts of First Fruits, Saturday, May 30 (Gregorian) is Day 49 of the counting of the Omer, so Sunday, May 31 is Shavuot/Pentecost.

So why do so many people – including the rabbis – get it wrong? It has to do with the difficulties of translation, actually.

You see, many people base their impression of the relevant passage on a Greek translation of the Old Testament, known as the Septuagint. In the Septuagint, the rabbis translated “sabbaths” as “weeks.” And that began the confusion.

See, the whole question of when to start counting comes from this. You see, first fruits is to be held “the morrow after the Sabbath,” but it doesn’t say WHICH sabbath specifically at that exact point in the text. So the rabbis (and many in the Christian church) said “Gee, Passover is a Sabbath, too… so first fruits must start the day after that.”

But Passover falls on a different day of the Gregorian week each year. This year, Passover was on a Wednesday and therefore many held First Fruits on Thursday and started counting from that point… because the Greek Septuagint says “weeks” not “sabbaths.” That puts the 50th day on Friday, May 29.

But there’s a problem with all that, or many problems.

First and foremost is this: the Greek Septuagint is a TRANSLATION, not the source language. The source language is the Hebrew, so we need to pay attention to what the Hebrew says, not the Greek.

And the Hebrew word is SHABBATH (Sabbath) not SHAVU’OT (weeks). Count off seven regular Sabbaths is therefore the more accurate translation… meaning the rabbis who translated the Septuagint got it wrong.

Here’s another problem: You can’t count off seven sabbaths and have the morrow AFTER THE SABBATH be the 50thday, unless you get lucky and passover falls on a sabbath (seventh day) that year.

So, the only correct way to read the passage… linguistically, even… not theologically… is that you hold first fruits on the morrow following the next regular sabbath and start counting off seven regular sabbathsfrom there, with the count beginning on the first day of the week (Sunday). Only in this way will the 50th day fall on the morrow after the seventh sabbath, which would be Shavuot/Pentecost.

Now, here’s where there’s a nice TREAT in the spring festivals for Messianics and Christians alike…

If First Fruits is practiced in the proper way… the morrow after the next regular sabbath, so you can count off 49 days and have the 50th day be another morrow after the sabbath and not just any old day… then here’s what happens:

First Fruits is actually symbolic of the resurrection… Yeshua rose on the the first day of the week! This, I think, is why the rabbis probably started counting the Omer differently… as a reaction to Christianity/first-century Yeshua-followers.

If you then count off the Omer, Shavuot/Pentecost ALSO falls on a first day of the week (Sunday).

Does this mean the Sabbathis changed to the first day of the week? No, but I won’t re-open THAT controversy here at length.

It should just be nice to know that when one starts the counting of the omerproperly by placing First Fruits on the morrow after a regular Sabbath, then the resurrection symbolism is restored to that feast of the L-RD because that’s when Yeshua rose from the dead… on a Feast of First Fruits… on the first day of the week (Sunday)!

By rendering the placement of First Fruits as immediately after Passover, as most rabbis do, and rendering the counting as “weeks” instead of “sabbaths,” the spring festivals are thus disconnected from their fulfillment in Yeshua… which would lead folks astray from a proper understanding.

Hope this helps.

The very fact that I had the date wrong on when Shavout really occuredis a real learning experience and gives some important lessons. The first lesson is again the importance of checking out the sources of information and continually be looking for the truth.  It was really easy to look, find the date, and accept it as accurate and act on that information, as I did.   In sense we can often go by what we are told and assume it is correct without verifying for self.  However, the seeking of truth means one needs to check, verify, and recheck the validity of a matter. 

The other lesson that strikes me as important is how easily we settle for what has been established. The fact that multiple sites including those from a “Messianic” perspective just failed to recognize when the counting of Omer is actually to start.  We can easily stick with the way things have always been reported and practiced without challenging ourselves.  This becomes a form of inertia and gives us an inability to be taught.

In actuality, one can find upon looking folks that will insist that the Pentecost calculation should be done differently and give even what seems solid evaluation of the differences.  When I think of this fact, whether we have the day correct or not really becomes irrelevant, what matters is what we do in faith before God and what he leads us to do.  For me Romans 14:4-9 really stress what any believer in Jesus in Messiah should hold to as a mindset: 

(ESV)4 Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. 5 One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7 For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. 8 For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. 9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.

So when it comes down to it, Biblically which day is considered as a day to honor before God is irrelevant, what is important is that we bring honor to God.  Yet, sometimes each of us can get so caught up in “getting things right” that we ultimately start bringing honor to our point of view rather then ultimately honoring God.  We can become so wrapped up in being right that we lose sight that it is all about bringing Honor to God, to Jesus, and to the Holy Spirit.