Since about 400 AD, Christians have celebrated the birth of Jesus. 'Christ' means 'Messiah' or 'Anointed One' - the title given to Jesus - and 'Mass' was a religious festival.
In the West today, the real meaning of Christmas is often forgotten. It has become a non-religious holiday! More children believe in Father Christmas than in Jesus. Christmas Day is a time for eating and drinking too much and watching television.
But the real Christmas story is found in the Christian Bible. It is told in two different books: Matthew and Luke chapters 1 and 2. If you have no Bible, you can read these chapters online. You may think that the story of the birth of Jesus, and the way that the West celebrates Christmas today, do not seem to have many connections
These chapters tell how Jesus was born as a baby to Mary. This was no ordinary birth! She was not married, she was a virgin, (yes, really!) and an angel had told her she would bear a special baby. Her husband-to-be, Joseph, did not believe her at first. Who would? Then an angel told him in a dream that it was true! Probably no one else believed it. So when they had to travel from their home in Nazareth to Bethlehem (near Jerusalem), to register their names with the ruling Roman government, they probably escaped many hard words from other people
Jesus a refugee Herod, the evil king of the area, heard about the child, saw Him as a threat, and sent soldiers to kill Jesus. But God told Joseph in a dream to take Mary and the baby and escape to Egypt. They lived there till King Herod died and then went back to live in Nazareth. We read nothing more about the life of Jesus, except for one story when he was 12, until He reached 30. By the way - note one important thing: Jesus was not a white European, and Christianity is not a Western religion. Christmas cards from different countries often show Mary, Joseph and Jesus in the landscape of that country, and with the racial appearance of that nationality, be it black African, Indian, or Japanese. This is good and right - Jesus came to identify with every racial group. He is "Everyman" for us all.
The Arrival of Jesus to Bethlehem
Arrival in Bethlehem brought worry and upset: there was no room for them to stay at the hotel. There was only space in the stable - the animal house for travellers' donkeys and horses.
Jesus was born that night, and as they had no bed for him, they used an animal feeding box filled with the dry grass the animals ate. Christmas cards and pictures today make it all seem very nice. In truth, it must have been dirty and frightening for a young couple, far from their home and families. Possibly the birth was premature after the stress of the journey. This was a very poor place for Jesus to start his life on earth.
Christians believe that it was exactly God's plan that things happened this way. They say that it shows that Jesus came as a humble, poor person and not as a strong, rich king. They also claim that the birth of Jesus was told many years before in the books of the prophets.
Five hundred years before, the prophet Micah had said,
"But you Bethlehem, though you are small, out of you will come for me, one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times."
The prophet Isaiah had written,
"A child is born to us! A son is given to us! And he will be our ruler.
Kid wants Zune for Christmas, I'm not so sure
One of my kids has his mind made up. Gotta have a Zune.
NONE of the music that will go on it is DRM protected. So aren't there much cheaper alternatives? What is it about the Zune that is so special to these kids other than the fact that it has a recognized name attached?
Is there an alternative that will overcone the "cool factor" and save me money while giving him a better product to play his music on?
Thanks for your suggestions.