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Amdetsion
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« on: December 07, 2007, 05:35:49 PM »

As Orthodox Christians it should concern us that we invest so much money and time in the "holiday traditions" that brings more benefit to the enemies of God than to the Holy Church.

I understand more this investment from protestants and Roman Catholics. But it fails me to understand why we Orthodox are so 'materialistically' focused during December.

We run from store to store shopping for gifts, trees, decorations etc to prepare for the big day.

The cost for these things are expensive. Imagine how many monastaries could be helped or starving mouths could be fed ALL year with all the xmas money wasted on trees, gifts etc.

This is the one time of year when Orthodox, Roman Catholic and protestants follow the same 'exact' traditions. NO conflicts at all here. You can not tell one form the other.

All of us take our kids to see and take pictures with that jolliest of elves  st nick. We teach our kids to love this man and his whole winter wonder world of flying reindeer, north pole, chimneys, lists, toys etc. All of our kids have "visions of suger plumbs dancing in their heads" by DEC24 (pronounced: DEKTWENTIFORE). I know of many muslims and jewish that keep the same traditions lately. They say that "the decorated tree (christmas tree) is really not "Christian" and niether is the st. nick from the north pole, chestnuts roasting, jack frost,rudolph, wreaths, fruit cakes, jingle bells and so on. They say it is all winter festival traditions adopted to serve as christian".

Interesting.....

I could not really wage much of a defense since I have no biblical knowledge or Orthodox Christian references to support any of these traditions as doctrinal "Christian or at lease accepted "Christian" traditions as defined by the Holy Church.

Not that lack of such info makes these traditons bad or un-acceptable; but it makes you think.

Some of us try to  s -q -u -e -e -z -e  some modicum of Advent into the fray.

I find the whole matter a little sad.

I would rather we put our money into Church ministries in lieu of gifts to each other and take the money for decorations and invest it in our various church building funds and the food money to go toward food pantries and outreach etc, etc.

My point is we give too much time and money to business which is for the profit of this dead world than toward the hope of the prophets which is the Advent of the Christ and His mission on earth at this time of year.

And we remove our children form the blessing of Advent with all the fables, stories, cartoons, toy, parades and so on.

It is a 'magical' time for the kids indeed. It seems to me that these traditions are hardly edifying God from a strictly Orthodox perspective. "Magical" (which is commonly used to describe the experiences of this time of year) to me is hardly acceptable Orthodox terminology. I have not come acorss this word "magical" within Orthodox doctrine and teaching.

As Orthodox Christians how can we make this a time "souly" spiritual and benefiting to our salvation and the salvation of the whole world?

Can we keep all the things we are currently doing at this time of year and make them truely enriching to the Church of God instead of mans pocket?

Can we remove the "wonder" and "magic" and restore the 'Holiness' and "praise" of God as the ultimate and real anticipation...... a real experience for us and our innocent children at this time of year?

Or shall we remain as is; maintaining traditions that even non-christians are embracing in this new age?




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« Reply #1 on: December 07, 2007, 06:31:07 PM »

You're preaching to the choir, my friend.  I, too, share your loathing at the overwhelming spiritual apathy of my fellow Orthodox Christians during this Holy Season or any holy season throughout the year.  I regret I have not a solution, only a finger with which to point the blame--faulty catechesis; desire to assimilate and not be perceived as "weird."  I think the first is the biggest problem; priests and, above all, parents are failing to catechize children as to what it means to be Orthodox during this time of year, that this is not a time to be flippant and care-free but a time to pray more, eat less and become more united with God.  This battle will always be waged through generations to come.

Kyrie eleison.
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« Reply #2 on: December 07, 2007, 06:44:37 PM »

I, too, have observed how Christmas is accompanied by spending more money than at any other season. When Advent begins, we bow to the gleaming Tower of Commerce and give to ourselves more than any other time of the year. But what better way to celebrate the Incarnation of Christ, the joining together of God and Man, than by loving ourselves? And we do. We see stories of violence breaking out at shopping malls and toy stores--violence! People hurting people--and for what? Plastic?

The giving of gifts is a wonderful thing, and can even be redemptive. But we must be careful of the motivation for the gift. St. Nicholas should be kept in mind during Advent, for he gave to Christ when he gave to the children. The Magi should be emulated, for they went to the ends of the earth to give to Christ. But there is a difference between true giving and giving that exalts self.

So what do we do? I'm not a doomsayer by any means, but it's this sort of thing that really gets me depressed.
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« Reply #3 on: December 07, 2007, 09:33:19 PM »

I am not part of the choir my brothers I was born in America and am an American. My mother was Catholic and my fathre Orthodox and while I abhor the unchecked consumerism of our culture at this time of year I would posit my brothers that it is always a struggle to be Orthodox not just during Advent or Holy Lent but all year round. We are a minority in this country and even if we were not the pull of the passions is strong. I agree, better catechesis and less apathy but this should be a year round concern not just during fasting periods.
 My two cents.
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« Reply #4 on: December 07, 2007, 09:55:12 PM »

So what do we do?
There are some great things we can do, even in secular situations.
One of the hospital mental health units where I work part time is holding a "Secret Santa". Each staff member's name is placed in a hat, and everyone has to draw one out and buy that person a gift up to the value of $10. It is then wrapped, and the gift tag says:
"TO: (The Staff member's name),
FROM: Santa."
And placed under the tree. The gift is therefore anonymous.
Also, you may find yourself having to buy a gift for someone you don't particularly like! I drew out the name of a nurse with whom I've had several disagreements with in staff meetings, and I found the exercise of having to choose a gift for them to be a good way of seeing the whole person rather than just the clinician whose professional practice I disagree with.
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« Reply #5 on: December 07, 2007, 10:16:04 PM »

Here are some links to web sites where you can buy unique gifts that benefit people in need either through providing a channel for local artisans or for merchants that commit to giving a portion of sales to charity:

http://www.joinred.com/products/
http://www.beadforlife.org/
http://www.novica.com

I would appreciate if anyone knows of similar merchants out there to reply with links!

Thanks
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« Reply #6 on: December 08, 2007, 06:05:09 PM »

I forgot one more:
http://www.greatergood.com/cgi-bin/WebObjects/GreaterGood

They have links to multiple stores that donate portion of sales to good causes.  Lots of good gifts too.
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« Reply #7 on: December 08, 2007, 07:54:53 PM »

Or you could simply buy less crap.
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« Reply #8 on: December 08, 2007, 10:18:49 PM »

funny

so are you so holy that you dont buy your friends and family gifts on Christmas?
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« Reply #9 on: December 08, 2007, 10:21:24 PM »

funny

so are you so holy that you dont buy your friends and family gifts on Christmas?

I think Nektarios' point was that instead of being overly extravagant with gifts for family and friends, we should be giving more to charity and worthy causes.  Do I really need to drop $5,000 on a flat-screen TV for my parents or can I find a less expensive gift and give the difference to charity?
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« Reply #10 on: December 09, 2007, 11:33:16 AM »

Hence "buy less crap" instead of no crap at all.   laugh  Good idea, though.  Fasting seasons do have more focus on almsgiving anyway.
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« Reply #11 on: December 09, 2007, 03:47:55 PM »

I was half expecting that using the word "crap" on the forum would cause controversy, or perhaps the woman on the webpage who isn't wearing the hijab and burqa would have shocked.  But anger at the suggestion that consumerism isn't actually the same thing as charity - that surprised even me. 
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« Reply #12 on: December 09, 2007, 05:35:19 PM »

Actually I'm not angry.  Obviously I was not suggesting buying things as a replacement for charity.  Nor did I suggest to buy $5000 TVs, nor did I complain about your crap.  Its your crap and your contreversy that you "expected" and then went ahead and followed through with.
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« Reply #13 on: December 10, 2007, 02:50:17 AM »

'Tis the season to be jolly.
Fa La La La La La La La La......
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« Reply #14 on: December 10, 2007, 03:22:32 AM »

I, too, have observed how Christmas is accompanied by spending more money than at any other season.
There is a way to buy Christmas presents and to save money. That would be to celebrate the Orthodox date for Christmas of January 6 or 7, instead of December 25. I knew some Orthodox Christians who would make all their Christmas purchases on December 26, which enabled them to save big on the after Christmas sales, but at the same time, they could enjoy their celebration of Orthodox Christmas on January 6.
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« Reply #15 on: December 10, 2007, 09:18:35 AM »

We've been doing our gift giving on St. Nicholas day as well.  Definitely cuts down on dealing with mall craziness.  I don't bother to go to the mall after Thanksgiving anyway.  Besides that, stores tend to mark up stuff this time of year so they can offer "big savings" at what would have been the normal price.
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« Reply #16 on: December 10, 2007, 10:00:30 AM »

  I regret I have not a solution, only a finger with which to point the blame--faulty catechesis; desire to assimilate and not be perceived as "weird."  I think the first is the biggest problem; priests and, above all, parents are failing to catechize children as to what it means to be Orthodox during this time of year, that this is not a time to be flippant and care-free but a time to pray more, eat less and become more united with God. 


If you don't like the way priests are handling it, why don't you become one and change it? 

Same statement goes for being a parent. 

This is the only real way you're going to make change happen.  Either that or go on some kind of crusade to better things.  But that would require work too. 

I think all told...the more we put the ball in our court the more we're going to get done. 

Please forgive me if I sound snide or ill-tempered.  I think the priests of this country and the world get blamed enough.  We don't need to pile it on.  It's good to see bad things and be open about them. But it is just bad stewardship and selfishness if we don't offer a valid solution and then make it happen. 

Sorry...not having a great day.  Please forgive if I was too strong. 
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« Reply #17 on: December 10, 2007, 11:02:23 AM »

Amen to you my Serb brother
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« Reply #18 on: December 10, 2007, 02:23:03 PM »

I do not permit shopping or the sort during fasting time in my household.

Also I do not decorate the house. I feel that the whole show is rather excessive and unneccesary.

I promote creative projects within the household such as new ways to help others, caring for people or things you do not like, how to save money and time and so on.

We sing together and read scriptures. We prepare meager fasting meals and dis-allow any sweets or "fun" foods even if it is fasting to remind the family to remember those in need.

I am offering here some of my choices that I have made to try and make Advent a Holy time. A time that sets me and my love ones apart from our worldly lives and focus instead on Christ purpose; why He needed to come to save the world. It has worked well. We give gifts to each other all year long and eat sweet things as well when we can all year as well. I figure we take a break sometimes. Be different.

Me and my wife each year put aside all our bonuses that we get from work and business as well. We have been able to respond to the needs of others all year long with this fund.

I do not expect many of us to make the choices I have made. It was and is still very hard and I will admit the "Christmas" trappings of trees and decorations, gifts and food and drink are very very nice and beautiful. I like these things. I opted to GIVE that all away.

But it feels good when I come home form all the pushing and greed on the streets and experience my home and all its inhabitants in peace; nuturing the ways of goodness and humility in lieu of binge eating and gift wrapping. The benefits last all year long.

I am starting to find a few other Orthodox who are doing the same thing.

It is nice to give. It has this kind of "hope" that is attached to it. But I think we all know that that is not really what is happening anymore. Kids are so entranced with the "gifts" They care not about Advent.

Somebody spoiled these traditions and took out the virtue and created this economic machine that is good enough to suit anybody and any religion. It is fun time.

I feel sorry for people who truely are drawn to these traditions for all the right reasons.

Thats my take.

Oh!

My secretary just moments ago (disturbing me) telling me this wonderful story that happened at her house between her and her 4 year old son as she was decorating the house and putting up her Christmas tree last weekend. It was a nice story. Her sons are very excited for Dec 25 to come. "They love Christmas" she said.

I said..."that's really nice".

The point here?

This women is a devoted Hindu.

America is good!

HO HO HO!!!
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« Reply #19 on: December 10, 2007, 04:53:46 PM »


My secretary just moments ago (disturbing me) telling me this wonderful story that happened at her house between her and her 4 year old son as she was decorating the house and putting up her Christmas tree last weekend. It was a nice story. Her sons are very excited for Dec 25 to come. "They love Christmas" she said.

I said..."that's really nice".

The point here?

This women is a devoted Hindu.

America is good!

HO HO HO!!!

Really?  That is very interesting.  If I understood you correctly you are saying that she is devoted to Hinduism and yet doing all the trappings of christmas? 

I would have maybe a unique outlook on this.  I see that some sense of christian ideals have entered into their house, unbeknownst to them!  They are giving each other presents at a time of the year that they would normally not in their Hindu calander.  But because of christianity and Christ's incarnation they are participating in a Christian feast! 

I see this as ironic and positive, a door that could be opened, rather than commercialism. 

It could be both (and probably is), but I prefer to see the good as opposed to the bad. 

That's how I see it.   Wink Grin
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« Reply #20 on: December 10, 2007, 05:59:02 PM »

^^^ Amen a second time.

Traditionally, decorations were put up on Christmas eve and the 12 days of Christmas (Nativity to Theophany) were a time of celebration and mirth.  Just because the holidays have gotten commercialized (by many a non Christian merchant) is not going to rob me of the joy of this season. In Orthodoxy there is fasting and feasting. We are to do both. I think that this is a quite balanced view. THose who are overly asetical in their fasting do not impress me. What are they trying to prove that they are more pious more holy? those who boast of their fasting and good works have received theire reward here on earth and not in the heavenly realms (Publican & Pharisee come to mind.) "I thank thee O' Lord that I am not like those who celebrate the Christmas season, I fast and give to the poor.."
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« Reply #21 on: December 10, 2007, 07:54:09 PM »

^^^ Amen a second time.
 THose who are overly asetical in their fasting do not impress me. What are they trying to prove that they are more pious more holy? those who boast of their fasting and good works have received theire reward here on earth and not in the heavenly realms (Publican & Pharisee come to mind.) "I thank thee O' Lord that I am not like those who celebrate the Christmas season, I fast and give to the poor.."

Please let us try not to descend into this kind of protective stance.

We are only talking among each other as 'orthodox' on this point.

You and I can benefit from orthodox people who are truely rich in fasting life and giving. These types of people are a blessing for our faith and the world. May God give them the  strenght to struggle with BEING Holy for Christ sake and to endure those who mock them.

There is no "in your face" from these types like the jews of old the way I see it; a sort of "we are holy and your not" as you seem to imply because of their lifestyle. I imagine there are people like that; but that can go both ways.......

It is not required that we ring jingle bells, and teach our kids lies about the north pole and erect trees in our homes and exchange gifts to embrace this season.

Actually these acts appear more akin to what you are saying:"I thank thee O' Lord that I am not like those who celebrate the Christmas season, I fast and give to the poor.." with the the change "I do not fast and I have all the good things of Christmas".

But all this is not the issue here most importantly. It is in my opinion that this only ripe for argument not progressive serious imput that can add value to our orthodox lives.

If one of us takes a very purest approach to the Advent season than that is good for us all. If one of us is very open an liberal applying all the normal "trappings" of the holiday. Than let that person use his/her approach to enrich each of us in the faith of orthodoxy by sharing how such activities are good and beneficial and uplifting to the orthodox christian way of life.

It is a two way street.

There is no intention to make each other feel bad or "less" "holy" or psuedo holy either.

If someone can add to this thread good cause for "orthodoxy" with all the money we spend and the stories we tell our children than thats what I am hoping for.

For example these santa clauses in the streets and stores are raking up; especially the costume guy. I have yet to find saint nick in the list of orthodox saints. Can somebody provide info on this.

I am sure if he is a saint recognised by the Holy Church he is not from the north pole or slides down chimney's. So why do we spend so much money on the 'fable' and teach this falicy to our children?

We can use fantasy with our kids of course but not in lieu of the truth.

Thus if their is a real Saint Nicholis in the Holy Church why don't we throw out teaching our kids about the guy in the north pole and teach them the truth?

The real St. Nicholis would not be rendered in a furry red suit which imitates the skins worn by the early Germanic pagan shaman. Or riding in a wacked out sled carried by flying reindeer. This all sounds like something that stumbled out of the mind of a crack addict or somebody tripped out on herroin. NOT orthodoxy at all.

I can give to the church money and gifts during Advent since this in my mind is the best way to follow the traditions of the Magi. The Magi did not exchange gifts with each other to my knowledge.

Somebody tweeked the story a little it seems.

I have a hard time giving to the guy in the red suit in Macy's or to Macy's.

I am not enlightened on how reindeer and elves and "rockin around the christmas tree" and the like figures into orthodox christianity.

I see these things as innocent traditions that (may) mean to do something good but is largely money oriented and for all the good they may intend (or do provide) thier is'nt much really beneficial that can be redeemed.

Maybe a long time ago these traditions were more fruitful and redeeming to our faith and the world by truely edifiying and glorifiying God in our Savior Jesus Christ. If it ever was that is long past gone now especially in the USA.

World markets are waiting to tally up the 'christmas cash'. That cash will make or brake many businesses and industries worldwide.

The baby Jesus means nothing to these wicked profiteers that scortch our childrens minds with all the 'stuff' that is all over the place.

For me I will keep my money and time in my pocket to use it in ways that benefit the bottom line of the Holy Church. The best I can.

I am a sinner for sure.

I am sharing this with all in hopes that we can help each other and not to criticize each other. Each of us has to make the best decisions for our readiness to be Gods people in he face of thbis lost world.

I am not trying to make out to be some holy person. I am not.

The Lord already knows that I am a fool; so I will not be surprised if I am viewed as one by my fellow orthodox.

Merry Christmas

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« Reply #22 on: December 11, 2007, 10:40:11 AM »

Dn. Amde,

I don't think aserb's issue is so much with the mere fact that you and your family undertake those endeavours during Advent as it is that you give the appearance of boasting when you turn around and then detail them all for us here.  While I sincerely doubt this is your intention, it does give the appearance that you are trying to draw attention to how pious you and your family are for not diving into the crass commercialism.  Aren't we commanded to pray out of sight of the world and to not advertise the fact we are fasting?  Why then proclaim to all here that is what you are doing?

As for Saint Nicholas, he was a bishop in the early Church and was present at the First Council of Nicaea, where he punched Arius for his heresy.  His association with gift-giving comes from the tale of him tossing bags of money through the window for a family who couldn't afford their daughters' dowries.  The portrayal of Santa Claus in popular culture is very closely linked to the Dutch portrayal and name (Sinterklaas, meaning Saint Nicholas), where he is typically dressed in red, Western-style bishop's garb.  I'm not sure exactly how the elves and reindeer fit in, but the origins of the tradition are certainly rooted in pious custom.  However, just because our holy traditions have been commercialized is no reason to decide we should have nothing to do with them.  Instead, it should be a guantlet thrown down, challenging us to reclaim them.  Should we really throw out our Saint Nicholas traditions just because someone in the past mixed reindeer and elves in with it?  Absolutely not!  Instead, use it as an opportunity to teach people about the origins of the tradition in Orthodox Christianity and turn it into a chance to witness our faith.  Yes, the commercialism is bad, but that doesn't mean we should turn our back on it all.
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« Reply #23 on: December 11, 2007, 11:06:04 AM »

Thank you Venamin. You are much more tactful man than I. Forgive me Amedistion if I have offended you.

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« Reply #24 on: December 11, 2007, 11:08:15 AM »

You are much more tactful man than I.

You've obviously never been in a car with me during rush hour, then. angel
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« Reply #25 on: December 11, 2007, 11:10:16 AM »

^^^^  Grin   police
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« Reply #26 on: December 11, 2007, 11:39:55 AM »

Dn. Amde,

I don't think aserb's issue is so much with the mere fact that you and your family undertake those endeavours during Advent as it is that you give the appearance of boasting when you turn around and then detail them all for us here.  While I sincerely doubt this is your intention, it does give the appearance that you are trying to draw attention to how pious you and your family are for not diving into the crass commercialism.  Aren't we commanded to pray out of sight of the world and to not advertise the fact we are fasting?  Why then proclaim to all here that is what you are doing?

As for Saint Nicholas, he was a bishop in the early Church and was present at the First Council of Nicaea, where he punched Arius for his heresy.  His association with gift-giving comes from the tale of him tossing bags of money through the window for a family who couldn't afford their daughters' dowries.  The portrayal of Santa Claus in popular culture is very closely linked to the Dutch portrayal and name (Sinterklaas, meaning Saint Nicholas), where he is typically dressed in red, Western-style bishop's garb.  I'm not sure exactly how the elves and reindeer fit in, but the origins of the tradition are certainly rooted in pious custom.  However, just because our holy traditions have been commercialized is no reason to decide we should have nothing to do with them.  Instead, it should be a guantlet thrown down, challenging us to reclaim them.  Should we really throw out our Saint Nicholas traditions just because someone in the past mixed reindeer and elves in with it?  Absolutely not!  Instead, use it as an opportunity to teach people about the origins of the tradition in Orthodox Christianity and turn it into a chance to witness our faith.  Yes, the commercialism is bad, but that doesn't mean we should turn our back on it all.

I think the whole Santa Claus thing is wrong. In Greece we venerate St. Basil Jan. 1st.  In resent years Greeks have started to exchange gifts on Christmas. It's very sad because Christianity use to take over Pagan holidays. Now pagan holidays are taking over Christian ones. Santa Claus is a imaginary figure dreamed up by Coca cola in the 1940s. People are venerating him as a saint of some sort. He is in fact a Pagan Idol. I say we pray for the return of the Byzantine Roman empire.
  The whole gift exchanging thing is horrible. I myself am guilty of it. The true meaning is to give gifts to the poor and homeless and needy. Just like St. Basil did.
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« Reply #27 on: December 11, 2007, 11:57:04 AM »

We set up a bank with a scene of the nativity on the family altar, every day  the grandchildren and the adults of the family  drop anything they wish in the bank.  On Christmas Eve we go to the bank Teller and they run the change through their counter and we get the change converted to dollar bills the grandchildren offer the bank and its contents as a borthday present to our Savior.  last year it totalled about $65 dollars not bad for pocket change and offferings of money earned for doing tasks for Papa and Omi by the grandkids. The kids have learned that the more they do for others the more the give and  recieve in the end.

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« Reply #28 on: December 11, 2007, 02:00:08 PM »

We set up a bank with a scene of the nativity on the family altar, every day  the grandchildren and the adults of the family  drop anything they wish in the bank. 

Nice idea!  It's amazing how much pocket change you can amass and how quickly it adds up. 
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« Reply #29 on: December 11, 2007, 02:13:41 PM »

Great idea!
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« Reply #30 on: December 11, 2007, 02:41:13 PM »

Dn. Amde,

I don't think aserb's issue is so much with the mere fact that you and your family undertake those endeavours during Advent as it is that you give the appearance of boasting when you turn around and then detail them all for us here.  While I sincerely doubt this is your intention, it does give the appearance that you are trying to draw attention to how pious you and your family are for not diving into the crass commercialism.  Aren't we commanded to pray out of sight of the world and to not advertise the fact we are fasting?  Why then proclaim to all here that is what you are doing?

As for Saint Nicholas, he was a bishop in the early Church and was present at the First Council of Nicaea, where he punched Arius for his heresy.  His association with gift-giving comes from the tale of him tossing bags of money through the window for a family who couldn't afford their daughters' dowries.  The portrayal of Santa Claus in popular culture is very closely linked to the Dutch portrayal and name (Sinterklaas, meaning Saint Nicholas), where he is typically dressed in red, Western-style bishop's garb.  I'm not sure exactly how the elves and reindeer fit in, but the origins of the tradition are certainly rooted in pious custom.  However, just because our holy traditions have been commercialized is no reason to decide we should have nothing to do with them.  Instead, it should be a guantlet thrown down, challenging us to reclaim them.  Should we really throw out our Saint Nicholas traditions just because someone in the past mixed reindeer and elves in with it?  Absolutely not!  Instead, use it as an opportunity to teach people about the origins of the tradition in Orthodox Christianity and turn it into a chance to witness our faith.  Yes, the commercialism is bad, but that doesn't mean we should turn our back on it all.

It saddens me that you say that I am boasting...it really saddens me.

I only speak about fasting to others who are orthodox and are fasting to share the experience and learn from each other.

I do not talk about or mention in anyway that I am fasting to anyone outside the Holy Church. It is not appropriate nor right. People outside the church are usually very very offended by such acts and lash out if they hear such things mentioned to them.

My being an ordained orthodox clergymen I speak and preach as teacher to the flock of the church about the faith. I am ordained to serve. I am sorry you take my service for boastfulness.

I must say again that I am very saddened by your point of view and am very sorry that some how I have not made the connection with you that I intend.

Thanks for sharing the info on St Nicholis. Can you provide more about his orthodox background?

I am sure that based on the info you gave here you would not allow or support orthodox christians sitting their kids on the lap of the guy in the furry red suit since he is not nor does these guys represent anything remotely related to the St Nicholis you noted here. The guy in the fury red suit today represents a strange world of lies and fantasy. The St Nicholis you noted here was as you said a bishop. And while he may have wore red vestments they were not fury skins topped off with a red stocking cap and he did not have elves or live in the north pole with misses clause.

And while the real St Nicholis may have gave gifts it was not done using a flying sled and stuffing himself down a chimney and all the other brew-ha-ha we partake of.

This is all foolishness that blasphemes the true acts and life of the great bishop you state St Nicholis to really have been. This blaspheme is what I think should be thrown out and NOT accepted by orthodox people. Protestants are outside the church and have no Saints or bishops. So they can do this stuff without any concern. It is very different for the true church believers.

God bless us both.
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« Reply #31 on: December 11, 2007, 02:50:30 PM »

On Christliturgy Eve, I like to melt pepermints in whipped cream and put them into pie pans and pummel passers by with them and say "BAH HUMBUG TO YOUR HOLIDAY TREES AND YOUR FAT SANTAMEN!" 

Later that evening, I go to confession.

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« Reply #32 on: December 11, 2007, 03:05:49 PM »

Veniamin

In case you need a little biblical background for why I shared my life Advent pratices on this thread.
...
1st Timothy Chapter 2

10: And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless.
11: Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.
12: Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.

...

Deacons and Priests are not boasting when their lives are put to task to be a measure of the Churches teachings. This is what God commanded them to do

I am far from the ideal clergymen and my mistakes are more than I am willing to admit openly. But the bible instructs on what we are al suppose to be to each other.

Thanks

And God Bless you

Your Servant
Deacon Amde Tsion
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« Reply #33 on: December 11, 2007, 03:18:45 PM »

Dn. Amde,

Here's some more about St. Nicholas the Wonderworker from the OCA website.

Also, here's some more info about him that discusses Christmas celebrations in various countries with him.

Thank you, I understand the role and responsibilities of deacons.  However, which do you think is a better example for the faithful?  One who does everything they should quietly and without drawing attention to himself or one who does all those same things but ensures that everyone around is aware that he is doing them?  Personally, I think we're far more likely to notice when the priest or deacon doesn't point out what he's doing and instead simply does it.  I think that's what people get upset about; that it appears that you're drawing attention to your pious practices.  Like I said before, I don't think that's what you were trying to do, but it can easily be read that way. 
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« Reply #34 on: December 11, 2007, 03:22:10 PM »

Here is another take on this issue, one you might not be thinking about.

It is your civic duty to go out and shop for gifts. Your shopping helps the economy. Think about it if we didn't do Christmas shopping what would happen during the cold winter months? Less gas would be used, retailers would not have a nice end of the year spike in their cash flow, hard cash would not be entering the markets as it is exchanging hands, the whole northern US economy would be frozen just like the weather.

So do your part and put money back into the economy to keep it rolling so people like me can make more money in the stock market. It is the Christian thing to do!
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« Reply #35 on: December 11, 2007, 03:31:23 PM »

Santa Claus is a imaginary figure dreamed up by Coca cola in the 1940s. People are venerating him as a saint of some sort.

Actually, no.  Only the popular image of Santa Claus as a fat bearded man with rosy cheeks and a big smile wearing a red suit trimmed in white fur is a product of Coca Cola's marketing department.  

Santa Claus "the man" was here long before Coca Cola turned him into a marketing juggernaut.

My wife and I have made a concerted effort to not indulge in the crass commercialism this year.  Whereas in prior years we've gone overboard and have, in fact, bought into the insanity, this year it's just one thing for each other.  We're giving more to charity, both indirectly (via money to an charitable organization) and directly to the poor and hungry, of which there are hundreds to choose from, so to speak, in Baltimore.  We're going to wait until after the Holy Supper on Christmas Eve to decorate our tree (which we still haven't even got yet).  Some hyperdox may find the tree offensive and "Western", but I come from a mostly German stock and my wife from German speaking Polish ancestors: the tree is our blood.  On top of that, I'm an American and it's part of our cultural traditions and totally in keeping with the Christian theme of the season.

One does not have to eschew the so-called popular aspects of the Christmas season in order to keep the fast and prepare for the coming of Holy Infant Jesus.  As with most everything, it's how (and why!) you do it, not what you do.
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« Reply #36 on: December 11, 2007, 03:42:37 PM »

Whereas in prior years we've gone overboard and have, in fact, bought into the insanity, this year it's just one thing for each other.
I've noticed a number of advertisements lately from check-cashing places wanting people to take out loans to buy Christmas gifts. Loans! Shocked Cry

My wife and I, too, only bought one thing for each other, and we exchanged them on St. Nicholas Day. It's a wonderful feeling to look forward to Christmas without the imposed responsibility of buying so much stuff. It actually makes Christmas enjoyable.
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« Reply #37 on: December 11, 2007, 03:56:17 PM »

One does not have to eschew the so-called popular aspects of the Christmas season in order to keep the fast and prepare for the coming of Holy Infant Jesus.  
That is what I was thinking. And we celebrate both the popular and religious aspects of Christmas. However, some missionaries came to my door and they read the following passage from the Bible: "(Jer 10:2-4) Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.  For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the ax. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not."
According to what these missionaries say, Christmas trees, etc., are forbidden by the Bible.
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« Reply #38 on: December 11, 2007, 04:20:50 PM »

Here is another take on this issue, one you might not be thinking about.

It is your civic duty to go out and shop for gifts. Your shopping helps the economy. Think about it if we didn't do Christmas shopping what would happen during the cold winter months? Less gas would be used, retailers would not have a nice end of the year spike in their cash flow, hard cash would not be entering the markets as it is exchanging hands, the whole northern US economy would be frozen just like the weather.

So do your part and put money back into the economy to keep it rolling so people like me can make more money in the stock market. It is the Christian thing to do!

This is really funny...LOL
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« Reply #39 on: December 11, 2007, 04:28:38 PM »

That is what I was thinking. And we celebrate both the popular and religious aspects of Christmas. However, some missionaries came to my door and they read the following passage from the Bible: "(Jer 10:2-4) Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.  For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the ax. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not."
According to what these missionaries say, Christmas trees, etc., are forbidden by the Bible.


I've never heard that before.  Apparently the fact that Jeremias is speaking about a pagan idol and folks actually worshipping a tree is lost on them.  Of course, the way some people carry on about their tree and decorations could be construed as some sort of worship, but that's beside the point Smiley
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« Reply #40 on: December 11, 2007, 04:53:31 PM »

That is what I was thinking. And we celebrate both the popular and religious aspects of Christmas. However, some missionaries came to my door and they read the following passage from the Bible: "(Jer 10:2-4) Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.  For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the ax. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not."
According to what these missionaries say, Christmas trees, etc., are forbidden by the Bible.


The bible is speaking about Idols and not Christmas trees.
I actually have my tree up already. This has never bin a problem for me. Besides. It's no longer called a Christmas tree in New York. It's called a Holiday tree. Shocked They don't leave anyone out of filling the economy with money. laugh
My problem is with Santa Claus Grin. He is an imaginary figure. And yes. My kids do sit on his lap to take pictures at the mall. My point is that it is easier to teach children Christianity when society conforms with Christs teaching. If Santa Claus was St. basil instead. The child would instantly know who we venerate and why. It makes the job much easier for a Christian parent. Wheather we like it or not society is the largest influence on people. Have you ever heard the expression you are what you eat. Or, You are a product of your society. Well if society was Byzantine roman there would most certainly be many more Christians. Where is GIC when you need him. Lips Sealed
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« Reply #41 on: December 11, 2007, 04:54:08 PM »

On Christliturgy Eve, I like to melt pepermints in whipped cream and put them into pie pans and pummel passers by with them and say "BAH HUMBUG TO YOUR HOLIDAY TREES AND YOUR FAT SANTAMEN!" 

Later that evening, I go to confession.



ROFL!   Grin  I thought I was going to get a tasty recipe out of that.  
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« Reply #42 on: December 11, 2007, 04:57:05 PM »

It's a wonderful feeling to look forward to Christmas without the imposed responsibility of buying so much stuff. It actually makes Christmas enjoyable.

Indeed it is.  And I can't wait that long to give gifts. 
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« Reply #43 on: December 11, 2007, 05:18:38 PM »

That is what I was thinking. And we celebrate both the popular and religious aspects of Christmas. However, some missionaries came to my door and they read the following passage from the Bible: "(Jer 10:2-4) Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.  For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the ax. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not."
According to what these missionaries say, Christmas trees, etc., are forbidden by the Bible.


What do you think God is communicating in this passage?

It is clear to me from the reading that all the common acts we find with christmas trees are noted plainly down to nailing the wooden base on the bottom so that it could stand up and be decorated with silver and gold etc.

Does not take much smarts to see that.

I do not think it is about the "Christmas tree" persay. But more about the activities common to hearthens and gentiles in general that are not for us (chosen) to immitate or to be associated with in ANY way. WE are not to be influenced by the world but the world is to be influenced by us.

These customs are not distructive as it is stated but DO NOT edify God and His Glory. As such we should not be rendered as part of these acts even if such rendering is by association and not so much practice.

Seems the Lord is saying if you are not a horse than you should not seem to be one either...Look like a horse, smell like a horse than you are a horse...even if by nature do to association.

It seems that the teaching is that if we are christians we are to stand in Gods glory alone and avoid worldly vanities and practices that keep us grounded in our former selves when were dead...people of the world.....none believers.

This is what is preached in the Ethiopian and Coptic community on this reading.

As such most Ethiopian Christians refrain from putting up trees at all or any of the other what I call 'winterfestive' decorations and symbols in our homes or Church buildings.

We ( I ) do not frown on those who practice there orthodox faith with these activities and symbols. Its just not for us.

I do find that this is changing in America by some Ethiopians. But even these people say they are doing it for the kids and will stop it soon as the kids are bigger.

It seems that each of us have to decide what is best for us.

German people are very connected to these traditions which is to be expected.

America is the land of the protestant and as such has evolved as a pot puree of cultures and not so much by the virtues of the church. These cultural elements were weaved into the protestant mind in general and thus American idealism and way of life which is the main stay and core of the protestant American way of life. To this mindset these activities and images are christian...period.

Americas global influenced ahs helped to push these ideals to other nations as wholely christian activities.  
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« Reply #44 on: December 11, 2007, 05:45:45 PM »

What do you think God is communicating in this passage?

It is clear to me from the reading that all the common acts we find with christmas trees are noted plainly down to nailing the wooden base on the bottom so that it could stand up and be decorated with silver and gold etc.



For one, most of the people I know will not even have a real tree at home. Cannot afford to throw money every year or are ecologists where trees are concerned(Right, what does throwing a Christmas tree after Christmas mean? ). Plastic trees come with a tripod, they fold and can be stored away.

Secondly, while I see some of the points en contre Christmas trees, reading the posts, one of my fondest memories as a child came to mind: that of falling asleep next to our (plastic) Christmas tree with its lights on, staring at the little "fatni" (sorry, I do not know the english word for that) complete with Joseph, Mary, little Jesus, the Magi and the shepherds as well as the animals, at its bottom where the tree lights stood like stars above them. As a kid, this was one of my more religious experiences. It made me think about the birth of Jesus. I cannot wait to get back home for the holidays. We still have the same fatni. laugh

As for presents, there will be less these year. We have so much stuff, it is not as it used to be. The gift will be getting together for the holidays.

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