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Author Topic: The "Christmas" tree. Is it Orthodox? or blaspheme of the true advent?  (Read 9610 times) Average Rating: 0
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Amdetsion
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« on: December 11, 2006, 03:58:11 PM »

===============================================================================
Jeremiah Chapter 10 Verses 1 thru 5

Hear ye the word which the LORD speaketh unto you, O house of Israel:
 
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[i] the customs [/i] of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe.
  
They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.  

They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go.

Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good.
===============================================================================

From the above reading it appears that the ultimate "Christian symbol" of the advent (the ornamented evergreen tree) is used by the Lord as an example of heathen behavior of which and of whom he wants US to avoid patterning ourselves after.

I know orthodox christians that can not imagine christmas without the tree and all the the foley and merry-making associated with todays highly commercial and secular activities.

I myself think its is very beautiful image; the ornamented tree. But all that glitters IS NOT gold.

So the question is:
Are WE happy seeing the "Tree" as the global representation of the most Holy faith of Christianity?

As an orthodox christian I am aware that I (we) are the protectors of the True faith. The Tree with ornaments is a blaspheme therefore. It is a poor example of the advent. It is more of a distraction than anything else.
« Last Edit: December 11, 2006, 04:01:25 PM by Amdetsion » Logged

"ETHIOPIA shall soon stretch out her hands unto God".....Psalm 68:vs 31

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« Reply #1 on: December 11, 2006, 04:03:28 PM »

This attitude is suited better to the Jehova's Witnesses or the Adventist sect than to the Orthodox Church.
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« Reply #2 on: December 11, 2006, 04:20:45 PM »

You are taking a bible verse that applies to something totally different and cutting it (no pun intended) out of context, and applying it where it doesn't belong.

Christmas trees are not heathen things. They are sanctified by hundreds of years of Christian use.

We have Christmas trees in our Cathedral in New York.  And we are Old Calendarist. You don't get more conservative than that. So for me the issue is closed.

Anastasios
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« Reply #3 on: December 11, 2006, 04:27:10 PM »

That's a completely anachronistic and incorrect exegesis of that passage from Jeremiah (which is talking about trees that were cut down, then carved and decorated as idols -- and worshipped as such).

A quick Google search yields the following:

http://www.bible.org/qa.php?topic_id=42&qa_id=473

Question:
Does Jeremiah 10:1-5 show that we should not have a Christmas tree in celebration of Christmas?


Answer:
You've raised a good question. I had a friend point this text out to me at Christmas, as "proof" that the Christmas tree was a pagan practice.

Let me begin by cutting and pasting the commentary on these verses from the Bible Knowledge Commentary:

     
Quote
10:1-5. The first 16 verses of chapter 10 are parenthetical. Before continuing his discussion of the coming Exile, Jeremiah focused on the nature of the God who would bring this judgment. God addressed the entire house of Israel, which included the Northern Kingdom already in exile, and explained the foolishness of idols. Israel was not supposed to learn the ways of idolatry practiced by the nations around her, nor was she to be terrified by signs in the sky. These ”signs“ were most likely unusual occurrences such as eclipses or comets which were thought to be signs of coming events given by the gods.
    Such idolatrous practices were worthless (heḇel, ”breath“; cf. comments on heḇel in Ecc. 1:2) because the ”gods“ being honored were created by their worshipers (cf. Isa. 40:18-20). A person would chop down a tree, give the wood to a craftsman who fashioned it to the desired shape. This ”god“ was then covered with silver and gold and fastened to a base so that it would not totter. Once the god was made by man it had to be carried to its destination. It was as lifeless as a scarecrow in a melon patch. Certainly such a ”god“ could not speak to impart knowledge to its followers. So God exhorted His people not to fear those false idols. The idols had no power to harm those who disregarded them or power to do any good for those who followed them.
    Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. 1983-c1985. The Bible knowledge commentary : An exposition of the scriptures. Victor Books: Wheaton, IL

If we are to interpret Jeremiah 10:1-5 correctly, we should do so I the light of other Scriptures, more than by the mere similarity of a word or two (i.e. "tree"). I think that Isaiah 44:12-28 speaks of the same thing:

   
Quote
12 A blacksmith works with his tool and forges metal over the coals. He forms it with hammers; he makes it with his strong arm. He gets hungry and loses his energy; he drinks no water and gets tired. 13 A carpenter takes measurements; he marks out an outline of its form; he scrapes it with chisels, and marks it with a compass. He patterns it after a man, like a well-built man, and puts it in a shrine. 14 He cuts down cedars and acquires a cypress or an oak. He gets trees from the forest; he plants a cedar and the rain makes it grow. 15 A man uses it to make a fire; he takes some of it and warms himself. Yes, he kindles a fire and bakes bread. Then he makes a god and worships it; he makes an idol and bows down to it. 16 Half of it he burns in the fire— over that half he eats meat; he roasts a meal and fills himself. Yes, he warms himself and says, ‘Ah! I am warm as I look at the fire.’ 17 With the rest of it he makes a god, his idol; he bows down to it and worships it. He prays to it, saying, ‘Rescue me, for you are my god.’ 18 They do not comprehend or understand, for their eyes are blind and cannot see; their minds do not discern. 19 No one thinks to himself, nor do they comprehend or understand and say to themselves: ‘I burned half of it in the fire— yes, I baked bread over the coals; I roasted meat and ate it. With the rest of it should I make a disgusting idol? Should I bow down to dry wood?’ 20 He feeds on ashes; his deceived mind misleads him. He cannot rescue himself, nor does he say, ‘Is this not a false god I hold in my right hand?’ 21 Remember these things, O Jacob, O Israel, for you are my servant. I formed you to be my servant; O Israel, do not forget me. 22 I remove the guilt of your rebellious deeds as if they were a cloud, the guilt of your sins as if they were a cloud. Come back to me, for I protect you.” 23 Shout for joy, O sky, for the Lord intervenes; shout out, you subterranean regions of the earth. O mountains, give a joyful shout; you too, O forest and all your trees! For the Lord protects Jacob; he reveals his splendor through Israel. 24 This is what the Lord, your protector, says, the one who formed you in the womb: “I am the Lord, who made everything, who alone stretched out the sky, who fashioned the earth all by myself, 25 who frustrates the omens of the seers and humiliates the omen readers, who overturns the counsel of the wise men and makes their advice seem foolish, 26 who fulfills the oracles of his prophetic servants and brings to pass the announcements of his messengers, who says about Jerusalem, ‘She will be inhabited,’ and about the towns of Judah, ‘They will be rebuilt, her ruins I will raise up,’ 27 who says to the deep sea, ‘Be dry, I will dry up your sea currents,’ 28 who commissions Cyrus, the one I appointed as shepherd to carry out all my wishes and to decree concerning Jerusalem, ‘She will be rebuilt,’ and concerning the temple, ‘It will be reconstructed.’” 

A man plants a tree (his own labor), and cuts it down (his own labor). Half of the tree he burns in the fire (it certainly does him no good, other than to warm him and cook his food). The other half the man fashions into some "god," the product of his own hands. He created this "god," and he must carry it around. We worship the God who created us, and carries us. How foolish to worship something made of wood, rather than the One True God.

There are superficial similarities between our Christmas tree and the tree of Isaiah or Jeremiah. The Christmas tree is, at best, a symbol. It is not something we worship as a god. Is it something we can do without? It certainly is. But is an idol, a profane thing that we worship, in which we place our trust? I think not.

I can accept the fact that some may refrain from using a Christmas tree out of conscience, but this is not a matter that should be debated, or over which we should divide (see Romans 14:1--15:12).
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« Reply #4 on: December 11, 2006, 04:31:26 PM »

Wow! tough crowd! Shocked

I have a Christmas Tree in my home with an angel on top. I have a small nativity scene with angels which sing.

We've got liberty to celebrate the season as we see fit folks as long as it's done to glorify God.
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« Reply #5 on: December 11, 2006, 04:58:58 PM »

The origin of the Christmas Tree is actually older than most people think. It was originally decorated in the Church of Hagia Sophia. The Ornaments were the Icons of the Ancestors of Christ. It was the Tree of Jesse. The Icon of the Theotokos on the Iconostasis of the Patriarchal Church of St. George in Constantinople is the Tree of Jesse http://www.patriarchate.org/images/img_ec-pat_110.jpg

Here is an early 17th century Jesse Tree from Greece:http://www.culture.gr/2/21/218/218ab/00/l2-121.jpg

And just to show it wasn't confined to the East, here is an early 14th century Jesse Tree from the Queen Mary Psalter in England: http://www.imagesonline.bl.uk/britishlibrary-store/Components/269/26954_2.jpg
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« Reply #6 on: December 11, 2006, 05:18:50 PM »

The origin of the Christmas Tree is actually older than most people think. It was originally decorated in the Church of Hagia Sophia.

The Jesse Tree -- especially the Byzantine practice of decorating it on Christmas -- certainly has some similarities with the modern Christmas tree, but I don't think there's really any direct historical, causal or even symbolical relationship between the two. The provenance is different and the meaning is different. The only real similarity is that they are both decorated trees and both displayed at Christmas time.

That said, I think it would be nice if we Orthodox decorated Jesse Trees.

On that note here’s a (badly) translated piece on the Jesse Tree that tries to argue that it is the original Christmas Tree. I post it because it contains some more info:

CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS
By Very Rev. Alexander Kile, Archimandrite

THE CHRISTMAS TREE

      The Christmas tree comes to us from the Gospel from the family tree of Jesus Christ, which is read the Sunday before Christmas in the Orthodox Churches.  During Byzantine times as the manuscripts testify, Christmas trees were placed in the churches in state of the ornaments they had the prophets icons. On the bottom of the tree the icon of Prophet Jesse on the top a star and in the middle of it the icon of Christ blessing with His two hands.

      Even today, the Ecumenical Patriarch on Christmas wears that sakkos called " O Sakkos Tou Iessae" The mantle of Jesse where is embroidered with gold threads on burgundy velvet material the tree with the Prophets and Jesse at the bottom and Christ on the top.

      After the sack of Constantinople and occupation by the Crusaders during XIIIth century all these items found in the churches were transferred to Italy especially to Venice. When the Byzantines took over Constantinople they found the city empty of all its treasures and relics, had more important things to take care of. So the tradition fade out.

      In the West though the tradition of Christmas Tree flourished especially during Renaissance. Not only churches decorated Christmas trees but also the town squares shops and houses. The pine tree was chosen, imitating the Cedar of Lebanon, that is a tree that never throws its leaves but stands still during the strong winds of winter, so to be strong during the New Year facing any problems that we are going to face.
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« Reply #7 on: December 11, 2006, 05:51:21 PM »

Thanks pensateomnia. The modern Christmas tree either originates in Germany or Latvia and is a fir tree, but even the fir tree is a Christian symbol there. St. Boniface was an eighth century native of England who became the "Apostle to the German People". St. Boniface is said to have come across a group of pagans worshipping an oak tree. He cut it down, and out of it's roots spang an evergreen fir tree, which came to symbolize Christ.

I think it would be nice if we Orthodox decorated Jesse Trees.
If someone is looking for a business venture, I would suggest that they place the icons of the ancestors of Christ on baubles and the icon of the Theotokos of the Sign on a treetop star and sell them as a Christmas tree decoration set. (Nothing like respect for tradition laced with a little greed!)

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« Reply #8 on: December 11, 2006, 06:42:59 PM »

The question is: does the so-called "christmas tree" by whatever standard, historical background, whether used in century 1 or century 100, whether used in your house, church alter...whatever, properly represent the advent of the savior of the world. YES or NO !

In other words if we had to leave all other symbols and traditions behind (imagine); than can the decorated tree speak the true faith of the advent by itself? YES or NO!

Is it THEE best global icon or image for us? YES or NO!

I say absolutely not.

I know their is mountains of background from bishops, priests, popes and patriarchs which attempt to justify the decorated tree. Well and good.

I have also read many essays and commentaries which attempt to confuse the faithful about Jeremiah chapter 10 V 1-5.

I hope that the basic point can be directly responded to. We can always sqwable over what scripture means.


I am an Orthodox clergyman.

Please refrain from vain and disrespectful descriptions and associations.

We all have opinions and views lets be respectable regardless of our differences.

Peace in Christ
Dcn Amde

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« Reply #9 on: December 11, 2006, 06:47:50 PM »

Please refrain from vain and disrespectful descriptions and associations.

Hmmmm... So anyone who disagrees with you is being "vain and disrespectful"....
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« Reply #10 on: December 11, 2006, 06:49:50 PM »

Dear Deacon Amde,

I think you are created a false choice: "if it were the only image..."  Well, it's not the only image so that makes no sense.

"I know their is mountains of background from bishops, priests, popes and patriarchs which attempt to justify the decorated tree. Well and good."

You seem to be holding them in contempt by the way you talk about their position.  "Attempt to justify" is not a polite way of saying "defend the use of."  The first is confrontational and the second would be more neutral.

"I am an Orthodox clergyman.

Please refrain from vain and disrespectful descriptions and associations."

Could you please explain what you view as being disrespectful and vain?  What does your status as a clergyman have to do with anything?  I would attempt to address a layman or a clergyman the same: with respect. If I or anyone has disrespected you then please point that out.

Again, I will follow my Church's practice of using Christmas trees.  The practice of my bishop is more important to me than what appears to be Protestant theories.

Anastasios
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« Reply #11 on: December 11, 2006, 07:08:59 PM »

Chrisb

Thanks.

Thats my point exactly. You want a tree with decorations and all the trimmings. Good for you!

NO cluttered response filled with historical this and that or what kind of hat a patriarch wears as if any of this matters with the point.

You seem to accept that the decorated tree is a good symbol of orthodox christian tradition for the advent.

I want to agree.

But I am among my already stated concerns which come directly out of the bible in plain english also find that muslims and a huge population of non-beleivers have the same joy for this decorated tree. My own sister has expressed her views to me about the Holy Virgin Mary mother of God that would cause your blood to freeze. However; just like my muslim next door nieghbors the tree, lights, and wreaths go up on their homes with great fan fair on time every year.

I do not want to associate with this element.

I think maybe the tree was good once (Maybe); NOT Orthodox but not objectionable either.

Some posts to date talk about all the meaning and history and so on. I think you would agree that most of the people and children these people know do not associate the decorated tree with any of this ancient history. The people all over the world who are exposed to this tree culture see it as a time of fun and games, gifts and toys, food and friends ....party time. People are dreaming of Bonuses and Nintendo for the kids NOT God and His advent.

The Advent fast...Oh yeah

Sad.



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« Reply #12 on: December 11, 2006, 07:15:23 PM »

Amdetsion, if you are indeed a deacon in the Orthodox Church, could you please inform us of your jurisdiction and bishop?
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« Reply #13 on: December 12, 2006, 12:50:42 AM »

Anastasios

You seem to be holding them in contempt by the way you talk about their position.  "Attempt to justify" is not a polite way of saying "defend the use of."  The first is confrontational and the second would be more neutral.

Your above statement is well taken. I chose the words you quoted to mean just what I said "attempt to justify". The Holy Church is bound by its truth its mystery which come down to us from God through Christ and His teachings.

We know the truth from Christ and through the Holy Spirit which came down upon His elect apostles and the traditions the church has maintained up to the present day through the holy fathers. The traditon which started at Jerusalem. This is "Orthodoxy"

I have not read anything apostolic, patristic, biblical or canonical as it relates to decorated pine trees and the mystery of the advent. What I have heard is allot of western traditions which have found a home in the Holy Church and have gained currency which is fiercely defended and protected. Not just by the west but many eastern communities as well. I have many people in my immediate community who love the tree.

I want to read what the Universal Church teaches about this local although universally accepted practice. It has become such a symbol of importance that people get bitterly angry if anyone even slightly mentions something that may seem to cast a bad shadow on this image (the posts on this thread all clearly full of anger). It is loved seemingly more than the church and its mysteries, its sacraments by so many.

I am sorry that this decorated tree is so important to you and your community. I want us to enrich each other on the truth of God and His advent. I believe that we orthodox can and should do this without the tree seeing how commercial and secular this image has become.

I wanted this thread to get opinions on this point . Not fight over the relevance of the specifics.

I am shocked that you have the same approach to clergy as you do to lay members.

I did not mention my status so that I could get special treatment from you or anyone. But so that I could offer some stability and decorum after reading the angry posts. If you like you can talk to me anyway you choose.

I am still your servent.... Thats my point.

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« Reply #14 on: December 12, 2006, 06:14:20 AM »

I have not read anything apostolic, patristic, biblical or canonical as it relates to decorated pine trees and the mystery of the advent. What I have heard is allot of western traditions which have found a home in the Holy Church and have gained currency which is fiercely defended and protected. Not just by the west but many eastern communities as well. I have many people in my immediate community who love the tree.
Why should something be rejected simply on the basis that it is "Western"? Church bells are also originally "Western"- should we remove them from our Churches?

(the posts on this thread all clearly full of anger).
I'm not sure what gives you that idea. Perhaps it would help if you showed which posts seemed to you to contain angry responses.

It is loved seemingly more than the church and its mysteries, its sacraments by so many.
Simply because people disagree with your understanding of Scripture and assesment of Christmas trees does not mean that they value them above the Church.

I want us to enrich each other on the truth of God and His advent. I believe that we orthodox can and should do this without the tree seeing how commercial and secular this image has become.
Just because something has been commercialized doesn't mean that it is not a valuable tradition. Should we stop using wine in the Eucharist since there are so many alcoholics who misuse wine? Should we stop using Icons since they are now mass produced and sold for profit even by the non-Orthodox?

I wanted this thread to get opinions on this point . Not fight over the relevance of the specifics.
But you are getting opinions! You just don't like the fact that they disagree with yours!

I am shocked that you have the same approach to clergy as you do to lay members.
Why should the fact that Anastasios said that he treats both laymen and clergy respectfully shock you so?

I did not mention my status so that I could get special treatment from you or anyone. But so that I could offer some stability and decorum after reading the angry posts.
Again, I think you have misinterpreted them as "angry posts". Could you please tell us which particular post you think is angry?


If you like you can talk to me anyway you choose.
If you read Anastasios' post, he clearly says that he wishes to adress you respectfully, as he would anyone. I don't think anyone has been disrespectful, but if you think otherwise, then please tell us which posts you found disrespectful.
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« Reply #15 on: December 12, 2006, 06:41:02 AM »

===============================================================================
Jeremiah Chapter 10 Verses 1 thru 5....

....The Tree with ornaments is a blaspheme...

You may be interested to know His Grace Bishop Youssef's opinion on this matter as given in response to the following question posed to him by a lay member:

Is it true that Christmas trees and Christmas decorations are derived from a pagan holiday? Is it sinful to celebrate Christmas with a tree and decorations?

His Grace's response:

The Christmas tree is not a pagan tradition and the Holy Book of Jeremiah 10 was definitely not talking about a Christmas tree but rather about cutting down a tree to make into wooden idols for worship. However, I would like to note that although having a Christmas tree is not considered a sin, it does not at the same time edify God. Christmas tree, decorations, Santa Claus, exchanging gifts are all worldly things that deviate our full attention from the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is the real reason for the celebration. Unfortunately, these other things are now considered by many to be the main core of the celebration. Today the Christmas tree occupies a clear space in every home and even in some churches, whilst the Nativity scene, if present, is just in a small corner. I pray that, as we prepare ourselves for the Incarnation and the Birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, that we receive Him in our hearts and have Him as the center of our attention and life in these holy days.

In a nutshell, there is nothing inherently sinful about having a Christmas tree, as long as we don't get so caught up in such traditions at the expense of our focus and attention on the Incarnation of God the Word. It's probably something that should particularly be borne in mind by parents, lest they unwittingly allow their children to be subconsciously disposed to primarily associating Christmas with Christmas trees, presents, decorations etc.
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« Reply #16 on: December 12, 2006, 07:11:51 AM »

I have not read anything apostolic, patristic, biblical or canonical as it relates to decorated pine trees and the mystery of the advent. What I have heard is allot of western traditions which have found a home in the Holy Church and have gained currency which is fiercely defended and protected. Not just by the west but many eastern communities as well.
I wanted to address this seperately, since it seems to be the crucial point you wish to make.
Firstly, simply because a tradition is introduced from the "West" doesn't mean that it cannot be sanctified, as were church bells in Orthodox Churches.
Secondly, there are many traditions in the Orthodox Church which you won't find either in Scripture nor the Fathers, or even the Canons. One example is the Procession of the Epitaphion in the Eastern Orthodox Church. The Epitaphion is a cloth on which is depicted the Burial of Christ. At the end of Vespers on Holy Friday and the at the end of the Matins of Holy Saturday, the Epitaphion is carried in an elaborate procession accompanied by the clergy and the faithful singing the Lamentations. But there is no mention of these processions in any Greek or Slavic Typicon or any other Liturgical book. It is simply a custom which developed in the Churches probably in the 15th or 16th century and has now become an integral part of the Holy Week Services, to the point of being one of the highlights of them. Just like Church bells in Orthodox Churches which came from the Latin West and now have their own Orthodox rubrics about how they are to be rung, the Processions of the Epitaphion have developed their own rubrics also, even though neither of these were in any Orthodox Typicon.
The Church exists to sanctify the Cosmos. This is why we Sanctify the Waters at Theophany. Nothing created by God is to be despised, whether it is water nor the fir tree. Just as the Orthodox Church has sanctified the use of Church bells, she can also santify and imbue with meaning the use of the Christmas Tree.
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« Reply #17 on: December 12, 2006, 02:21:12 PM »

EkhristosAnesti

Thanks for the response. I pray that we all hear the most important part of His Grace Bishop Youssef's explanation and that is:
 
[i]"it does not at the same time edify God. Christmas tree, decorations, Santa Claus, exchanging gifts are all worldly things that deviate our full attention from the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is the real reason for the celebration" ...HG Bishop Youssef[/i]"

My point almost to the letter. Just better worded.

While he does not call it a sin ( which I did'nt either) he says it is NOT GOOD since anything that does not edify God is not worthy of our attention particularly the kind of undying attention and infinite effection people give to the decorated evergreen tree.

If we follow his advise the decorated evergreen tree is better left out of our sight and hearts. It is not a sin; but it is no good; as he said a "deviation".

Thus the decorated tree is not to HG a worthy example of the advent within the orthodox. It has local roots in the west which are good. Local traditons are foound in various communities east and west; but the decorated tree has gained 'global' currency a universal 'iconic' symbol to most of the world as "thee christian symbol of the advent". But it is not. The birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ from the Holy Virgin Mary Mother of God is the Holy Iconic universal symbol of the advent. We do not NEED a decorated trree and piles of gifts to embrace and enjoy this revelation, this incarnation, this truth of God among man. WE can buy gifts and decorate our houses with pine trees, vines and such anytime of the year. It is a pretty and homey concept.

We have local traditions in Ethiopia which are O.K. for us. But I would not agree that our local traditons be used as a "global" representation of the universal church in every case. It is local and in this way its intentions are clear and under control. The current global enterprise which the western tree has become is way out of control. It is a commercial monster netting billions in revenues for the godless money people. This has made it bad for those who are focused but yet want to maintain the tree. I am sorry about that

People can use the tree if they want. To each his own.

But we are obligated to focus on the truth and we must teach it even if it makes people unhappy.

I rest my case on the the word of HG Bishop Youssef.

PS:

HG is blessed.

I have heard him speak many times.

I have a few tapes and books as well.

Dcn Amde Tsion
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« Reply #18 on: December 12, 2006, 02:34:26 PM »

 ozgeorge

Please excuse me but I do not find your itemization of my posts respondible. It is very long and complicated. Maybe I do not understand what you want me to understand.

The point of this thread is really simple. Simple!

Read Chrisb and EkristosEnesti's posts. Thats all it requires.

For my part it remians...the tree decorating is not orthodox and not an appropriate symbol of the advent within orthodoxy.

As HG Bishop Youssef stated..."it does not edify God"

That is my point.

That may not stop you or others from continuing with the fruitless non-spiritual pratice of tree decorating as center piece and focal point of this most holy time.

If you or others like the tree... that is for you.

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« Reply #19 on: December 12, 2006, 03:11:44 PM »

The only person on this thread who said he personally has a Christmas Tree is chrisb, who concluded:

We've got liberty to celebrate the season as we see fit folks as long as it's done to glorify God.

According to Amdetsion, all we must do to understand his simple point is read chrisb's post. One would assume, therefore, (wouldn't one?) that Amdetsion agrees with chrisb that we Christians have liberty to celebrate the season as we see fit? That would indeed be a charitable attitude, wouldn't it?

And, yet, despite this and the fact that ozgeorge has never written that he, ozgeorge, has a Christmas Tree, we read:

That may not stop you or others from continuing with the fruitless non-spiritual pratice of tree decorating as center piece and focal point of this most holy time.

Nor, apparently, will this most holy time stop you from accusing ozgeorge of something he has never professed at any point; nor, apparently, will it stop you from presuming to pass judgment on the spiritual motivation behind an action you have no idea he has performed!
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« Reply #20 on: December 12, 2006, 06:46:48 PM »

 pensateomnia

Chrisb responded to the point of the thread in his own way. The thread asks: "Christmas" tree. Is it Orthodox? or blaspheme of the true advent?

Chrisb said he has a tree, he likes it and will continue with it. That is his porrogative and choice.

That to me is a good response. He Is not going to argue about what is right or wrong, good or bad about the "christmas" tree. He just says plainly that he has no problem with it being a part of his orthodox practice.

Case closed....(for him)

If you feel like he does why don't you just say so instead of tugging the issue along.

I am already certain that the practice is not orthodox as I have stated. The evidence is clear. Thats why I suggested that EkristoEnestis post be visited which inludes the comments of an esteemd priest HG Abuna Youssef. His comments did not praise the tree practice at all. But noted clearly that it ( the tree) does NOT edify God.

That is my view as well...

And as such we orthodox should avoid this image. I would like for Chrisb to avoid it to. But as I said I respect his right to use this image.

I want to be clear:

Please keep your eye on God and His greatness. Nothing we do can enrich us with His glory more than faith in Him. The tree and the whole commercial world it is connected to is contrary to spiritual growth.

Is it no wonder that so many non-beleivers fully embrace the decorated tree but never find God nor care about his advent.

I see so many people who are in darkness but are entranced by the lights they see. This concerns me greatly.

I want to see all my orthodox brothers and sisters completely out of this activity. I want to see our children embracing the advent of Christ with the same excitement they show for all the folly of santa, toys and fun.

I want us to be seperated from things that may, or could lead us down the wrong path.

I want us all to be rich in Gods blessing

Dcn Amde

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« Reply #21 on: December 12, 2006, 06:53:05 PM »

That to me is a good response. He Is not going to argue about what is right or wrong, good or bad about the "christmas" tree. He just says plainly that he has no problem with it being a part of his orthodox practice.
So why is it that you can explain all the reasons why you think that Christmas Trees are the tools of the devil, quoting scripture and giving your version of history, but no one else is allowed to explain the reasons why they disagree?
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« Reply #22 on: December 12, 2006, 07:08:27 PM »

ozgeorge has never written that he, ozgeorge, has a Christmas Tree,
I not only have a Christmas Tree, I have an Advent Wreath with six candles (a la Orthodox Advent). Since I have my Godchildren visit for Sunday Dinner,  Once we've finished worshipping the Christmas Tree and sacrificing chickens under it, I find that lightiing the next candle on the Advent Wreath at the dinner table is a good way to count down to Christmas.
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« Reply #23 on: December 12, 2006, 07:13:15 PM »

LOL
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« Reply #24 on: December 12, 2006, 07:45:11 PM »

So why is it that you can explain all the reasons why you think that Christmas Trees are the tools of the devil, quoting scripture and giving your version of history, but no one else is allowed to explain the reasons why they disagree?

Why would any who claim to be amongst the orthodox desire to disagree with a Great Defender of the Ancient Traditions of the Holy Fathers, the Most Reverend Deacon Amdetsion?

It should be manifest to any who are truly amongst the Orthodox that the so-called 'Christmas Tree' is a most vile and blasphemous abomination against the Most Holy Incarnate Pre-Eternal Son of God.

Is it not clear to ye workers of iniquity that the 'Christmas Tree' is made of wood? Numbers 35:18 clearly teaches that it is wood that makes murder a sin. 1 Corinthians 3:12-13 also talks about the evils wood, saying that God will destroy it, for it is iniquity. 2 Timothy 2:20 goes on to say that wood is dishonourable. Finally, in Revelation 8:11 the Evil One himself is named after the most evil element of wood and scriptures proclaim that wood shall be a herald of the apocalypse.

But, of course, these are not all the evils of the 'Christmas Tree,' for trees, and especially so-called 'Christmas Trees' come from forests. And we all know that forests are where the primitive and barbaric pagans gathered to worship false gods and spirits. Thus it should be clear to all those who take trees into their house take pagan altars into their house, they create shrines to all kinds of unclean spirits and give over their souls to false gods.

Furthermore, 'Christmas Trees' are green. Oh, how beelzebub wallows in the greenness of 'Christmas Trees,' for green is the colour of envy, of covetousness. See how by the 'Christmas Tree' the All-Evil-One turns brother against brother, creates division amongst the faithful, and shall bring everlasting damnation to the lost souls of those who indulge in this most base of iniquities.

And finally, the 'Christmas Tree' contains one more evil that is almost unutterable: 'Christmas Trees' have branches. This is, of course, a diabolical invention of Lucifer to divide and destroy the body of Christ, as those who have heard of the 'Branch Theory' no doubt already know. Thus, is it manifest that those who have 'Christmas Trees' are schismatics, heretics, and apostates of the worst kind. Thus we proclaim with the Holy Fathers, Anathema to Sabellius, Anathema to Arius, Anathema to Apollinaris, Anathema to Nestorius, Anathema to Eutyches, Anathema to the Iconoclasts, and Anathema to all owners of 'Christmas Trees'!
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« Reply #25 on: December 12, 2006, 09:58:51 PM »

Why would any who claim to be amongst the orthodox desire to disagree with a Great Defender of the Ancient Traditions of the Holy Fathers, the Most Reverend Deacon Amdetsion?

It should be manifest to any who are truly amongst the Orthodox that the so-called 'Christmas Tree' is a most vile and blasphemous abomination against the Most Holy Incarnate Pre-Eternal Son of God.

Is it not clear to ye workers of iniquity that the 'Christmas Tree' is made of wood? Numbers 35:18 clearly teaches that it is wood that makes murder a sin. 1 Corinthians 3:12-13 also talks about the evils wood, saying that God will destroy it, for it is iniquity. 2 Timothy 2:20 goes on to say that wood is dishonourable. Finally, in Revelation 8:11 the Evil One himself is named after the most evil element of wood and scriptures proclaim that wood shall be a herald of the apocalypse.

But, of course, these are not all the evils of the 'Christmas Tree,' for trees, and especially so-called 'Christmas Trees' come from forests. And we all know that forests are where the primitive and barbaric pagans gathered to worship false gods and spirits. Thus it should be clear to all those who take trees into their house take pagan altars into their house, they create shrines to all kinds of unclean spirits and give over their souls to false gods.

Furthermore, 'Christmas Trees' are green. Oh, how beelzebub wallows in the greenness of 'Christmas Trees,' for green is the colour of envy, of covetousness. See how by the 'Christmas Tree' the All-Evil-One turns brother against brother, creates division amongst the faithful, and shall bring everlasting damnation to the lost souls of those who indulge in this most base of iniquities.

And finally, the 'Christmas Tree' contains one more evil that is almost unutterable: 'Christmas Trees' have branches. This is, of course, a diabolical invention of Lucifer to divide and destroy the body of Christ, as those who have heard of the 'Branch Theory' no doubt already know. Thus, is it manifest that those who have 'Christmas Trees' are schismatics, heretics, and apostates of the worst kind. Thus we proclaim with the Holy Fathers, Anathema to Sabellius, Anathema to Arius, Anathema to Apollinaris, Anathema to Nestorius, Anathema to Eutyches, Anathema to the Iconoclasts, and Anathema to all owners of 'Christmas Trees'!

Dude, we've spoken many times here at HC, here on OC.net, and in a few fine establishments of the "greater" Boston Area (oxymoron) which happen to have cold beverages on tap... But this takes the cake.  Easily your best piece on OC.net.  Congrats!
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« Reply #26 on: December 12, 2006, 11:23:00 PM »


Ozgeorge:
I never mentioned or implied that tree decorating is evil or tools thereof.

cleveland, greekischristian:

You lost me???

But I am glad you two have found each other.
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« Reply #27 on: December 12, 2006, 11:32:57 PM »

I never mentioned or implied that tree decorating is evil or tools thereof.

Yes, you did.  It's right here:

It is a commercial monster netting billions in revenues for the godless money people.

Sounds like a "tools thereof [sic]" to me.
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« Reply #28 on: December 12, 2006, 11:40:47 PM »

"Sounds like".....


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« Reply #29 on: December 12, 2006, 11:52:54 PM »

The following is copied from a previous post:

You may be interested to know His Grace Bishop Youssef's opinion on this matter as given in response to the following question posed to him by a lay member:

Is it true that Christmas trees and Christmas decorations are derived from a pagan holiday? Is it sinful to celebrate Christmas with a tree and decorations?

His Grace's response:

The Christmas tree is not a pagan tradition and the Holy Book of Jeremiah 10 was definitely not talking about a Christmas tree but rather about cutting down a tree to make into wooden idols for worship. However, I would like to note that although having a Christmas tree is not considered a sin, it does not at the same time edify God. Christmas tree, decorations, Santa Claus, exchanging gifts are all worldly things that deviate our full attention from the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is the real reason for the celebration. Unfortunately, these other things are now considered by many to be the main core of the celebration. Today the Christmas tree occupies a clear space in every home and even in some churches, whilst the Nativity scene, if present, is just in a small corner. I pray that, as we prepare ourselves for the Incarnation and the Birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, that we receive Him in our hearts and have Him as the center of our attention and life in these holy days.....HG Bishop Youssef

As noted by EkristosEnesti:
In a nutshell, there is nothing inherently sinful about having a Christmas tree, as long as we don't get so caught up in such traditions at the expense of our focus and attention on the Incarnation of God the Word. It's probably something that should particularly be borne in mind by parents, lest they unwittingly allow their children to be subconsciously disposed to primarily associating Christmas with Christmas trees, presents, decorations etc.

I thought this post deserved repeating.



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« Reply #30 on: December 13, 2006, 04:27:17 AM »

Anathema to the New Calendarists who have corrupted the Orthodox faith!
Anathema to all owners of 'Christmas Trees'!
Only two anathemas in a week....I must be slipping....
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« Reply #31 on: December 11, 2007, 12:27:07 PM »

*bump*

Thought this was relevant given the Christmas Cash thread.  Please pay special attention to reply #24.
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« Reply #32 on: December 11, 2007, 01:55:26 PM »

*bump*

Thought this was relevant given the Christmas Cash thread.  Please pay special attention to reply #24.

Why?

Greekischristian as always proved that he is truely the consumate funny man.
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« Reply #33 on: December 11, 2007, 04:55:14 PM »

I have a christmas tree in my house.... It has alot of ornaments with Saints and iconographic depictions as well as ornaments related to events that are worth remembering (e.g. my baptism, my first 5 birthdays, my parents wedding, etc.) If anything, the christmas tree reminds me of Christ, His Saints, the church, and most importantly the events in my life that I can share and relate back to the church. I certainly don't think that any of those items would be harmful. Am I supposed to be ashamed of my baptism or my parent's wedding or my birth? If it wasn't for these 3 specific events, I wouldn't be in the church. So why should I consider this tree and its ornamentation evil again?

-Nick
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« Reply #34 on: December 11, 2007, 05:16:43 PM »

I have a christmas tree in my house.... It has alot of ornaments with Saints and iconographic depictions as well as ornaments related to events that are worth remembering (e.g. my baptism, my first 5 birthdays, my parents wedding, etc.) If anything, the christmas tree reminds me of Christ, His Saints, the church, and most importantly the events in my life that I can share and relate back to the church. I certainly don't think that any of those items would be harmful. Am I supposed to be ashamed of my baptism or my parent's wedding or my birth? If it wasn't for these 3 specific events, I wouldn't be in the church. So why should I consider this tree and its ornamentation evil again?

-Nick 

We also have quite a few icons and photos on ours.  I think the context of the condemnation of tree worship is just that - the pagans were worshiping trees.  We're not, and to the opposite extreme, we're adorning them with Christian symbols.



I think Dn. Amde's point is that they're not necessarily evil, but not necessary, and there are better things to have up in the house than a Christmas Tree.
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« Reply #35 on: December 11, 2007, 05:29:30 PM »

We also have quite a few icons and photos on ours.  I think the context of the condemnation of tree worship is just that - the pagans were worshiping trees.  We're not, and to the opposite extreme, we're adorning them with Christian symbols.



I think Dn. Amde's point is that they're not necessarily evil, but not necessary, and there are better things to have up in the house than a Christmas Tree.

Okay, Thanks for the clarification. I guess I misread his point. I still maintain that my tree helps me more than it hurts.

-Nick
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« Reply #36 on: December 11, 2007, 05:48:23 PM »

We also have quite a few icons and photos on ours.  I think the context of the condemnation of tree worship is just that - the pagans were worshiping trees.  We're not, and to the opposite extreme, we're adorning them with Christian symbols.



I think Dn. Amde's point is that they're not necessarily evil, but not necessary, and there are better things to have up in the house than a Christmas Tree.

Thanks

My point exactly.

It is up to each of us to work our salvation.

We are not in this world but for no other reason but to 'prepare for eternity'.

The Church is our means by which we are to know the truth and be comforted by it while we watch others in the world live a life filled with death and hopelessness. WE are to be a light to these people, the clear direction that will take them to the place which will make them one of us.

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« Reply #37 on: December 11, 2007, 05:54:45 PM »

Amde Tsion:

I think the problem is that you find western cultural traditions repugnant and you a re cloaking your disgust in religionspeak which I find disgusting. Just say it. You find our Christmas customs repugnant, offensive to your cultural world view.

Sorry, but many Slavic peoples grew up on the border lands of east and western Europe and have adopted customs like a tree or yule log.  We in the west grew up with this. I still have the creche of the Holy Family that my parents had and I plan to give it to my daughter.

Christmas to me has always been a religious time and always will be no matter what crass commercialism does.
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« Reply #38 on: December 11, 2007, 06:22:29 PM »

Dear Deacon Amde,

I grew up in Ukraine, and the Christmas tree to me is one of the dearest customs of my people. Why in the world does it not "edify God?" OK, it has Pagan roots. But then, why do we celebrate the feast of Nativity of our Lord on December 25? The time of this celebration also has Pagan roots - in ancient Rome, at that time they celebrated their Saturnalias. Nonetheless, we, Christians, turned this originally Pagan holiday into our dearest Christian holiday. Similarly, we took Pagan logs and fur three branches; we adopted them, and now we decorate them with angels, candles, crosses and icons of our Saints.

I don't believe we need to be such "rigorists," such "Jacobins" in purging everything "pagan" from the decorum of our Holidays.

Respectfully, in Christ's love and service,

George
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« Reply #39 on: December 11, 2007, 06:29:36 PM »

God bless !


The origin of the Christmas Tree;

The Christmas Tree has its origin in the missionary endeavors of St. Boniface, the Apostel to the Germans ( celebrated Dec. 19). About 1200 years ago, as St. Boniface was attempting to evangelize the Germanic peoples, he encountered a group of pagan tribesmen in the process of sacrificing a little boy to their god in the presence of a decorated oak tree. St. Boniface leaped into action and cut the the "sacred oak" Tree down in front of them. As the oak tree fell, a young fir tree sprang up. St. Boniface immediately explained that the fir Tree was a sign of the Christian God, Jesus Christ. Since it was winter, all the sacred trees of the pagans were "dead" and "lifeless." St. Boniface compared their false gods to the dead trees.

Then he pointed to the evergreen fir tree. This is the Christian God, he instructed:
"evergreen, full of life, conquering death, every fruitful." Using the trees as his object lesson, he taught them the birth of Christ brought new life to the world. This is why today we hang lights and ornaments on our Christmas Trees. Christ is born to give new life to the world, to bring light into the darkness and to change our lifeless lives into ones that bear abudant fruit.

Hanging lights on our houses:

The practice of hanging lights on our houses actually comes from the ancient Christian custom of placing lit candles in the windows on Christmas Eve. When the Theotokos and St. Joseph the Betrophed came to Bethlehem, all the lights were out. An ancient Symbol of hospitality was a lit candle in the window. If there was no candle, there was "no room in the inn". To show that their lives and homes were open for the new Christ Child, ancient Christians took to putting candles in their windows on Christmas Eve.

The Christmas Tree is a christian and not pagan custom. St. Boniface used the fir tree as Symbol for Christ and for his missionary work like St. Patrick the clover-leaf. The Christmas Tree is a Symbol of Christ -he is always the same and does not change, like the pagan gods which the germans venerated in oak trees- the lights on the Tree are Symbols for Christs Light, usually the decoration and ornaments in acient time were all christian Symbols, stars of straw -the straw of the manger, the star of Bethlehem ( often placed on the top), it is also a Symbol of the Tree of Paradise and so the ancients decorated the Christmas tree with apples.....with sweets - it reminds of the sweetnes of Christ ......and so on....

I think every "cutsom" can become "pagan"  when it is emptied of the Christian message- we should not forget that the Christmas Tree is a Symbol of Christ.

IN CHRIST

And here in Europe the children receive the gifts on the Christmas Evening from the Christchild ( because through Christ's Nativity we all received the greatest "gifts") and all should rejoice and not from Santa Claus - I think this is a pagan custom ?
« Last Edit: December 11, 2007, 06:44:36 PM by Christodoulos » Logged
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« Reply #40 on: December 11, 2007, 06:34:42 PM »

I've got a better idea.  Let's call off the whole holiday, kay?  We Orthodox do not celebrate Mass, and since Christ Mass is what the holiday is based on, we should anathemize it all together.   Such popeish things need never enter the Eternal world of the One True Church ever again.  And along with that, let's also give up Pascha, since it was originally Jewish, and we cannot have that, because we know that Christianity has nothing to do with Judaism.  And while we're at it lets remove those horrible Icons from our churches, as they they are Idols in violation of the Second Commandment of God, and Commuion, since it is seen as some sort of canabalism.  Oh, yes, and the sign of the cross?  Pagan torture device that defames the Resurrection.  Can't have that.  And no more candles, because candles have flames, and fire is representative of the devil and hell.  And those eight point stars have to go, because they are Buhddist representations, and the fish as it is the mark of the cult of Posiedon,  and the chalice must go, because it promotes drunkeness.

No, let us worship in an undiscript building with whitewashed walls and no decoration, save the word of God printed on the front, and drink grape juice and talk about Jesus....

Oy veh!  

Look, it's been okay for a long time.  I'ts okay now.  If it ain't broke (and it aint broke), dont fix it, lest we become Presbyterians.

Peace!
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« Reply #41 on: December 11, 2007, 06:47:56 PM »

^ Post of the Month nomination.
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« Reply #42 on: December 11, 2007, 07:16:23 PM »

Amde Tsion:

I think the problem is that you find western cultural traditions repugnant and you a re cloaking your disgust in religionspeak which I find disgusting. Just say it. You find our Christmas customs repugnant, offensive to your cultural world view.

Sorry, but many Slavic peoples grew up on the border lands of east and western Europe and have adopted customs like a tree or yule log.  We in the west grew up with this. I still have the creche of the Holy Family that my parents had and I plan to give it to my daughter.

Christmas to me has always been a religious time and always will be no matter what crass commercialism does.

You have presumed wrongly.

Please try not to be so presumptious.

Your words are very sharp as well. Are you offended by something I said?  If so I am sorry.

WE all come form different backgrounds and traditions. I am all for cultural diversity.

You have not read many of my posts on other subjects where I praise a lot of western tradition. I am praying that certain traditions common ot the Russians be obsorbed in my local church community.

I order all my cassocks from the Ukraine and Bulgaria. My Bishop allows me to do it although we make our own in Ethiopia. I am trying to get the guts to ask my bishop if I can wear the Greek Starion.

I love the fact that we are all a vast community of traditons and one faith and one church.

You are being too defensive it seems. I am not trying to hurt your feelings or make you feel bad about your cultural traditions.

You are entitled to have christmas trees, yule logs, misle-toe etc. if that is what keeps you centered in Christ. Thats your choice of course

That does mean these things are good for all of us or that it is the Universal standard for the Holy Church worldwide

The Irish christians have St Patrick. Why don't we all enjoy the celebration of St Patrick's day?

Just because the Irish celebbrate St Patrick with all the eating and excessive binge drinking does not mean they all do that or that we all should or that this act is the Universal standard of the Holy Church. It is local only and thus does not DEFINE the faith and practice of Christianity.

I do not drink. That does not mean I am puttong down the Irish for doing the drinking. I celebrate St Patrick every year with the cabbage and (not the meat cause of lent). I even wear a nice pair or tartan plaid wool slacks and a very nice shetland sweater hand made in Ireland. My wife also loves to put on all her best Irish Christian music. My wife does a soft shoe jig that you would not believe (although not during lent). She is not a dancer but she found the style of dance very conservative and 'soulful'. She trained in this Irish dance before we were married and before I was ordained.

In Ethiopia we do not wear shoes anywhere in side the church building. WE donot look down on those who do wear shoes in church buildings. Its our way of life, our tradition.

These are just examples...

Pleae allow others not agree with you.

It also helps if we learn each others views about the faith we share.

Thanks
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« Reply #43 on: November 28, 2010, 01:41:39 PM »

Recent article from the Preacher's Institute on the Christmas Tree.

Quote
The Christmas tree does not date from early Germanic times. Its origins are to be found in a tradition that has virtually disappeared from Christianity, the Liturgical Drama. In the Middle Ages liturgical plays or dramas were presented during or sometimes immediately after the services in the churches of Western Europe. The earliest of these plays were associated with the Mysteries of Holy Week and Easter. Initially they were dramatizations of the liturgical texts. The earliest recorded is the Quem quaeritis (“Whom do you seek?”) play of the Easter season. These plays later developed into the Miracle and Morality plays. Some were associated with events in the lives of well-known saints. The plays were presented on the porches of large churches. Although these liturgical dramas have now virtually disappeared, the Passion Play of Oberammergau, Germany is a recent revival of this dramatic form.

One mystery play was presented on Christmas Eve, the day which also commemorated the feast of Adam and Eve in the Western Church. The “Paradise Play” told the well-known story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Paradise. The central “prop” in the play was the Paradise Tree, or Tree of Knowledge. During the play this tree was brought in laden with apples.

The Paradise Tree became very popular with the German people. They soon began the practice of setting up a fir tree in their homes. Originally, the trees were decorated with bread wafers commemorating the Eucharist. Later, these were replaced with various kinds of sweets. Our Christmas tree is derived, not from the pagan yule tree, but from the paradise tree adorned with apples on December 24 in honor of Adam and Eve. The Christmas tree is completely biblical in origin.
http://preachersinstitute.com/2010/11/26/in-defense-of-the-christmas-tree/
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