“Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: Though your sins be as scarlet I can make them whiter than snow…” (Isaiah 1:18). There is a richness to the Biblical books and the cycle of annual celebrations – such as Christmas – that are not immediately evident to some. The verse above suggests the importance of reasoning while stressing the mercy of God. Each are essential, even if our senses may be dulled to that reality. Why did God come as an infant child? Why was he born in a stable? Why wasn’t he ‘born’ in a palace as an adult king? Humility. Solidarity. To protect our free will. These are just some of the answers that a suffering humanity thirsts for, knowingly or not. As context for the Scriptural verse preceding the above (Isaiah 1:17), it reads: “Learn to do right; seek justice and correct the oppressor. Defend the fatherless and plead the case of the widow.” The coming of the Messiah has over 200 distinctive prophetic verses, say Biblical scholars. But once someone understands why God took the form of an infant born in a stable, the connections to the story of creation and salvation leap off any of the pages one might turn to randomly.
“THE PILGRIM’S PROGRESS was written over 340 years ago by John Bunyan when he was in prison. The story of Pilgrim’s Progress has been smuggled to the underground church during communism, banned for a time in China, and has sold more copies than any other book other than the Bible.” So says part of the post that contains the full-length video shown below. This is not an explicitly Christmas story, but we happened to watch it as a family on Christmas eve. Following a short introduction by a narrator, the movie is mostly a cartoon-style tale. It is rated for ages 7 and up.
Among the thousands of posted comments is this one by Katydid: “Tonight I asked God where he was? Why hasn’t he helped America? This movie reminded me and gave me the answer, even though I knew it all along. I’m so sorry for doubting. I love you God and know you’re always with us. Thank you for sending this movie to me tonight.” Millions have watched this well rated tale.
All too often, people judge by external appearances. But there is much that simply can’t be known at a glance about any person or thing. Pilgrim’s Progress, says eNotes, “is classified as…[a] religious allegory.” It is no substitute for the Bible, but it is a useful companion to those who wonder why God permits this or that to occur in our personal life or in society at large. God gave humanity freedom to choose between right and wrong. With that freedom come consequences. God also gave humanity a set of guidelines to follow, which are the Ten Commandments which Jesus neatly summed up in two great commandments. With obvious-to-believers notable exceptions, “all have sinned” and thus fall short “of the Glory of God.” (Romans 3:23).
How does fallen humanity atone for sin? We can’t. We are imperfect, while God is the fullness of perfection. God could have chosen any number of ways to redeem those who want redemption. At some level, we all secretly yearn for it, because that is part of our human nature – to desire to seek union with God, in what Bunyan called the Celestial City.
If we are candid with ourselves, we have at some time or another felt like Charlie Brown in this classic snippet. Scorned, laughed at, derided, Charlie Brown asks – can anyone explain to me the true meaning of Christmas? Linus gives the correct reply.
Every year we bring a different theme to Christmas here, but that is because its richness can never be exhausted. How could it be? Christmas is of Divine origin. God is eternal, almighty, and all merciful. But not even God will break his own rules. He will no save anyone against their own free will. We are given the grace needed, moment by moment. But we must humbly turn to that grace in response. Then, to the point of Bunyan’s allegorical tale, we must learn to walk the path of a pilgrim despite the distractions and tricks of our adversary, the devil, who wants nothing more than to see us in hell.
Hell and heaven both start on earth. To whichever we stretch out the ‘hands’ of our lives, we are given. Thankfully, it is not too late to start. We journey from a series of partial or incomplete insights, if we select correctly, toward the fullness of truth.
Bunyan focused on the individual, rightly so. We each make individual choices. But as the video version of the tale posted above suggests, when one person inspires another, there is a discernable change in society. This see saw back and forth between secular (nonreligious, or even demonic) forces and those inspired by the Spirit of God will continue side by side until the end of time.
In his Christmas homily Rev. Emmanuel Akalue responded briefly to those who say that Christmas is a pagan festival. He pointed to Moses use of his staff as a demonstration of the power of God, turning it into a snake in Pharoah’s presence. But Pharoah’s magicians (sorcerers) seemed to have the power to do the same thing. But the snake formed from Moses staff by God’s power swallowed up those of Pharoah’s sorcerers. Yes, said Rev. Akalue, there was an ancient pagan festival at this time of year. But the Christian Christmas swallowed it up over time. Try to find a sun worshiper (the ancient pagan feast that Christmas supplanted), he said. Have you met someone who worship’s the son as if it were divine?
Christmas is a contraction of two words – Christ’s Mass. It was and remains the annual liturgical celebration of the coming into human history in the person of the baby Jesus to begin the process of our salvation. As God so often seems to do, the Nativity of the Lord is full of surprises. Both the rich yet humble wise men and the poor and humble shepherds sought him, while the angels sang of peace to all people of good will. There is a pragmatic wisdom as well as an elevating joy to following the will and pathway of God.
Additional thoughts and resources are linked. To all who see this, as well as to those who don’t, merry Christmas. ##
Here on MHLivingNews, dozens of times a year, we lay out the facts and insights that some others are too unmotivated, agenda-driven, or otherwise uninformed to do. That’s what makes this and our business daily news sister site – MHProNews – the runaway leaders for authentic information about affordable housing in general, the politics behind the problems, and manufactured homes specifically. That’s a wrap on this installment of “News through the lens of manufactured homes and factory-built housing” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (Affordable housing, manufactured homes, reports, fact-checks, analysis, and commentary. Third-party images or content are provided under fair use guidelines for media.) (See Related Reports, further below. Text/image boxes often are hot-linked to other reports that can be access by clicking on them.)
By L.A. “Tony” Kovach – for MHLivingNews.com.
Tony earned a journalism scholarship and earned numerous awards in history and in manufactured housing. For example, he earned the prestigious Lottinville Award in history from the University of Oklahoma, where he studied history and business management. He’s a managing member and co-founder of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and MHLivingNews.com. This article reflects the LLC’s and/or the writer’s position, and may or may not reflect the views of sponsors or supporters.
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