newthingsold

The wise man is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things both new and old.

Tag: Christmas

The Berenstain Bears thoughtfully retell a potentially challenging Christmas tale.

This is a review of The Berenstain Bears: The Very First Christmas by Jan and Mike Berenstain.

My wife is pregnant with our first child. My wife and I were both raised in the Church, and intend on doing the same with our child. In the Christian faith- and much of U.S. culture- Christmas is an important holiday. And for even many not raised in Church, the Nativity story still holds a special place in Christmas tradition. But how does one share the Nativity story in a way that will not confuse a young child or inadvertently create an opportunity for the birds-and-the-bees talk much sooner than expected? For decades, the Berenstains have been using their bear characters to try and teach children some rather intricate moral and ethical issues, so one would like to believe that if anyone could give the Nativity story a proper telling that little children could follow, it would be Jan and Mike Berenstain. And they stand up well to the challenge.

The book begins with Papa Bear offering to read Brother and Sister Bear a story; they choose the story of the very first Christmas. Papa Bear is used to tell the story of the first Christmas, and they story is told in a way to be accurate while cleverly avoiding moments which would require a parent to explain to an inquisitive child what a virgin is, and why an angry king named Herod would want to kill all little boys. So as to not spoil the story, I will not tell how the writers accomplish this. I will state that instead, the end of the book has some open-ended questions to engage children in the story after reading it.

One tiny flaw I found in the book is that the story does not tie back to the Bear family after Papa finishes reading. It would have been a fitting way to tie everything up in a neat bow; but, overall the book is effective at its task of retelling the story of the first Christmas. This book would definitely be a good choice for a young child’s first Christmas book.

I received my copy of this book for free through the BookLook Bloggers program in exchange for publishing a review on the book. I was not obligated to post a positive review; the opinions expressed are mine.

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Today is (not) about Jesus: a meditation on Christmas.

I am one to over-dramatize things.  I tend to lean on the side of self-aggrandizement.  Today is not about me; today is not about you; today is not about the day the Western world claims to be the birthday of Jesus; it is about something far greater.  This morning, I was reading from my Bible which I usually do in the morning before Sarah and the pets get up, and came across this verse:

“Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other.”  -Psalm 85:10, ESV.

Regardless of what a person believes, there is a reason that Christmas is a holiday not limited to individuals who attempt to adhere to a Christian worldview.  No person can argue against the good for the community in which the historical Jesus of Nazareth lived.  Some read accounts and see a man who loved people and a mythology of miracles began to surround him; I believe that Divine Love made itself present in a physical world, and that Love created an atmosphere of possibility where miracles took place.

In having a day on the calendar to celebrate the Incarnation of Love in the person of Jesus, we in humanity recognize the potential for love, peace, faithfulness and righteousness to truly be present among us.  We testify that more than 2000 years ago, a person walked the earth who lived so radically, all who encountered him witnessed a life where faithfulness and love intersected and righteousness and peace were demonstrated.  We see the hope that humanity could stop clinging on to the things that divide and embrace the very things that unite.  When we celebrate Christmas, we celebrate the thought that one day all of humanity could imitate the personality traits of Jesus.

Last night, Sarah and I attended a watch night service at a Catholic church where the priest placed a challenge to the parishioners.  The Nativity Story is poignant because if hatred and grudges take up all the space so that there is no room in the inn of our hearts, then love has no choice but to reside in the outskirts of our lives.  On this Christmas Day, I choose to celebrate the thought that a world of Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Gentleness, Faithfulness, and Self-Control is possible because of the actions lived out by one Man.