If you haven’t heard, there is a Christmas production being done by Kingdomcity. Visit Youtube and search for Kingdomcity Christmas Remix. For the last few years, the idea has been to get pop and classic songs and retell the Christmas story in a cheerful way.
Go to Youtube to search for it now.
I enjoy going to Church mainly because of the community and the fellowship we share. On Wednesday nights, we have Connect Groups (some call them Cell Groups/Home meetings) where the local group meets at a member’s home, shares food, prays for one another, and learns valuable lessons from our pastors. My dad is fond of saying that we need to be well physically, mentally, and also spiritually.
Guided by one or two leaders, the session starts with a video featuring a song of praise, then a 10 minute message with a discussion topic for the group to ponder upon. To join and experience a Connect group, visit kingdomcity.com/connect
Did you know that some narratives from the Bible claim the mother of Jesus (Mary) was raped by a Roman soldier? That would explain the “miraculous birth” of Jesus, usually said to have been born of a virgin’s womb.
Uglyluhan’s notes: “This is not so much a narrative of the Bible as a modern attempt at explaining the virgin birth in scientific terms. An alternate version of this is impregnation by aliens, popular among “ancient astronaut” conspiracy theorists. Even so, Mary’s virginity is not without controversy, and interpretations differ among both Christians and Muslims. The doctrine of Mary’s perpetual virginity is upheld by mainstream Catholics, but this would mean that the brothers of Jesus are not biological siblings. According to this view, the word adelphoi (literally “of the same womb”) should instead be translated as brethren. Regardless of Mary’s virginity after the birth of Jesus, all classical traditions believe in the immaculate conception. Modern commentators have noted that the Hebrew language has a few words for virgin, each with their own connotations. Isaiah’s prophecy of a virgin birth uses the word ‘almah meaning a childless woman rather than bethulah which is closer in meaning to the English word. This ambiguity exists with the English term “maiden” which can mean either a virgin or a young girl.”
Did you know that some Bible commentators claim that 40 days / 40 years is just another way of saying a “really really long time”? So in the story of the flood, 40 days and 40 nights of flood simply means a long time, not literally 40 days.
And did you know that Jesus walked “by water” and not “on water”? This is a claim that makes Jesus seem less of a “god” and more of a human being.
Uglyluhan’s notes: “This is an alternate translation of a story reported in three of the four Gospels. Apparently the original Greek phrase can mean either “by” or “on”, depending on the context. Matthew makes it clear that Jesus was walking on rather than by water as he relates that the apostle Peter attempted to do the same but his lack of faith caused him to start sinking, something that wouldn’t be possible if he were merely walking by water. Mark and John don’t include the reference to Peter walking on water, but all agree that the disciples were in a boat that was already a distance away from the shore. While it may be said that the water was shallow, this would conflict with Matthew’s account of Peter sinking into the water. An alternate interpretation put forth by professor of oceanography Doron Nof is that Jesus may have walked on an isolated patch of ice, though he acknowledges that the chances of ice naturally forming on the water’s surface in that part of the world would be something of a miracle in itself.”
Jesus was about 33 years old when he died, which some believe was the average lifespan back. It’s like Mahathir (97 years old) saying “I will die for your sins” and getting nailed to a cross, only to be worshipped thousands of years after his death. Again, people seek to dilute the significance of God’s divinity.
Uglyluhan’s notes: “The human lifespan is biological and hasn’t changed much, if at all, since biblical times. What has changed is the life expectancy, which is a statistical average. Life expectancy can tell us about the living conditions of a particular era, but can be misleading. A society with a life expectancy of 35 more likely means that half the population dies in infancy and the other half lives to 70 rather than everyone dying at age 35. Jesus was not considered old at the time of his death. The Greek poet Hesiod for example considered one’s late 20s to be the ideal age for a man to get married and begin raising a family. Hardly a wise decision if everyone at the time would die a mere decade later. Aspiring politicians in ancient Rome couldn’t run for office until age 30 (25 under Emperor Augustus), and had to be at least 43 to reach the level of consul. This isn’t so different from the modern US which has a minimum age of 35 for the office of presidency.
You also confused the terms lifespan and life expectancy. The human lifespan didn’t actually change, since that’s purely biological. A hamster’s lifespan is up to a year, but they commonly die in a matter of months. The average of those months is their life expectancy, but their lifespan is still a year. If you change nothing else, you might wanna change the word lifespan to life expectancy. It’s hard to tell the life expectancy of earlier time periods due to a lack of records. It does seem that people in ancient Greece and Rome regularly lived to be considerably older than Jesus though, as 33 was definitely not considered elderly at the time”
Back to gifts. For whatever reason, people in Penang (and Malaysia in general) like to receive gifts. I have office buddies, random friends, and church groups, all exchanging gifts during this season. I was tasked with finding a RM20 gift to exchange within my Connect group. My friends from the office told me “DAISO” was a source for good practical gifts. I like to go with gift cards—like a Starbucks RM20 card. But something more practical is a USB thumb drive, @ powerbank (what powerbank is RM20?), or a hydra Cable with USB-C, USB-A, mini-USB, and Lightning (for Apple) connectors.
Uglyluhan’s notes: Interestingly the Christmas tradition of gift-giving has its origins in the biblical story of the three wisemen who presented the baby Jesus with the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. These mysterious figures are mentioned only in Matthew as “magoi”, meaning a Zoroastrian priest (magus). They’re commonly referred to as kings, recalling the prophecy in Isaiah of kings bearing gold and frankincense. They’re traditionally depicted as numbering three, based simply on the number of gifts. Their origin “from the east” has been the topic of much speculation, but their identification as magi suggests Persia as the most probable. Modern interpretations have suggested more exotic locations further to the east, even tracing each king to a different country, but none can be substantiated. The ancient Persians also introduced another now ubiquitous western custom: the handshake.
Thank you for reading. If you like to follow my History Buff friend, he’s on Twitter (@uglyluhan).