Fellowship Number 14, Winter 2007
Cross alk Christmas Top Ten Songs As a youth, Christmas came as a high point between one summer holiday and the next. It was a welcome break after the long dark evenings, and cold wet mornings.
Inside this issue: Christmas Top Ten Songs
The Ultimate Stain Remover
Christmas can be more than just Mince Pies
‘Hidden Message’ WordSearch
Auf Wiedersehen, Wolfgang
An Bíobla Naofa - help wanted!
‘Open House’ - Every Monday
Among my fondest memories are the numerous carol-singing events, playing in school and church services, around homes and in other places. It wasn’t just that we got lots of time off classes to rehearse for the school carol service. I can still hear the school choir and orchestra resound with the powerful roar of the organ, as together they echoed the words of “Let the organ thunder, While the choir with peals of glee, Doth rend the air asunder” (Unto us a boy is born). Slade, Wizzard, John Lennon, Elvis, and many others also helped make Christmas a really special time of the year, even if we had to listen to Andy Williams on Christmas Day! There was something special and inspiring about Christmas—and there still is. However, when I actually listen to the words of some Christmas songs, I wonder how they ever became popular. Sometimes a good tune can carry bad lyrics. For me, the best songs need to have both good music and good words. What then would make it into my top ten list of favourite Christmas songs and carols? Of all the ‘Holiday Songs’, Slade’s fun-filled ‘Merry Christmas’ and Wizzard’s ‘I wish it could be Christmas every day’ stand the test of time. Christian female group ‘Point of Grace’ did a catchy version of ‘Jingle Bell Rock’ too. ‘Rudolf the red-nosed reindeer’ and ‘We wish you a merry Christmas’ keep appearing each year, but don’t get far up my list. ‘Jingle Bells’ is similar. Making no mention of Christmas,
it sounds like an a 19th century ad for a snowmobile (a one horse-power, opentopped, sleigh). There seems to be no end to others like ‘Winter Wonderland’ or ‘Let it Snow’. And Bing Crosby’s ‘White Christmas’ is a little before my time. ‘Mistletoe and wine’ by Cliff Richard ‘is essentially sentimental, but it got him a Christmas number one. John Lennon’s reflective but unrealistically optimistic ‘So this is Christmas’ doesn’t match up to Bob Geldof’s down-to-earth famine-relief song ‘Do they know it’s Christmas?’ I can identify with where Emerson, Lake and Palmer are coming from in their popular but cynical ‘I believe in Father Christmas’, yet I can still trust in Christ now. ‘Yuletide Songs’ celebrate the winter festival. ‘Deck the halls’ declares “Tis the season to be jolly”, but doesn’t give any reasons to be so. Nat King Cole’s sentimental ‘The Christmas Song’ is not much different, despite the great performance. Nor is ‘The Holly and the Ivy’, even if it has a sprinkling of Christian content. From the ‘Christian Songs’, including carols and classical music, Handel’s ‘Messiah’, is (Continued on page 2)
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right up there. First performed in Ireland, its lyrics of hope, joy, sorrow and praise are quotations straight from the Bible. The rousing ‘Hallelujah’ chorus is much more famous than its other beautiful arias.
“Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” Psalm 100v2
Well, here are my personal favourites, with both ‘Christian songs’ and ‘Holiday songs’.
1 Hark the Herald Angels sing 2 Messiah (Handel) 3 Immanuel (Michael Card) Carols are much more condensed, and by 4 Joy to the World 5 O Holy Night their very nature focus on the Christian message of hope and salvation. Some are 6 The First Noël banal and almost meaningless, such as ‘I 7 Do they know it’s Christmas? saw three ships’ and ‘Ding Dong! Merrily on 8 Merry Christmas (Slade) High’. Yet others are packed with weighty 9 I wish it could be Christmas every day 10 Jingle Bell Rock (Point of Grace) words, accompanied by stirring music. Charles Wesley's ‘Hark the Herald Angels I realise that the Christian celebration of sing’ (put to Felix Mendelssohn’s uplifting Christmas is not everyone’s preference. But music) is packed with meaning, and has by cherishing uplifting, soul-touching Christian been described as the ‘model carol.’ music at this time of year, our sights can be Wesley doesn’t romanticise about snow lifted beyond the horizon of our problems, to and bells. Instead, he praises God through almost glimpse eternity ahead. JD such grand themes as; a promise fulfilled, Christ’s birth, his humility, our sins forgiven, and the hope of new life for ever. Isaac Watts’ ‘Joy to the World’ similarly can inspire joy, praise and worship from even the most subdued Christian heart. ‘O Holy Night’ was the first piece of music ever to be broadcast on radio, on Christmas Eve 1906. Its various performances have been inspiring. There are great classic contemporary Christian songs too, such as Michael Card’s popular ‘Immanuel’.
Worthwhile Websites Here is a short selection of worthwhile websites to visit over the Christmas and New Year holidays. Irish Bible Institute—Biblical education and leadership development for the Irish church, based in Dublin: www.ibionline.ie Extensive text and audio resources, answering questions and addressing issues relating to faith and religion: www.bethinking.org Search for Bible passages or words in many languages: www.biblegateway.com Equipping and assisting Christians and their churches to respond to conflict biblically: www.peacemaker.net
Belfast Bible College, on the outskirts of Dunmurry, is renowned internationally, providing many and varied full-time, part-time and evening classes: www.belfastbiblecollege.com Thought for the day short daily reading: www.rbc.org/odb/odb.shtml Christianity Today provides thoughtful, biblical commentary on issues and news: www.christianitytoday.com Classic Christian writings available on the internet: www.ccel.org Answers to tough questions provides a variety of answers to commonly asked questions: www.rbc.org/bible_study/ answers_to_tough_questions/home.page
The Ultimate Stain Remover “Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” Active cleaning agent: Christ’s suffering on the cross in our place. Directions for use: Faith in Christ alone and a genuine turning to God. Results: Full and free forgiveness, and a fresh start before God. Warning: Do not use with other stain removers.
Have you ever had a terrible stain on clothes – one that seems as though it will never come out? You wash and scrub, but you can’t get rid of it until you use a powerful stain remover. God compares the stain of our sin to ‘crimson’ – a deep-red dye, virtually impossible to remove from clothing. Similarly, we cannot remove the effect of our sin in God’s eyes. No amount of covering it up, trying to reverse its impact by doing good, or denying it, will work. Yet, God tells us that no matter how deeply we have sinned, he is able to wipe it all away. He has provided the ultimate ‘stain-remover’. If we will only turn to him, genuinely committed to not repeat our sin. There is more than enough forgiveness in Christ’s atonement on the cross to wipe out even the worst and most heinous of sins. This might not seem fair. But that’s OK. Justice was fulfilled by Christ on the cross, so that grace and mercy can be given to everyone who will accept it. See: Isaiah 1:18, Eph. 2v8-9, Gal. 2v16, 6v14, Romans 3v20, Mark 3v28-29, John 3v16.
There are many variations to the Medieval mince pie, including: Top: Le petit pâté de Pézenas, France. Upper middle: American mince pie Lower middle: Australia’s ‘national dish’ — meat pie. Bottom: 256MB USB Mince Pie www.usbmincepies.co.uk
Christmas can be more than just Mince Pies What comes to mind when you think of a mince pie? A small pastry filled with moist dried fruit and spices, or a delicious savoury meat pie? Today our mince pies are sweet, but it wasn’t always the case. Mince pies, when they were first made, could have any variation of meat in them: mutton, ox, lamb tongue, liver, rabbit, hare, pigeon, partridge, pheasant… Fruit was added, and spices came to symbolise the gifts of the wise men to Jesus. Known as Christmas, Manger, or Crib Pye, they were large and rectangular with a hollow on top for a Christ Child pastry figure. However, celebrating Christmas and the eating of mince pies were banned in 1657, as essentially a pagan holiday that promoted gluttony and drunkenness. Pies were still made, secretly, disguised in different shapes. Over time the meat was replaced by fruit and it became much smaller, often with a ‘Christmas Star’ on top.
Various traditions and superstitions have come about regarding mince pies, such as eating one on each of the twelve nights of Christmas and stirring the mixture in the right direction to bring good luck, and children putting one out for Father Christmas! Likewise Christmas has become the blend of many traditions and influences. And somewhere in the midst of all of this is the story of Christ’s birth.
Some people choose not to celebrate Christ’s birth at Christmas. But for those who do, A recent poll by UKTV Gold voted the there is the joy of remembering God’s love— obsolete law banning eating mince pies on peace and reconciliation between God and Christmas Day as one of the most absurd of mankind, and that the promised Saviour was British laws. born. www.cgcf.net
‘Hidden Message’ WordSearch Find the words below in the puzzle. When all the words are found, the hidden message will be revealed from the unused letters.
Send your prayer requests online (anonymously and in confidence) at: www.cgcf.net
ANGELS AT NIGHT AWE BABY BETHLEHEM BORN CENSUS GOD GOODNEWS JOSEPH LORD MANGER MARY
NAZARETH PEACE PONDERED PRAISE ROMAN SHEPHERDS SHINED SIN STAR TAXES VIRGIN WISEMEN WORSHIP
R O M A N T B N B O R N D
D E U I L A H E E A S S A
D E S T B T T M C T W H W
E S R Y I H L E A N E E E
N U S E L O O S E I N P P
I S I E D A R I P G D H I
H N H H N N D W E H O E H
S E S G G M O J W T O R S
M C E E H T A P O R G D R
J L M A N G E R O S G S O
S S E S I A R P Y L E O W
T A X E S V I R G I N P D
N A Z A R E T H R A T S H
(See the Crosstalk page of the website for the completed WordSearch)
Auf Wiedersehen, Wolfgang During the summer, Wolfgang Maier moved on from Colin Glen Christian Fellowship. However, he has not left the area as he continues to visit and meet people regularly. Our prayer and best wishes go with him and his wife Carol.
An Bíobla Naofa - help wanted! Work is nearly complete in importing the text of the modern Irish language Bible ‘An Bíobla Naofa’ for use with Bible software program ‘The Online Bible’. Like the software, the Bible will be available as a free download on the internet, due to the generosity of the translator Fr. Pádraig Ó Fiannachta and the software developers. To coincide with this, the software program is also being translated into Irish. This will allow An Bíobla Naofa, and other Bible translations, to be viewed in the medium of Irish. While a working version is available, further work is still needed to complete it by translating the help & setup words/phrases. If you would like to volunteer to help complete this, even in a small way, contact John Duffy (see contact details below). For more information on ‘The Online Bible’ see: www.onlinebible.net or www.onlinebible.org
‘Open House’ - Every Monday We meet on Monday evenings for prayer, Bible study and fellowship with tea, coffee and a bite to eat. Join us as we look into the Bible to see what we can learn from it, and how it is relevant to our lives today. Everyone is welcome - just turn up, or ring for more details. Every Monday 7.30-9.30 pm (except July). We meet at 42A Cloona Park - Just off the Stewartstown Road roundabout.
John and Elaine Duffy Phone: (028) 90600323 42A Cloona Park, Upper Dunmurry Lane, Belfast, BT17 0HH email@example.com www.cgcf.net