This year my A to Z challenge is about Christmas, a major festival in the Christian Church. Another major festival is Easter, which I wrote about for the A to Z Challenge in 2020.
Christmas is a time when we commemorate the fulfilment of God’s promise that a child would be born to bring salvation. Isaiah 9:6-7
Although the Christmas story concentrates mainly on Jesus’ birth, many Christmas carols (songs) mention other events in his life. There is a wonderful prayer, which quotes from the letter to the Hebrews, speaking of Jesus as the author and perfecter of our faith. Some translations replace author with pioneer and perfecter with finisher. Hebrews 2:10
There would be no Christian faith without Jesus Christ, so that is why he is described as the author – the one who started it. Perfecter describes someone, who makes something perfect – in this case our faith.
The book of Hebrews also talks about the priesthood of Jesus. Although he didn’t serve as a priest in the temple in Jerusalem, the sacrifice of himself was a perfect offering made once and for all. Hebrews 4:14-5:10
Jesus is the only person who has ever been (and still is) perfect.
Songs of thankfulness and praise by Christopher Wordsworth is an Epiphany hymn, which reminds us of Christ’s priesthood and many more things that Christian’s believe about him.
While this year’s A to Z badges by Anjela Curtis honour the late Jeremy Hawkins, I hope that my posts about Christmas honour Jesus Christ, ‘who was and is and is to come’. Revelation 1:4
This year for the Blogging from A to Z in April Challenge I have chosen a single word for each letter of the alphabet. Each of these words is important in the Bible. I am including a story in each post. Links from biblical references go to Bible Gateway. Promise appears more than 150 times in the Bible. There may be more promises than that as a promise can be made without using the word. Swearing an oath is a way of making a very strong promise and a covenant is an agreement where both sides make promises.
God made promises to people throughout the Old Testament : Abraham and Sarah, Isaac, Joseph, Moses and more. Jesus Christ made promises which are recorded in the New Testament.
To jump to the story A promise fulfilledclick here.
When Joseph was about to die he reminded his family of God’s promise of a land for them to live in. Genesis 50:24
Joshua led the people into the land God had promised them. When he was about to die he reminded the people of God’s promises and the covenant, which required the people to obey God. Joshua 23:15
In King David’s psalm of praise when the Ark of the Covenant was installed in Jerusalem, he reminded God of his promises to him and his house. David asked him to bring them about so that God’s name would be great for ever. 2 Samuel 7:25 (Read more in my story for the letter N.)
God renewed the promise he had made to David, but this time with his son King Solomon, who was building the temple. 1 Kings 6:12
The psalmist reminded God of his promise: ‘Uphold me according to your promise, that I may live’ Psalm 119:116
The promise comes by faith. Abraham is the father of all believers Romans 4:16
The children of promise are regarded as Abraham’s offspring. Romans 9:8
It was strange after three years of travelling around with Jesus that he was no longer with us. The last few weeks had been a real roller-coaster. First there were Jesus’ arrest, trial and crucifixion. Then his resurrection, which should not really have surprised us after all he had said and done. After that we could never be sure when we’d see him, but we eleven disciples were all together when he took us out towards Bethany and ascended into heaven.
We obeyed his instructions to wait for the promised Strengthener. We wondered how we’d be able to recognise that He had arrived, but in the event there was no mistaking Him.
It was the Day of Pentecost, which we had always celebrated. It was an important festival. Crowds of people from outside Jerusalem had arrived to join in the worship. We had gathered together. Suddenly there was a sound like wind blowing strongly, but it was a calm day. Then we saw what looked like flames, which separated and came to rest on each of us. We opened our mouths to speak and found that we were able to speak in languages we had not learned. It was power from on high!
The people around us were confused. Some said we were drunk. Others heard us speaking about the wonders of God in their native languages.
Peter was always the first to speak or act. He stood up and spoke to the crowd.
First he rejected the claim that we were drunk. It was early in the morning. Then he started to quote passages of scripture. He began with the prophet Joel, speaking about everyone receiving God’s Spirit before prophesying and seeing visions. It was heady stuff.
He reminded them about Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and ascension, comparing him with King David, who remained in his tomb.
He went so far as to tell the people that they had been responsible for Jesus’ death. Many repented.
By the power of the Spirit over three thousand people believed the good news that day.
Image in sidebar or below post links to Theme reveal
Palm Sunday really comes at the beginning of the Easter story. Jesus and his disciples travelled to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. (Letter J, Letter D and Letter B) They arrived on a Sunday and were greeted by an excited crowd of people. Jesus was riding a donkey, which had never been ridden before. The crowd took off their cloaks or tore down branches of palm trees to spread on the road in front of him. They chanted, ‘Hosanna to the King of David!’ Matthew 2:11-17 Thus the people acknowledged him as the Messiah. (Letter M) Peter was one of Jesus’ disciples. Later in the Easter story, on the Thursday he promised that he would be loyal to Jesus. Jesus predicted that Peter would not. Matthew 26:31-35 Jesus’ predictions were fulfilled, but Peter was sorry and went on to spread the Good News (Gospel) about Jesus in a powerful way. (Letter G)
Pontius Pilate was the Roman governor in Jerusalem at the time. The priests took Jesus to him after his arrest. Pontius Pilate tried him and could not find anything wrong. However to please the crowds, he sentenced him to death by crucifixion. Matthew 27:1-2 and Matthew 27:11-26
In the creeds (statements of belief) spoken by Christians during services, Pontius Pilate is remembered. ‘He was crucified under Pontius Pilate.’ (Letter C and Letter D)