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.
Well, here we are at one of the most difficult letters in the A to Z challenge. It is almost impossible not to cheat for X. In an earlier challenge I cheated by using X to represent the Greek letter Chi, Χ. Chi is the first letter of the Greek word Xristos.
This time I am using a word beginning with EX as well as an abbreviated form of Christmas. Xmas is another way of writing Christmas. The X represents the Greek letter Chi. It is an shortened form of Christ.
Excitement is definitely part of Xmas. Children who hang up a stocking for Santa Claus (or Father Christmas) to fill are often too excited to sleep at first. Then they wake early in the morning eager to discover what has been stuffed into their stockings.
Was Mary excited when she heard the news from the angel that she was to be the mother of the Messiah? She must have experienced many emotions. The shepherds were probably excited when they found the baby just as the angels had said. The magi (or wise men) are the subject of a wonderful poem, Journey of the Magi by TS Eliot. The feelings he describes them having do not include excitement.
I am sure there was rejoicing in heaven when the saviour of the world was born in Bethlehem. That is not much different from excitement.
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.
Xenophobia means the fear of strangers. The word does not appear in the Bible. Letter X is always tricky!
In the history of God’s chosen people, they were often strangers themselves, travelling to the Promised Land, exiled or travelling for various reasons. (Letter I and Letter P)
The well-known story of Joseph is set in a time when there was a famine. A later story from the time when Judges ruled begins with a famine.
Naomi and her husband Elimelech lived in Bethlehem with their two sons, Mahlon and Kilion.
Because of the famine, Elimelech and his family went to a country the other side of the Dead Sea – Moab. They settled there, but Elimelech died leaving Naomi with her two sons. Life was very hard for widows in those days. Naomi’s sons married local girls, Orpah and Ruth. After about ten years of living abroad, Mahlon and Kilion also died.
Naomi received word that the Lord had provided food for the people in her original home. She and her daughters-in-law prepared to go to Bethlehem. They all set off together, but Naomi began to wonder what would be in store for her daughters-in-law as foreigners in a place they did not know.
She told them to return to their own mothers and prayed that they would find new husbands. Both Orpah and Ruth declared that they would stay with Naomi, but she argued with them, spelling out the difficulties they would face. Orpah was convinced and returned home, but Ruth promised to stay with Naomi. ‘Where you go I will go. Your God will be my God.’
They continued on their journey until they arrived at Bethlehem as the barley harvest was beginning. Some of the people in Bethlehem recognised Naomi after all this time. She told them not to call her Naomi (which means pleasant), but Mara (bitter). She blamed God for the change in her circumstances. (Letter N mentions the meaning of names.)
Ruth as a foreigner had the right to glean in the fields, picking up the grain the harvesters had missed. She went out to a field and began to glean. It was a field belonging to one of the relatives of her late father-in-law – a well-to-do man named Boaz. He protected and helped her while she was working in his field even leaving sheaves for her to collect.
Another part of the Law set out that a widow should be married to a close kinsman of her husband and any children would be considered to be from her first marriage.
Boaz was not the closest relative, but acted according to the custom of the time to ascertain that the closer relative did not wish to carry out his duty as a redeemer-kinsman.
Ruth and Boaz were married and Naomi was blessed with a grandson, Obed. Obed grew up and became the father of Jesse, whose youngest son became King David.
Boaz, Obed, Jesse and David all were ancestors of Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus. Thus Jesus was from the House of David. Interestingly Boaz’s mother was Rahab from Jericho. She had helped Joshua’s spies.
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X is always a difficult letter in the A to Z Challenge. I am stretching the rules a little by taking an EX word for my letter X.
The explanation of the Easter story is a beautiful cameo in the whole series of events.
On Resurrection Sunday (Letter R) two disciples were really disillusioned by everything that had happened in Jerusalem. They had hoped that Jesus was the Messiah (Letter M), but he had been killed. They had had enough and set off to walk the seven miles home.
On the way a stranger joined them and asked them why they were sad. They told him about Jesus and how he had been killed. The stranger explained how everything that had happened was foretold by the prophets. When they reached their home in Emmaus they invited him to stay. As he broke the bread they recognised him as Jesus – risen from the dead! Luke 24:13-35
This passage from the Bible was the Gospel reading for Sunday. (26th April)
Do click the link above to learn what happened next!