In one book of the Narnia series, The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe, the White Witch puts a spell on Narnia and made it “always winter but never Christmas” for a hundred years. It’s hard to imagine going a year without Christmas. Though Christmas may have pagan origins, for Christians all over the world, December 25 has become the most celebrated religious holiday of the year, an opportunity for Christians everywhere to announce the humble advent of the incarnate Messiah to this earth: Immanuel, the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.
Sadly, Christmas for many people has been downgraded virtually to an annual shopping spree, licensed indulgence. Still, I am happy as a Christian to have at least one Christmas and profit from the additional opportunities we have to make Christ known.
For many years the Orthodox churches, Greek Orthodox, Eastern Orthodox and Russian Orthodox, used the Julian calendar, which had the celebration of Christmas on January 7. When the Julian calendar was revised, the date of Christmas fell on December 25, like the Gregorian calendar. Many Orthodox churches, primarily the Eastern and Russian churches, continued to use the old (non-revised) Julian calendar. This brought some confusion. During a recent interview, a Moldova young person said that most young Moldovans celebrate Christmas on December 25 and the older Moldovans on January 7. The Moldovans have a tradition of celebrating the New Year from December 31 until January 7, so the holiday celebration is drawn out into January. I read another article stating that many Protestant Christians in these Eastern European countries, and even Christians within the Orthodox Church, celebrate a “family” Christmas on December 25 and then a religious Christmas on January 7, which incidentally is the origin of the song “The 12 days of Christmas.” How would you like to have two Christmases in one year?
Russian Pastor Anatolii Alipichiv
with his family
Praise International supports and facilitates numerous native pastors in Eastern Europe: 27 Russian pastors, 6 Romanian pastors and 4 pastors in Moldova. In these countries where the people are devastated by corruption and poverty, pastors, who are solely devoted to the spread of the gospel, often cannot provide sufficiently for their families. Through Praise International, Christians in North America can sponsor one of these pastors for only $35 a month. This gift, quite insignificant for those of us living in the West, is a very generous provision for these pastors, allowing them to substancially feed their families, etc., and focus more time and energy upon their vital ministries for the Lord. If you would like to sponsor a pastor in Eastern Europe, there is a waiting list of pastors who need your help. Please contact me. Your gift will permit evangelical pastors to proclaim the good news: it’s not always winter; there IS a Christmas; and that Christmas is the celebration of Christ’s coming and His gracious provision of forgiveness and salvation to all who believe.