Easter has come and gone once again. It is a time that probably affects the entire world. People are on the move—some for religious reasons, others for pleasure and relaxation. The concept of Easter being a contentious subject, and a prickly pear situation for many, has led me to write this article.

ROOTS

As what some of the months in our yearly calendar are named after pagan gods (e.g. January is named after the god Janus, and March after the god Mars) so also the days of the week have a pagan origin (e.g. Thursday is named after Thor, the god of thunder). In Afrikaans Thursday is known as “Donderdag” meaning “day of thunder”.

Similarly, we find that Easter was originally named after the goddess Eastre or Ostara. She was the goddess of dawn, spring and fertility. The presence of the rabbit or hare during Easter was attributed largely to the fact that they were prolific breeders. They could have a few litters in a year and became a symbol of fertility welcoming spring, the season of new life and abundance. It is also known that eggs have been considered to be symbols of new life and fertility through the ages. Many ancient cultures used eggs during their spring festivals.

“In ancient Anglo-Saxon myth, Ostara is the personification of the rising sun. In that capacity she is associated with the spring and is considered to be a fertility goddess. She is the friend of all children and to amuse them she changed her pet bird into a rabbit. This rabbit brought forth brightly colored eggs, which the goddess gave to the children as gifts. From her name and rites the festival of Easter is derived.” (Encyclopedia Mythica)

The following is an extract from an article written by Warwick Taylor on hot cross buns:

The custom of eating spiced buns on Good Friday is believed to have been introduced to England by the Romans, but the tradition can also be traced back to the Saxon goddess Eastre, after whom Easter was named. Special dishes, including a spiced bun, were prepared in her honour during the annual spring festival to ensure fertility and protection in the coming year. Similar spicy sweet breads decorated with a simple cross were baked in ancient Greece and Egypt, and used as religious offerings.

This ritual was later adopted by the Christian church and became a common practice of the Easter celebration in England. In Tudor times the sale of these buns was banned by law, except on Good Friday, at Christmas and at burials. The fact that they were generally sold hot led to the later incorporation of the word “hot” into the name.

It has been recorded that in the 12th century monks baked the buns and placed the cross on them as a symbol of the Christian faith. It was believed that hanging a hot cross bun in the house on Good Friday offered protection from bad luck in the coming year.

It is believed by many researchers that Eastre or Ostara goes by many names in different cultures and she is in fact the same goddess that is mentioned in the Bible as the Queen of Heaven. (Jeremiah 7:18) It is also believed that the hot cross buns we know today actually originate from the cakes of bread that were offered to her by the people of Judah when their hearts were turned from God.

SHOOTS

Through the centuries, during the month of April, Christians have been commemorating the death and burial of Jesus Christ on Good Friday and celebrating His resurrection on Easter Sunday. Added to this, the eating of hot cross buns, Easter eggs and chocolate bunnies form part of the festivities. It seems that with the passing of time we have developed a fruit salad of Christianity and Paganism. Is this all wrong? Should we celebrate Easter? Are we actually paying homage to Eastre when we eat hot cross buns, Easter eggs and chocolate bunnies? Should we change the names of the months and days of the week that are named after false gods? (In Korea the months are numbered and not named.) Where does one draw the line? There are many different schools of thought concerning this prickly matter.

What are my thoughts? Let me attempt to briefly expound without being long-winded or tedious:

Firstly, all the traditions and festivities mentioned above are what Jesus called “the rules taught by men” in Matthew 15:9. The problems came in when the people placed their traditions above God and his commands, and in the process disobeyed Him. They honoured Him with their lips but their hearts were far away.  I believe this is the crux of the matter. There will always be different cultures and traditions. As we participate in, and partake of these however, we need to ask ourselves how our involvement affects our relationship with Christ. Does it improve, hamper or actually have no effect on our relationship with Him.

I quote Romans 14:5, “One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.”

This indicates that what is right for one person is not necessarily right for another. The emphasis is on being fully persuaded in your mind that what you are doing is right for you, and that your action or belief is in no way impeding your relationship with God.

We read in Colossians 2:16-17 “Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality however, is found in Christ.”

Christ has come and has completed it all. His last words on the cross were, “it is finished.” Nothing more is therefore necessary for us to do except to follow Him in love and obedience in our daily lives. In fact the only celebration that Jesus encourages us to continue with till his return is the breaking of bread (1 Corinthians 11:23-26). However, this does by no means mean that you cannot, or may not participate in any other celebration or tradition. You are free in Him to make your own choices and no man has the authority to tell you otherwise. Therefore do as your heart compels you, for if Jesus Christ lives within you, He will guide you in all your ways and you will walk in His freedom.

FRUITS

As a child I experienced Easter as a time of hunting for painted eggs hidden away in our garden. It was fun but I never knew why I was doing it. I remember hot cross buns were bought before the Easter weekend but to my great disappointment we were only allowed to eat them on the Sunday. When I unhappily asked why, I was told because Christ had risen on the Sunday. That was the tradition in our house. I was never informed as to how everything fitted together, and I never understood what hot cross buns and painted eggs had to do with Jesus. It was only in adulthood after I had committed my life to Christ that I began to really question these things, and then discovered the truth and the origin of all these traditions.

We all know the saying “knowledge is power” and in Matthew15:6 Jesus said, “Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition.” If we mix the truth with our traditions and are unable to discern the difference or separate the two, we will not understand or walk in the fullness of God’s promises for us. As Christians who truly seek to walk in the freedom of Christ we need to know the truth, and it is our task to teach and inform our children because it is the truth that sets us free.

In conclusion therefore, regarding traditions similar to the ones mentioned above, my husband and I use the following guidelines, and it gives us peace:

  1. Understand the origin of the relevant tradition.
  2. Question whether your participation in that tradition would improve, hamper, or in fact have no effect on your relationship with Jesus Christ.
  3. After consideration of the above two aspects, decide whether it is really important enough for you to participate in that tradition.

 

And so I end off with the words of Jesus Christ. He said in John 14:6 “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

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If you enjoyed this article, please feel free to pass it along to your friends.

All that I ask is that you include the copyright and URL of my website.

© Lorna Kirstein

http://kirsteinonline.com

 

 

 

 

The Blind Man

 

He was a man like you and me,

But he was blind and could not see.

One day he heard the Lord come by,

And then it was he gave a cry.

 

“Oh Lord help me I want to see,

Blind I no longer wish to be.

Help me, oh Lord, I beg of Thee,

To see is what I ask of Thee.”

 

Jesus said, “Bring that man to me,”

And asked, “Why do you call on Me?”

The man said, “Lord I want to see,

For blind I can no longer be.”

 

Jesus said, “By the power in Me,

Oh blind man you shall surely see.”

And so the man received his sight,

And praised the Lord with all his might.

 

“The Lord healed me now I can see,

Praise Thee my Lord I do thank Thee.

Saviour and Lord forever be,

My sight is what You gave to me.”

 

This story is for you and me,

To know He died upon that tree.

He gave His life for all to be,

Saved from our sin eternally.

 

We too are blind and cannot see,

So let us seek Him earnestly.

He waits for us so patiently:

Give Him our hearts submissively.

 

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If you enjoyed this poem, please feel free to pass it along to your friends.

All that I ask is that you include the copyright and URL of my website.

© Lorna Kirstein

http://kirsteinonline.com

 

FREEDOM’S QUEST

 

Freedom is what the vast majority cry for

And what the liberating military vie for

It’s what the dictators primarily lie for

And what the oppressed silently die for

 

Freedom receives sociological definition

And reveals philosophical vision

It conceives theological exposition

And conceals political ambition

 

Freedom is by authors romantically portrayed

And by actors brilliantly displayed

By orators it’s poetically conveyed

And by believers religiously prayed

 

Freedom’s quest is fervently sought

And professed most zealously fought

Its best can never be eternally bought

But its rest is ever thankfully caught

 

(C) Emil Kirstein, April 2006

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If you enjoyed this article, please feel free to pass it along to your friends.

All that I ask is that you include the copyright and URL of my website.

© Emil Kirstein

(Author of Quest for Freedom)

http://kirsteinonline.com

 

Dear Diary: What a Weak Week

Monday:

Dear Diary,

We don’t live in the same house anymore. After reading in a newspaper that most accidents happen within a 20 km radius from home, we moved 21 km away.

Tuesday:

Dear Diary,

I’m sorry. I can’t give you my new address. The previous occupants took the numbers with them. They wanted to keep their old address!

Wednesday:

Dear Diary,

My wife was so excited about our new house that she locked the car keys in the car. It took her more than three hours to get me out the car! She couldn’t even phone for help as I had the phone.

Thursday:

Dear Diary,

Now that we know that most accidents happen within a 20 km radius from home, we’re seriously considering buying a motor-home and just keeping on driving!

Friday:

Dear Diary,

All our problems are over! The case is solved! We’re moving in with the kids in THEIR home, so all the accidents that happen within a 20 km radius from home will be THEIR problems. We’ll be safe!!!

Saturday:

Dear Diary,

Oh, dear! My son’s dog ate my dictionary, so I had to take the words right out of its mouth. My son just nonchalantly said it was an accident! I think we’ll have to move again.

Sunday:

Dear Diary,

We’re back in our old house. To effectively safeguard ourselves against most accidents that happen within a 20 km radius from home, we simply got rid of our GPS. So, now we don’t know where we are and neither do those pesky accidents!

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Please scroll down to view our accident free home.

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Keep on scrolling, you’re nearly there.

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You’re most welcome to stop by for a cup of tea when you’re in our vicinity.

___________________________________________________________

If you enjoyed this article, please feel free to pass it along to your friends.

All that I ask is that you include the copyright and URL of my website.

© Emil Kirstein

(Author of Quest for Freedom)

http://kirsteinonline.com

 

ODE TO THE ACCOUNTANT

You are the keeper of the BOOKS

My name is written in your LEDGER

In red you wrote a CHEQUE

Drawn on the love in Father’s BANK

You did not consider it too great an EXPENSE

To once for all pay my entire DEBT

To sin and death I had been SOLD

Tetelestai’ you wrote on my RECEIPT

It is finished—it is PAID IN FULL

The blood requisite PURCHASE PRICE

Without using a farthing in the PETTY CASH

None of my own works and hard earned INCOME

To life eternal I have been BOUGHT

Now I make daily entries in my JOURNAL

And nightly I settle my ACCOUNTS

Before I am even INVOICED

You grant me REMITTANCE

You continuously inspect my INVENTORY

And erase all errors—negligible or GROSS

Your mercy is not FOR SALE

It is freely obtained without any COST

Worthless you count my CAPITAL ACQUISITIONS

And useless you reckon my DEPOSITED FUNDS

Where none is deserved you give me CREDIT

As a pearl you hold me as your priceless ASSET

And as the apple of your eye I am APPRECIATED

You certify my growing NETT WORTH

And keep my mansion room in RESERVE

An inheritance I will never TRADE

I reflect you in all my STATEMENTS

But the world sees my commitment as a LIABILITY

And suggests wiles for INCREASED REVENUE

Wicked ways that will only lead to LOSS

Such as unscrupulous INVESTMENT SCHEMES

But your name soars my MARKET VALUE

In your eyes I will never DEPRECIATE

And by grace secure unseen PROFITS

While you set me free of burdens TAXING

I accumulate heavenly treasure and WEALTH

You issue me with everlasting EQUITY

And offer GUARANTEED DIVIDENDS

I eagerly await your imminent due RETURN

And the compiling of the closing BALANCE SHEET

When you will represent me at the final AUDIT

___________________________________________________________

If you enjoyed this article, please feel free to pass it along to your friends.

All that I ask is that you include the copyright and URL of my website.

© Emil Kirstein

(Author of Quest for Freedom)

http://kirsteinonline.com

PUNCTUATION

I was digging through some old emails the other day and discovered this precious snippet illustrating the importance of punctuation. I would love to give credit to the original source but unfortunately that genius is unknown to me. I adapted it somewhat, and so here it goes…

A grammar teacher handed a piece of unpunctuated text to her grammar students, told them that it was a letter, and instructed them to punctuate it correctly. Two completely different versions emerged as winners in that exercise.

VERSION 1:

Dear John,
I want a man who knows what love is all about. You are generous, kind, thoughtful. People who are not like you admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me for other men. I yearn for you. I have no feelings whatsoever when we’re apart. I can be forever happy—will you let me be yours?
Gloria

VERSION 2:

Dear John,
I want a man who knows what love is. All about you are generous, kind, thoughtful people, who are not like you. Admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me. For other men, I yearn. For you, I have no feelings whatsoever. When we’re apart, I can be forever happy. Will you let me be?
Yours,
Gloria

AND THE MORAL OF THE STORY?

Incorrect punctuation can get you into deep, deep doo-doo!

___________________________________________________________

If you enjoyed this article, please feel free to pass it along to your friends.

All that I ask is that you include the copyright and URL of my website.

© Emil Kirstein

(Author of Quest for Freedom)

http://kirsteinonline.com

THE WAITING ROOM

“Come, Penny! Come an’ sit here with Mommy.” Her gentle voice reached out across the waiting room to the little girl pushing the magazines around on the table. Some patients looked at the little girl playing with the magazines, whilst others briefly glanced at the petite mother before continuing to browse through their magazines.

The baldheaded old man who sat opposite the mother, frowned, glared at her and grunted, “Penny! Umph! What a name to burden the child with!”

All eyes were immediately focused on the grumpy old man. He surely got everybody’s attention. The mother looked rather bewildered and sheepishly responded with a soft, “What do you mean?”

The old man went into a coughing fit—a serious congested cough. Some patients put hankies in front of their mouths and noses—swine flu being the buzz word. Settling down after the coughing episode, the old man started his tirade, “Do you know what a penny’s worth? It’s absolutely worthless! Worthless, I tell you!

“In my day a penny had value, but today—it’s worthless, worthless. Do you know what the recession has done to my savings? The stock market has crashed and every penny I’ve saved over a lifetime has become worthless—worthless, I tell you. And inflation! Do you realize what inflation has done to my pension? Every time I go into a supermarket I get less stuff in my trolley for my weekly allowance. My money has become worthless! And then you name this little child, Penny! Do you realize that every time you call her, you’re calling her ‘Worthless!’ Shame on you!”

There was a stunned silence in the waiting room. All who had to cough suppressed it. All who had to sneeze kept it in. The atmosphere seemed more like that of a funeral parlor than a doctor’s waiting room. The silence was broken as the old man went into another coughing fit.

The petite mother was taken aback and her complexion swayed between shocked pale and embarrassed pink. Tears started to role from her eyes as she softly muttered, “Penny is short for Penelope.”

The old man discharged the second barrel of his double gauge barrage, “Penny—short for Penelope! Umph! Why didn’t you rather use ‘Elope’ as a short name. Then she would’ve been able to run away from this mess we’re all in, instead of being worthless in the middle of it!

“Woman, don’t you know the importance of a name? If your name’s ‘Stupid’ and everybody calls you by your name, you start responding to ‘Stupid’ and eventually you not only believe you’re ‘Stupid,’ but you actually start behaving ‘Stupid.’ And then finally, you simply are ‘Stupid!’ Do you understand what I’m saying? What’s your name, anyway? No, rather don’t tell me. By you calling your child ‘Worthless’ I can easily guess your name, personality and character.”

The receptionist interrupted the spectacle, and said, “Mr. Spike Thorne? The doctor is ready to see you now. You may go through.”

___________________________________________________________

If you enjoyed this article, please feel free to pass it along to your friends.

All that I ask is that you include the copyright and URL of my website.

© Emil Kirstein

(Author of Quest for Freedom)

http://kirsteinonline.com


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