Means of Grace

  • Written by John Fesko

Should we celebrate Christmas?

Christmas Day, December 25th, was originally part of the Roman festival of Saturnalia where there were festivities, gift exchanges, special food, the Yule log, greenery and fir trees, and wassail. The festival of Saturnalia eventually culminated on December 25th, the birth of unconquered sun. By the late 4th century Christians, on the other hand, did not want to participate in these pagan festivities and decided to celebrate the birth of Christ, the Son of God, on the 25th. Later, the day became known as the day for the mass to celebrate the birth of Christ, hence Christ mass, or Christmas.

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  • Written by John Fesko

The Weight of Glory: Hymns or Praise Choruses?

Since the earliest days of the church the presence of music in worship has been a topic fraught with debate. Currently, there seems to be no abatement in the debate between hymns and praise choruses. There are those who argue that hymns are outdated, stodgy, and boring. This certainly seems to be the zeitgeist of most churches these days. Perusing church mailings one can find the following statements: "What do you look for in church music? You won't find pipe organs and massive choirs . . . but you will find a live band and contemporary music." Another church writes: "Our worship, music, video and lighting, will blow you away!" Churches typically advertise that they have "upbeat music," which, although not explicitly stated, implies that hymns are the antithesis - antiquated and arid anthems of a bygone era. Do most churches have it right? Are praise choruses, the staple of contemporary worship, superior to hymns?

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