Father Christmas

2017-12-30T18:55:27+00:00

Christmas often gets associated with Father Christmas, or Santa Claus, the bearer of good gifts.

The season of Christmas is particularly busy for department stores and shops as a big part of the yearly sale happens in the weeks leading up to Christmas. And indeed on Christmas eve and on the Christmas day itself during the the family celebrations gifts get exchanged while great food is eaten.

Father Christmas goes back to the Greek Nicolaus of Myra who was born in the 3rd century. He was originally a very wealthy man. During terribly difficult times he became a fervent Christian who gave all his possessions to the poor. He died on December 6. So in Switzerland traditionally on December 6 Saint Nicolaus turned up and gave gifts to children. But that keeps changing…

Nowadays in the US and many other places Santa Claus pops up with a pack of reindeers and a horse sledge. Also in Switzerland Father Christmas suddenly seems to be around during the whole Christmas season. The commercialised version of Santa Claus keeps pushing the original meaning of Christmas into the background.

So what is the meaning of Christmas? It’s not about commerce but about the greatest gift possible – the birth of Christ.

Father Christmas 2017-12-30T18:55:27+00:00

500 Years Reformation

2017-12-14T09:30:59+00:00

500 years ago, in 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 thesis on the door of the church in Wittenberg, Germany. Later this was recognised as the official start of the Reformation.

There were quite a few other reformers that had strong impact on the young movement such as Calvin, Zwingli, Bullinger, Farel and others.

By the 16th century the Catholic Church had become quite corrupt. Church offices and titles as well as the forgiveness of sins could be purchased by money. Church traditions had accumulated and caused the simple gospel of the early church to fall into the background.

Luther himself was originally a monk within the Catholic church. He advocated the 5 solas (sola – in Latin means „alone“). Here just two solas:

– sola scriptura („Scripture alone“) – go back to the Bible and use the original writings to evaluate how to live a Christian faith
– sola gratia („grace alone“) – people’s sins are forgiven through Jesus Christ and this by grace alone. It is a free gift since Christ redeemed any believer by his own sacrificial death.

In the picture we see the „Fountain of Moses“ in Bern. The fountain is located in front of the Cathedral (the Münster) with the figure of Moses on top. It dates back to the 16th century and has a strong reformation message.

Moses points to the number 2 out of 10 (in Roman letters). God gave Moses the 10 commandments for the people of Israel. The 2nd commandment states: „You shall not make yourself a carved image…. and worship it“ (Ex 20:4-6) or simply put: don’t worship idols. The 2nd commandment was criticising the many statues of saints in the catholic churches, that the believers would pray to.

In the beginning the Catholic church leadership was offended and threatened by these radical ideas and the church split into two: reformed and catholic. Later the Catholic church also incorporated some reformation ideas and got rid of some excesses.

This year (2017) the reformation has been remembered in Germany and Switzerland. It is widely recognised that both churches, reformed and catholic face many problems and that both are in need of another renewal.

500 Years Reformation 2017-12-14T09:30:59+00:00