Finding and raising cane: The origins of the candy cane

Okay, so it's not a stupendous theological question, but still: Just where did candy canes come from? Like all 'traditions', various versions of the history behind the striped Christmas treats exist. Some wax theological, others more practical.
One on the side of practicality holds that in about 1670, the choirmaster at Cologne Cathedral grew frustrated by fidgety kids in his church's living Nativity. He had some white, sugar-candy sticks made to keep the youngsters quiet. The sticks were curved like shepherds' staffs in honour of the shepherds at the stable. The idea caught on, and candy sticks became common at living Nativities all over Europe.

In 1847, a German-Swedish immigrant named August Imgard put candy canes on his Christmas tree in Wooster, Ohio. The sweets gained popularity here, too, and around the turn of the century, they assumed their now familiar properties of red stripes and peppermint flavoring. Though these elements might have been added for symbolic purposes, there's scant solid evidence to confirm that theory.
(Read the whole story here.)

Why and when did Christians start constructing special buildings for worship?

Back in the first century, Christians, or followers of ‘the Way’, met primarily in private homes, such as the house of Mary, mother of Mark (Acts 12:12). As Christians began to organize, they depended on supporters for financing, and for those with larger homes to open them up as places for worship and fellowship.

 As numbers continued to grow, larger public spaces served as gathering places, such as the outer court of the temple (Acts 2:46). Yet even with all these various sites, Christians had the sense of being one church.

Not until the end of the third century do we have archaeological evidence of halls being built specifically for church meetings.  The great era of church buildings began with Constantine's patronage of the church in the fourth century. He commissioned basilicas to signal his support of the new religion, plus, of course, to advertise his reign.

As the church continued to grow and blossom, it needed to accommodate joint assemblies and multiple reasons for gathering. Special functions, such as daily Bible teaching, baptisms, and the distribution of gifts to the poor, required readily available facilities. Special buildings also gave the church a visible sign of permanence.

[Based on an article in Christianity Today by Everett Ferguson, professor of church history emeritus at Abilene Christian University]

'Proverbs 31 husband' justifies beer habit

Jack Crocker, a beer-loving machinist and "part-time Christian," finally agreed to read Proverbs with wife Reanna. He's glad he did.

"I'm a Proverbs 31 husband all right," says Jack, then quotes Proverbs 31:6-7: "Give beer to those who are perishing, wine to those who are in anguish; let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more."

"That's my permission to crack open a cold one," Jack says, having a Coors after dinner. But Reanna, a new church member, is pushing Jack hard to stop drinking. She insists he is neither "perishing" nor "in anguish." But Jack researched the Bible on the Internet and found 2 Corinthians 4:16 and 5:2 which say, "Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day," and "Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling."

"Everyone is perishing and in anguish," Jack says. "Until we're delivered from these bodies, the Bible says to drink up."

As part of the escalating family tension he created a "Proverbs 31" category on their weekly budget and listed "beer" under it. He also wants to start a Proverbs 31 Men's Group with his buddies.

"We're trying to find where the Bible talks about buffalo wings," he says.

(courtesy of LarkNews, great humour site)

We’ll miss you, Florence!

Florence Webb, long-time friend and parishioner of St. George’s, proceeded peacefully onto her eternal home Sept. 2, 87 years young.

Besides all her friends, she leaves behind her dear daughter (and faithful St. Georger) Joyce Bain and family; other children Jim, Gordon, Lynn and Larry and their families; as well as step-children Jean and Donna.

Florence’s siblings Wilson, Donna, Douglas, Diane, William and Lynda; her grandchildren Jeff, Derek, Chad, Greg, Lianne, Teressa, Jessica, Elisa, Timothy and Andy; her 13 great-grandchildren, and her many nieces and nephews will all miss her desperately, too.

Loving and giving radically

In the wonderful story The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry, Jim and Della Dillingham lived modestly, with only two possessions between them they really treasured. Jim owned a gold watch that had been in his family for two generations. Della‘s beautiful cascading brown hair almost touched her knees and could have been a coat by itself.

The couple wanted to exchange Christmas presents but were short of funds. Della hoped to give Jim a chain to put his watch on, and Jim wished to give Della a set of combs to put in her hair. In the end, Della sold her hair to buy a watch-chain, and Jim pawned his watch to get the set of combs. Della and Jim, wisely or unwisely, sacrificed for each other their greatest treasures.

Although Jim and Della are now left with gifts that neither one can use, they realize how far they are willing to go to show their love for each other, and how priceless their love really is.

The story ends with the narrator comparing the pair's mutually sacrificial gifts of love with those of the biblical magi. The magi, as you know, were wise men—wonderfully wise men—who brought gifts for new-born Jesus in the manger. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents.