Tablecloths for Everyday

Tomorrow is the second Monday of October, and here in Canada that means Thanksgiving. We will be driving up to spend the afternoon and early evening with my daughter and her family, but today — Sunday — our condo is filled with the aroma of turkey, stuffing, and apple pie.

Dave and I always cook a full turkey dinner on Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving. It gives us a festive meal, turkey pot pies, a couple of casseroles, soup, and sandwiches for Dave to take for lunches. It also gives us a chance to package up complete turkey dinners (including dessert) to share with neighbours who are alone and unable to risk being exposed to Covid.

But I digress…

Even though it will be just the two of us for dinner, I decided to use place our harvest centrepiece on our best white tablecloth. And then I thought, why not use it every day? Our condo doesn’t have an eat-in kitchen, so we eat at the dining table with placemats and napkins. It is no extra work to wash a tablecloth than it is placemats, but what a special feeling it brings to every day meals, even breakfast!

Right now I am feeling like my grandmother, and proud of it! Are tablecloths old fashioned? Perhaps, but so am I!

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Garden Tomb

When St Helena uncovered the True Cross in Jerusalem, she also identified what she believed was to be the location of Calvary, and a tomb nearby was identified as being the one Joseph of Arimathea donated for Jesus’ burial.

But there is another spot that makes more sense. It is located close to the alternative spot for Golgotha. Today, it is visited by Christians who believe it is the tomb of Jesus, and who refer to it as “The Garden Tomb.” It was first discovered in 1867, and excavated in 1891. In 1970 Dame Kathleen Kenyon, the famous British archaeologist, said that  “It is a typical tomb of about the first century AD.”

In identifying the tomb of Jesus, we will turn to the Gospels of John, Matthew and Luke:

  • The tomb was near the place of crucifixion. (John 19:42)
  • It was in a garden. (John 19: 41)
  • It was carved out of the solid bedrock of a cliff. (Matthew 27:60)
  • It was a rich man’s tomb. (v. 57)
  • The disciples could look into the tomb from outside. (John 20:5).
  • There was standing room for a number of persons. (Luke 24:1-4)
  • It was a new tomb. (John 19:41)
  • The tomb was closed by rolling a great stone over the entrance. (Matthew 27:60)

The Holy Sepulchre site is located west of where the city wall was situated in the time of  Jesus. Because of the prevailing winds, no tombs were allowed within 25 metres of the city limits. Therefore Joseph of Arimathea would have not carved a tomb for himself there. Helena’s discovery has no evidence of a garden, nor having a stone rolled in front of it.  The Garden Tomb has all this, and more:

  • The tomb is the size that only a rich man could have afforded.
  • It was located in a garden, as proven by the discovery of a water cistern.
  • Upon entering the tomb there was a room large enough to hold several mourners.
  • By stooping and looking in, it is possible to see the spot which has been cut out for its sole occupant.
  • There was a spot for the owner of the tomb, and for another person. Only one section had been cut out, and it has been enlarged to fit a man taller than the man for whom the tomb had been measured.
  • A trench in front of the tomb indicates a stone rolled in front of its entrance.

But there’s more! You remember that the stone was ordered sealed by Pilate to prevent Jesus’ body from being taken by the disciples. In the cliff face there are two holes  that show that a very large seal-stone was once used to seal this tomb by two iron shafts being driven into the rock. To reopen the tomb, the shaft on the left would be removed and the stone rolled away for them entrance.

The shaft on the right has been removed, but the hole remains. The shaft on the right is still there, sheared off level with the wall. It would take a force of 60-80 tons to shear an iron shaft of this diameter. Matthew 8:2-4 tells us it was an angel who moved the stone. The metal was tested and found to be consistent with that used in Roman construction. Furthermore, it was shown to contain both iron and lead. It was common in ancient times to set metal pins in molten lead to make them easier to drive into solid objects.

The gap between these holes shows the stone was larger than the diameter of any other such seal-stone found in Israel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is a great stone at a monument to Moses at Mount Nebo that is believed to have been the one that sealed the tomb of Jesus.

  • The stone is the perfect thickness to fit in the garden tomb’s frontal trough.
  • The stone is the perfect diameter as shown by the location of the holes in the face of the cliff.
  • The stone is the carved from the same rock as the garden tomb, and has the same surface texture.
  • The stone has matching chiseling marks as found at the garden tomb.
  • The stone is the same colour as the garden tomb rock.

The there is no way we will ever be able to prove or disprove, but consider this: the Garden Tomb originally had a Byzantine Church on its location – the location of the great stone is also at a Byzantine-era church.  The Byzantines  believed that any holy relic was invested with heavenly power. In John 3:14 Jesus makes a prophesy which connects Mount Nebo where the stone remains to the place were Jesus was resurrected from: “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.”

Where was Golgotha?

DISCLAIMER:  This post reflects my own views, which of course will never be proven or disproven. But at the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter where Jesus was crucified. What really matters is that He DID die for us.

St Helena erected the Church of the Holy Sepulchre to mark the spot of the crucifixion and burial of Jesus. She based her assumptions on the oral tradition of an elderly man by the name of Judah. He told her of how Hadrian had Calvary levelled the holy spot and built a temple  to the Roman goddess Venus.

Helena and her travelling companion, the historian Eusebius, ordered the temple to be torn down, and tradition says that she found three crosses buried in the rubble beneath it. Although crosses were reused as soon as the bodies were removed from them, it is very likely that the cross of Jesus was removed and buried to prevent his followers from claiming it. Credibility is given to the discovery, since  Helena also found the sign that was nailed to the top of the cross, and mentioned in the Gospels: “Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek” (John 19:20)

Helena also found the evidence of the land being levelled to build the temple, and she found a tomb nearby. There is much to lend credibility to this being the location of the crucifixion and burial, as the location of the city walls during that day were further south than today, so it was indeed outside the city, as according to customs and mentioned in the Gospels: “And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood (Hebrews 13:12). In addition, the tomb dates back to the time of Jesus.

This was to be the consensus for over 1000 years…

We will never know for sure, but I join many others in believing that she may have misidentified the location.

The name “Golgotha” is derived from the Aramaic word gulgulta. Matthew 27:33 and Mark 15:22 give its meaning as “place of the skull.” When Saint Jerome translated these verses into Latin, he used the Latin word for skull, calvaria, which was later converted into the English word Calvary. There is no foundation for the common belief that the crucifixion took place on top of a hill.  All four Gospels say they took Jesus “to a place.”

Two hundred meters from the Damascus Gate, literally just across the street, there is a cliff containing caves that very clearly show the face of a skull. It is commonly referred to as the “Gordon’s Calvary,”  after the British general Charles Gordon who visited Jerusalem in 1882 and was intrigued by it.

 

This spot is located on the northernmost part of the mount called Moriah in the Bible. This was where Abraham brought Isaac as a sacrifice (Genesis 22),  a symbolic prophecy of the sacrifice of Christ to come. The site was later purchased by David and used by Solomon to construct his temple at the midpoint on the north-south line of the hill. Significantly, sacrificial animals, whose deaths also symbolized that of Christ, were slain to the north of the temple altar, as in Leviticus 1:11.  This location would place the crucifixion  on the northernmost part of the hill where that altar was situated.

Golgotha is separated from the main body of Mount Moriah by a chasm created by an ancient rock quarry. The skull face on the cliff was cut away by the quarry, so it is a crucial fact that the quarry predates Christ.

Immediately to the west of the southern cliff stands Damascus Gate, where Herodian stonework is found, along with remnants of a  gateway and towers. This proves that Golgotha was—as the Gospels state—not far outside the city walls near the gate. It was also situated beside the main northern road—an ideal place for a public execution because of the numerous passersby, who, in the New Testament story, mocked Christ as he hung on the cross (Mathew 27:39)

Nearby, again in accordance to the Gospels, is a garden and a tomb, that shall be the topic of my next post…

 

 

Getting Organized for Christmas

  • Do you find the approaching holidays are causing you stress?
  • Are your Christmas decorations, schedule and clutter a main part of this stress?

Take a deep breath and start with the items on this list… they are designed to give you the illusion of order, which will create the serenity you need to tackle the rest!

BEFORE CHRISTMAS

As soon as you put up the Christmas tree begin to pull gifts from their hiding places, wrap them, and let them be part of the decor.

Take away some of your decorative items and store them in the Christmas decoration boxes. That way, you will have less clutter during the holidays.

Finish your shopping early so you won’t have to deal with the shopping mall parking lots. Buy your turkey and put it in the freezer. The same with your holiday baking. And streamline the gift-giving that gets out of hand — after all, Baby Jesus only got three gifts.

DURING THE HOLIDAYS

Pick a date and decide that as of then you will be “as ready as you’ll ever be.” The most important things will be done by then. You are only one person and no one wants you to be frazzled.

Take a look at the decorations still in the box. There’s a reason you didn’t put them up. If they’re broken, throw them out. If they no longer fit your decorating scheme, or if you have no room for them, pass them along to someone who can use them.

Make room for the new gifts and teach your children a valuable lesson at the same time. Have them go through their toys, clothes, and books with you; let them choose ones that they have outgrown or no longer want. Help them donate items that are still in good condition to less fortunate children.

AFTER NEW YEAR’S

Put away your decorations with next year in mind. It may seem a long way off, but you’ll be glad you took the time to sort, detangle, and arrange things in their boxes.

Be sure your decorations are well protected. Invest in plastic totes that are waterproof. They are available in red and green so you can identify them at a glance next year.

Assign an empty box to hide gifts you purchase throughout the year.

As you think to next year, consider non-clutter and consumable gifts. Gift cards, theatre tickets, wine, tea, chocolate…

The Truth about Easter

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A week after Easter, I am still seeing references to a supposedly pagan origin related to Ishtar and I want to set the record straight.

The Burney Relief, also called Queen of the Night Relief is currently housed in the British Museum in London. It originates from southern Iraq and is nearly 4,000 years old. Ishtar was the Goddess of love,war, fertility and sex. Her symbols were the lion, the gate and the eight-pointed star, not the bunny or the egg, as many are trying to point out.

The only languages in which the name for this holiday sounds like “Easter” are English and German; in most other languages it comes from the Greek word Pascha, which comes from the Hebrew Pesach, meaning Passover. Ishtar is pronounced “Ish-tar”, not “Eas-ter.”

Constantine didn’t “change Easter.” He did, however have a role in deciding when it would be celebrated each year. Easter and the holidays that are related to it are moveable feasts, in that they do not fall on a fixed date in the Gregorian or Julian calendars (both of which follow the cycle of the sun and the seasons). Instead, the date for Easter is determined on a lunisolar calendar similar to the Hebrew calendar. The First Council of Nicaea (325) established the date of Easter as the first Sunday after the full moon (the Paschal Full Moon) following the March equinox.

Some claim that Jesus’ resurrection was celebrated to coincide with fertility festivals which occurred then. The truth is, the resurrection coincided with the time of the Passover. They early church in the east celebrated it at the same time as Jewish Passover. The western church started celebrating it the Sunday of the first full moon after this, and so it would never be celebrated on the vernal equinox.

The Christians of Mesopotamia made a practice of dying eggs red in memory of the blood shed by Christ when he died on the cross. In other words, eggs dyed red were symbolic of the Crucifixion, not the Resurrection. In later traditions the egg is also a symbol of the empty tomb.

The “Easter Bunny” is first mentioned in a writing by French doctor and botanist Georg Franck von Frankenau titled About Easter Eggs in 1682. Later in the 1800′s, German immigrants brought the tradition of hiding eggs for the children to the United States. The story was that the bunnies were responsible for hiding the eggs. It was just a fun thing to do with the children, not some pagan sex and fertility rite.