Our Schedule:

Teaching English and Art together, putting on the GospelCafé concerts, prayer, meeting with our new French friends. It's a good life!

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Thursday, January 3, 2013

King Obama in a Manger and a French Christmas

We hope you are looking forward to a wonderful year. We are. I wanted to share French Christmas traditions and what our team does over the holidays.  I'll get to the Obama manger story soon enough.

     Paris is a place for lights and Christmas is no different with special Christmas lights in historical settings and holiday displays. Christmas markets are all around with ice skating rinks and snow villages. The markets are open from the 3rd week in November until New Year's Eve. Christmas day they all have a day of rest. There is even a Christmas market at Disneyland which is in the far NW corner of Paris west of the Charles de Gaulle airport. The markets are taken from an Alsatian tradition in Germany so there will be Alsation gifts and other creative crafts which are truly unique.

     It's a time of wonderful events to share the Good News to those unfamiliar or for those who love great music, fellowship, sharing the wonderful story of Christ's birth and great food (just like us in America). This is a busy time for our team.

     Parisians are familiar with great music, art and food. Meru, our church plant up north, offered a wonderful concert from a professional Christian singer. Christmas Carols were sung in December one evening at our newly formed Gospel Cafe right across from the Palace of Versailles. Many French are curious how Americans or other expats celebrate NoëlThis is the name for "Christmas" in French. Natalis, for noël, means birth in Latin. The more developed church plants have music, share about Jesus' birth and the history surrounding this time, and there's always great food just like we would do at our home churches but with French songs and French food. If someone would come into our home we would share our personal Christmas traditions. They are very interested in that. This would be a time to invite our neighbors. Some of our team is from Australia and Germany besides American and French. Each have unique ways to celebrate the Lord's birth.

     You may see manger scenes and some areas of Europe have craftsmans who've carved figurines of local dignitaries to be part of manger scenes! go figure. In some areas where our team sold manger scenes for a small fee and giving away Bibles the person running the sale in their area said we couldn't have religious objects like Bibles because it was a secular event. Really? They must not have thought a manger scene was a religious object. People were buying them and I know it was annoying for our teammates that they had to take the Bibles off the table. It shows you how secularism has affected many people.  I just read an article that there are even an Obama and Romney Italian carved wooden figurines to put in your manger scene. Now Romney has tears streaming down his face and Obama wears a crown! 

     The church bells do ring on Christmas Eve at midnight and worship services are available at the churches which are still open. Some will come out for these events where they may never enter a church any other time. 

     Also on Christmas Eve, the children leave their shoes by the fireplace (if they have one), to be filled with sweets, fruits, nuts and given small toys by Pére Noël or even may believe the gifts come from the Christ Child (le petit Jesus - pronounced zhayzu). Some gifts are hung on a tree (outside).

     In Paris they have a Three Kings Cake and they may make one for their children. A bean is hidden inside the cake. Whoever finds the bean is the queen or king for a day.

     The Christmas tree has not been very popular and even though the yule log has faded, a chocolate yule log cake called " bûche de noël" is a favorite. I am glad the French love chocolate! We do too. 

     Russell and I celebrated a French Christmas with some of our French friends in Olathe, KS. There are two French couples now who are members of our home church and this is the second year they have invited many French/Francophiles to attend this wonderful event. The bûche de noël was there. Very yummy! They talked about the significance of Christmas and we all get to share in music, stories, food and small gifts for the children. It gave us a time to speak with these folks and many we got to meet 2 years ago came back again.


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