Saturday, November 24, 2012

Christmas, the Temple Holiday

Christmas as a Temple Holiday

Three rooms of the temple.  Incense altar, veil, strait and narrow gate, tree-lamp, table of bread, the rock, throne-chariot of God.  Worship of the Shalems is entry (Matthew 5-7, Genesis 14, Exodus 24, Psalms 23, Isaiah 40), covenant making, instruction in prayer and fasting, being led forward by a priest, the Lord-Melchizedek descends, feast of bread and wine followed by the song of JOY (1 Nephi 8:12, Job 38:7, Isaiah 12), worshipper is dressed by the Lord, meeting the Lord at the veil, entry into the Holy of Holies.  “PEACE” or “WORSHIP OF THE PEACEABLE ONES” is the name of the ordinance (Leviticus 7:11), and the Prince of Peace is the Lord who descends to officiate at the feast and dressing (Isaiah 9:6, Alma 13:18, Abraham 1:2).  Holy of Holies is a place of vision (1 Nephi 1, 1 Nephi 8, Isaiah 6, Ezekiel 1-2, Daniel 7, John 1 “come and see”). 
The New Testament Nativity narratives are full of the images of this temple worship.
Wise Men (Matthew 2:1-12)
Temple door faces east.  To come FROM THE EAST is to enter into the temple and ascend within it.  Stars and angels are both priests within the temple.  To FOLLOW A STAR is to be led within the temple by a priest (this is the scene of John 1, where John the Baptist leads his disciples forward and introduces Christ).  Magoi are themselves priests of some kind, in particular Persian astrologer-priests who interpret dreams.  The dream-interpreter and temple visionary Daniel was in charge of Babyon’s Magoi (Daniel 2:48).  GOLD covered all the temple furnishings, and the entire Holy of Holies (1 Kings 7); FRANKINCENSE topped the shewbread (Leviticus 24); MYRRH is in the anointing oil (Exodus 30).  The Lord who descended was THE KING (Melchizedek = king of righteousness) who was WORSHIPPED.  In 1 Kings 7, the rooms of the temple are “houses” – in the HOUSE, they FELL DOWN (compare with 1 Nephi 8:30).  BETHLEHEM = house of bread, and the second room of the temple was where worshippers ate the bread of the Lord.  The wise men experience JOY.  A DREAM (vision) warns them.
Shepherds (Luke 2:4-20)
BETHLEHEM again.  Mother DRESSES Jesus; “swaddling” clothes don’t necessarily mean “baby” clothes, they just mean loose clothes you wrap around someone (compare Job 38:9).  Jesus is laid in a phatne, which can mean a “stall,” but is also a “feed trough” (Isaiah 1:3 “crib”) – Jesus is dressed and that makes him FOOD (compare Isaiah 4:1, where the woman provides bread and clothing so that the man can be someone whose name can be taken by others).  SHEPHERDS are also priests (Psalms 23), and so are ANGELS.  These shepherds are faithfully watching their flock, so the shepherds in the field are faithful temple priests being taught by another priest within the temple, priests who waited for the Lord recognizing his arrival (story is the same as Matthew 2 and also John 1).  The babe is a SIGN (semeion), just like the Virgin and her children would be signs (semeia; Isaiah 8:18).  Angel-stars (and shepherds) SING in the temple (Isaiah 6:3, 1 Nephi 1:8-10), which is JOY, the song of the Lord’s coming (Isaiah 12).  PEACE on earth is the arrival of the Peaceable King, the Prince of Peace (Genesis 14, Isaiah 9). 
The folklore and practices of Christmas are also saturated with half-remembered temple images.
Extra-Scriptural Christmas Traditions
TREE OF LIGHT is the temple tree (Exodus 25, 1 Nephi 8).  CANDY CANES are the rod/staff of the Melchizedek priest (Psalms 23, 110, 1 Nephi 8).  GIFTS are the gifts of the magi, gifts brought to the altar (Matthew 5 = tithing of Genesis 14:20, Malachi 3:8-10), and the gifts you receive from the Lord (Matthew 7).  SINGING makes us part of the choir of angels, announcing the arrival of the Lord.  DECEMBER 25 is just after the moment of greatest darkness, and the return of the light (the winter solstice) = opening of the veil and the appearance of the Lord (John 1:5, Isaiah 9:2).  SANTA / FATHER CHRISTMAS is a dressed priestly figure who enters through the light of the house (John 8:12).  He lives at the top of the world and descends through the air to meet us, assisted by elves (1 Nephi 1:8-10) and riding in a SLEIGH (a chariot, like the throne of God in Ezekiel 1:4-28), pulled by eight REINDEER (the four cherubim in Ezekiel 1 have beast features and multiple faces).  JINGLE BELLS are the timbrels used in temple worship (Exodus 15:20, Psalms 149:3).

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