The Pastor’s Piece – December 3, 2023

The Pastor’s Piece


December 3, 2023

At MCC, we love to celebrate the birth of our Savior – the Light of the world – with lights! The Christmas tree is up and decorated. I have heard through the grapevine that many of you have had your homes decorated since long before Thanksgiving. That’s ok with me if it’s ok with you. But at our house, we do not take our fall decorations down until Thanksgiving is over – at which time our Christmas decorations go up. (This year, there was snow on the pumpkins).

Here are some fun facts about the Christmas tree from

Germany is credited with starting the Christmas tree tradition – as we now know it. In the 16th century, sources record that devout Christians would bring decorated trees into their homes. It is a widely held belief that Martin Luther, the 16th-century Protestant reformer, first added lighted candles to a tree. According to a common version of the story, walking home one winter evening, Luther was awed by the stars twinkling amidst the evergreens. To recapture the scene for his family, he erected a tree in the main room and attached lighted candles to its branches.

However, in America, New England’s first Puritan leaders viewed Christmas celebrations as unholy. The pilgrim’s second governor, William Bradford, wrote that he tried hard to stamp out “pagan mockery” of the observance, penalizing any frivolity. In 1659, the General Court of Massachusetts enacted a law making any observance of December 25 a penal offense; people were fined for hanging decorations. That stern solemnity continued until the influx of German and Irish immigrants in the 19th century undermined the Puritan legacy. Thomas Edison’s assistants came up with the idea of electric lights for Christmas trees (of course they did). Tinsel used to be made with lead foil, but in the early 1970s the U.S. Food and Drug Administration convinced manufacturers to switch to plastic tinsel.

On another note … From what I understand, it’s flu and cold season. I was thinking about all the home remedies I’ve tried over the years – either by choice or otherwise. As a child, my mom loved Vicks Vaporub. Some people call it “vapo-rub” while others call it “vapor-rub”. (I know, it’s confusing). Mom would heat it up on our gas stove and when the vapors started rising, I would find myself standing over them with a towel over my head, inhaling the fumes. Nevermind, the fear of suffocation or the fire hazard involved. It was a procedure from which I’m pretty sure waterboarding originated from. The intention was to open up my airwaves. Another common practice was to rub Vicks on my chest at night, put a cloth on top of the rub, and wrap a towel around it so it would stay in place while I was sleeping. That worked pretty well I think, because the vapor fumes would rise up to my face all night while I was sleeping. But on the other hand, it could have been the Vicks that she rubbed in my nose. Since I’ve become an adult, I mostly stay away from that stuff. 

A few years back, a lady in our church gave me a home concoction she had made. I can’t remember everything that was in it, but I do remember it had black pepper, tea leaves, vinegar, lemon and orange slices, and a bunch of other spices. I was to heat them all up on the stove, soak them in a newspaper, and then put the hot newspaper on my chest. There must have been some added healing effect from the ink and paper because as I remember, those two ingredients were important. Somebody told me that elderberry syrup is good. And another said wild red cherry bark. If I recall, all those remedies may have helped, but who knows for sure? 

And on yet another note … My wife and I often have pieces of furniture that are no longer useful to us, but are still in really good shape and have a lot of use left in them. Rather than peddle them off for a few bucks, we find great joy in giving them away. The problem is – who do you give them to? So we began a little practice that we get quite a kick out of, and that is we put them out at the end of the driveway with a “FREE” sign attached. It could be an end table, a coffee table, a rocking chair, a lamp, or even little knick knacks. In most cases, the items disappear in less than 24 hours. When we put the items out, we have a contest to see who can predict how soon they will go. It’s the simple things in life that make it interesting. (It’s also fun to leave the quarter in the cart at Aldi’s when you’re done shopping).

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God,” (Matthew 5:8).

Come celebrate Christmas Eve with us on the 24th at 8:00 or 10:30 a.m. … Or come to our candlelight service at 4:00 p.m. Merry Christmas everyone! 

(Kevin Cernek is Lead Pastor of Martintown Community Church in Martintown, Wisconsin).