Origins & beliefs
Christianity was founded in what is today modern day Israel and Palestine around 2000 years ago.
It is based on the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, known as Christ ( “the anointed one”) the Son of God.
Christians see themselves as following in the way of Jesus who revealed the forgiving love of God for all people and God’s concern for human beings.
Christians believe that the world was created by God and will be brought to its fulfilment at the end of time. In the mean time they believe in the presence and support of God’s spirit among all.
The Christian holy book is called the Bible and is in two parts. The first equates roughly to the Jewish Bible has been called the Old Testament. The second is the New Testament which contains the Gospels (records of Jesus’ life and his teachings), the Acts of the Apostles, the writings of St. Paul and some other works.
At the centre of Christian belief is Jesus who is regarded as the revelation of God - for many understood to be the very incarnation of God. He is regarded as the one who has transformed human nature so that it need no longer follow its sinful inclinations but rather lead a life of love and service.
The experience of God in Jesus has led Christians to see God as a community of three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, called the Trinity.
Customs & worship
Customs and practice:
Individuals are admitted into the Christian Church through baptism which can take place in childhood or adulthood.
The central ritual of much Christian worship is Holy Communion or Eucharist which is a sharing of bread and wine in memory of Jesus’ last supper with his disciples.
This action unites Christians in a symbolic or sacramental way with the death and resurrection of Jesus and one another. It can also act as a recommitment to follow in the path set out by Jesus’ life and example. Private prayer and meditation is important to Christians in their daily life.
Places of worship:
The Christian holy day takes place on a Sunday when congregations gather in churches to worship and celebrate Holy Communion.
In the Catholic tradition this takes place weekly and even daily while in some Protestant churches it takes place on a monthly basis or even annually.
Important dates in the Christian Calendar include:
- Christmas - the celebration of Jesus’ birth (25 December)
- Easter - commemorating the death (on Good Friday) and resurrection (on Easter Sunday) of Jesus (usually around the end of March or beginning of April)
- Lent - the forty days before Easter common for many Christians to make some form of self-sacrifice during this time, such as fasting or going without something for this period
- Pentecost - celebrating the coming of God’s Spirit (thought of as the birth of the Church) is also an important festival
Food and diet:
In Christianity, all is seen as a gift of God. This means that no food is seen as unclean but everything is to be enjoyed in moderation and gratitude. Fasting on particular days and at particular times of the year is also common.
Concerns of the community:
Christians are concerned about working for the values of God’s kingdom on Earth: justice, peace and reconciliation.
They are concerned for justice for all people and so are involved with justice, peace and development issues. Working together with others for the common good of the nation and the world is important for them.