It’s that time of year, again. When the world gets rushed and busy and people run from place to place looking for the best price on the perfect gift to make their credit stretch further and allow them to get deeper in debt with the greatest amount of material benefit in exchange therefore. Or at least that’s what it looks like from here. Yesterday we went to town to take care of some needed business, and the parking lots were overflowing and traffic backed up for blocks, reminding us why we hate to go to town this time of year. But it’s still “my favorite time of the year.”
“Why?” you might ask. Well, because it’s the time of the year in which those of us who remember “the reason for the season” celebrate the birth of Jesus the Christ. It’s a time in which we are brought to contemplate the majesty of a Creator Who cared enough for His creation to enter into that very same creation in the body of a helpless infant. This event is so momentous that it has split history in twain – a fact acknowledged even by those who attempt to replace “Ano Domini” and “Before Christ” with “Common Era” (CE) and “Before Common Era” (BCE). While shying away from “the religious implications” of the prior dating to avoid recognizing the importance of the event that spawned this division of history – they still use an abbreviation that can be used to restore the initial import of the division of time. After all, B.C.E. and C.E. can be used to represent “Before the Christian Era” and “Christian Era”. 😉 😀
There are many who claim to be followers of Jesus the Christ who decry the celebration of His birth. The common arguments include “No one KNOWS what day He was born on! The Bible certainly doesn’t tell us!” and “Christmas is a PAGAN holiday!” Well, let’s take a look at these two arguments in particular.
First, it is true that the Bible does not tell us what day of the year Jesus Who would come to be known as The Nazarene and The Messiah (the Christ, the Anointed One) was born – but it tells us clearly that He WAS born. Not only was He born, His birth was celebrated in ways unknown before or since. We see a multitude of angels singing in celebration. We see the magi trekking from the East, following a star to where it came to rest over the place where the Child was. This was a birth foretold by prophets hundreds of years prior to the event. And it was a birth that brought to us One Who would impact history like no one before or since. Even those who do not believe in His deity must acknowledge His impact on the world and culture if they are honest analysts of history. Only the most ardent adherents to ignorance claim that He never was a real person or that He taught in such a way as to “turn the world on end”.
Since we know that He WAS born, even though we may not know EXACTLY WHEN He was born, why not celebrate the event? If not on the now traditional date, what date would you propose? On a personal level, this is something of which our family has experience. My wife was a foundling, raised by an unknown woman for the first days/weeks of her life. She was then taken to an orphanage and adopted by those who eventually became my inlaws. A judge arbitrarily decreed that her birth date would be celebrated on a certain day of the year. The fact of the matter is – we have NO idea what day she was born. But we have irrefutable evidence that she WAS born. And this blessing is worth celebrating, so we do. Each year on the day decreed by the judge we celebrate the fact that the tiny child who would become my wife and the mother of our children was born. Why not celebrate the birth of our Redeemer as well? After all, He has blessed many millions more than it would ever be possible for my wife to bless.
My friend, Kirk Durston, wrote an article on the second argument – that Christmas is actually a pagan celebration. I encourage you to read his well thought out and presented article. Here I just want to point out that the date of the Nativity was settled among the followers of Jesus of Nazareth well before the pagan celebration that it was supposedly copied from was established. The traditional Day of Creation was long recognized as what today is the 25th of March. Rabbinic tradition had all the Patriarchs born on the same day, and thus conceived as well on the same day. March 25 plus 9 months gestation gives us December 25 as the date of the birth of the Messiah. Some early Christians held that January 6 was the day of the Nativity, a date still celebrated by the Orthodox Catholic church and recognized by the Roman Catholic church as the day on which the magi arrived.
For yours truly, it all comes back to – let us celebrate the birth of Jesus the Christ. Whether you follow Him or not you must till recognize that He taught as none other has done. If people would follow His teaching (rather than the dogmas that have split so many societies) then the world would be a far better place, a fact admitted even by some avowed atheists.