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Jesus’ Birthday January 2, 2007

Posted by amybeth in Deep.

Okay…I’m going backwards a little and posting something about Christmas after I’ve posted a Happy New Year’s message. But something’s been puzzling me that I thought I’d comment on.

I’ve struggled with Christmas because it seems like an artificially derived holiday, artificially imposed onto a pagan day either for the good motivation of providing a Christian substitute or for the more nefarious reason of covering up cultish celebrations. Beyond that, while there may have been a time when Christmas was a truly Christian season, the materialism of the Western world seems nearly complete in its takeover. Its difficult even for Christians desiring to make the holiday all about Jesus to avoid giving central place to the presents, food, and decoration rather than the birth of the Saviour. Even if materialism were somehow avoided, the majority of Christmas traditions seems suspiciously linked with pagan rituals.

I was all excited when I read a blog that had looked at historical data surrounding Zechariah and the birth of John the Baptist and Jesus and the meaning of several Hebrew words in the nativity story and concluded that it was very likely that Jesus was indeed born in December linked with the beginning of Hanukkah…the festival of lights simultaneously celebrating the ‘light of the world’ in addition to the battle it commemorates. However, I then came across another website that presented very convincing evidence that it would have been impossible for Jesus’ birth to have occurred in the winter season in Palestine due to impassible roads for travels and so on. They connected his birth with the Feast of Trumpets in the fall.

Needless to say I am confused. I recognize that we can never be 100% certain of the date. I also recognize that we could celebrate Jesus’ birth on a day other than his true birthday. However, I was hoping for something that would give value to the holiday and its many customs that would outweight the pagan connotations and materialistic overtures that threaten to drown out the ever fading sound of angels celebrating.

Does anyone have any thoughts? How do you maintain your focus on Christ in the midst of the hubbub? How do you justify participation in the myriad of traditions surrounding the holidays?  Do you even think about what they mean or are they just a part of being family and having good times?  I’m not saying thats a bad thing…its a very good thing.  But I’m looking to connect with something deeper…if thats possible.



1. Your wandering medical friend - January 6, 2007

Hmmm, just had an interesting discussion in small group about Christ’s birth and how it related to some scientific research and conjecture related to star gazing and how the Magi might have gotten to Bethlehem via star watching. Check out this book chapter on the web: askelm.com/star/star004.htm We may be closer to reality in celebrating December 25th than we realize…Perhaps in fact we are celebrating the date that the Magi came to bring gifts to Jesus several months after his birth…

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