Determining the birth date for the baby Jesus is impossible. The Bible does not provide a date for his birth. As the life of Jesus unfolded, revealing him to be a person of astonishing talents. Defying governments, and religious officials, healing the sick, and even returning life to the dead. His murder by the Jews and Romans. Most astonishing his own return to life. Which he said was symbolic to the experience most humans would encounter. But like Himself, they would never taste a second death. Because, they too, would be resurrected to life.
For reasons unknown, his followers never marked his birth date. One would have thought, that they would have wanted to commemorate his birth for all posterity. The birth of such an unusual man.
Just as remarkable, nor did any contemporary historians of His time date His birth.
So why the twenty fifth of December? Was there something special about that day? Yes! many think that our celebration of his birth on the twenty fifth is associated with the celebration of the Roman Saturnalia. It was a Roman festival held in late December to honor the God Saturn. The festival was celebrated by merry making of large banquets and the exchange of gifts. Some think that this celebration lasted up to a week. Saturn being associated with darkness and death. The darkness of Saturn was behind the Romans now with the solstice moving towards greater light. Saturnalia was really a celebration of the unconquered sun. Darkness and death would always give way to light and life. It did not matter, if it was associated with farming or human life. Light and life prevailed!
By now, the early Christians were being vigorously persecuted by the Romans. Christians picked the twenty fifth because they could easily celebrate the birth of Christ with great festivity, and not be noticed because of Saturnalia. It was easy for Christians to blend in and celebrate the movement of the sun from darkness to light. Of course they celebrated the advent of Christ as the Son of righteousness with all of its associated meanings.
It is thought today that concept of festivity and gift giving among Christians had its roots in that Roman celebration. That is not entirely true. In those days it cost something to be a Christian. Costs like prosecutions, torture, imprisonment, and executions. Executions resulting from your head being removed from the rest of your body. Torture by being placed in the gelatin. With the executioner making sure that the neck was properly placed on the cutting block. Wondering if the cutting blade would gracefully makes its descent without jamming. If it did jam, the executioner would just host the blade back up and try again.
All because the condemned, of that time, professed Christ as Savior and Lord. Savior because they recognized their state of sin. Lord because they renounced their sin, and bore the cause of Christ.
No fashionable clothes or fancy buildings called mega churches today. Because as many as ten thousand may gather at any one time to be entertained. Fine musicals, and talented orators keep the flock faithful. Free from prosecutors and persecutions because of their belief in Christ.
It took a while, but the civil authorities finally wised up. They knew they could not defeat these committed Christians. They knew these Christians would succeed in turning their world up side down and inside out. so they legalized Christianity and today we have a wimpy church.
Rome had made it a crime to be a Christian. Christ was murdered because he violated both civil and religious law. Even in Christ’s time the civil authorities feared Jesus. Today we have a church neither feared or respected my millions. They found no reason to murder him. So they turned him over to the Jews, who did. But the guilt is equally shared by the Romans because they controlled the legal system. And the Romans, could have prevented His murder.
Today we Christians could be the controlling authority, if we wanted it bad enough. Thus preventing paganism from sweeping the country. Hell bent on secularizing America. And, once accomplished enacting laws criminalizing any public observances of the Christ of Christmas.
This what the civil authorities learned. Recognize religion by giving it a prominent place in society. Example! Internal Revenue Service allowing tax credits for money donated to churches. Bingo! Now the IRS has a tracking mechanism identifying Christians. For that to occur churches have to secure a c 501 (c) (4) status with the IRS. Bingo! Now the IRS has that same mechanism to identify every clergy person in America. With that recognition comes two results. First, the government has a mechanisms for the control of the people. Their old nemesis the Christians. Last, but not least in importance, the state has rendered Christians an useless threat to civil rule. Making the state top dog in the religious hierarchy. Step outside of government boundaries and your put out of business. With persecutions and prosecutions. Which is really a tragic history, for the church which started around the third century. With the decades turning into centuries with each new century making the church a duty bound servant to the government.
Another tragedy is banging at the door of the church! It is the Muslim community, who will never accept Christianity as having a vital role in their own world. That is what the conflict in the Middle East really boils down to. Turkey, a Muslim state not allowed membership in the Christian European Union. Added to the heap an even greater danger, ISSI. Islam is obsessed with a disease diagnosed as jihad. It is beginning to spread through out the United States. Unless this germ is destroyed, it will render all resemblances of meaningful Christianity to the death of ashes.
In order for there to be any regional peace Christian countries are going to have to abdicate all business as usual in Middle Eastern countries. Get out is the mantra there! Islamists make it impossible for Christians survived there let alone practice Christianity there. That is the goal wherever Muslims are in the majority. And they will succeed despite being told differently by the United States. The most hated government in the world by Muslims. Except for Israel. Think not! That this not the ultimate Islamic goal for Christianity in America.
This object lesson, Americans need to put people in congress, who will pass laws, to get rid of the Muslim presence in the United States. Based upon Paul’s advice to all the churches in Galatia. Paul asked? Nevertheless what does the Scriptures say? “Cast out the bondwoman and her son, (Ishmael), for the bondwoman and her son shall not be heir with the son of the free-woman, (Issac), ” Galatians 4:30; Genesis 21:10. Why? Because, “Now we, brethren, as Isaac are the children of promise. But he, who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the spirit, even so it is now,” Galatians 4:29.
Since we do not know the exact date for the birth of Christ this sheds a little light on how Christmas became so commercialized and neutralized. We Christians need to move away from the darkness of Saturn to the light of the Son. Failure to do so may once again see Christians celebrating the birth of Christ in the shadows of yet one, or another oppressor their government or Islam.