Saturday, December 09, 2006

9th Day of Christmas - December 25th

I was going to save this one for the actual day of Christmas, December 25th, but based on recent conversations and the directions my thoughts have been going lately I've decided to tackle this one today.

The fact that December 25th (and actually the month of December) are not when Jesus was actually born has come up quite a bit this year for me. The pagan roots behind the original holiday celebrated this time of the year has also been a topic of discussion.

I've been wrestling with this for quite some time now. On one hand the origins are not Jesus originally, but on the other I believe the Lord looks at our hearts.

Let me start with some basic history (if you want more information you can do a search and find much much more information).

The Romans called December 25th Saturnalia, the birthday of the unconquering sun. An entire week was spent feasting and worshiping their gods. The last and biggest party was on December 25th to cap it all off.

Then in AD 313 the Roman emperor, Constantine became a follower of Jesus Christ. He was concerned regarding his people's worship of false gods and declared December 25th, the Feast of the Nativity. In the following years, this became known as "Christ-mass" and then eventually Christmas.

It has been pretty much determined that Jesus was not born on December 25th and probably not even in December. I've heard October and March given as likely dates. The Lord did not deem it important enough to give us the actual date, so in my eyes it is not that important either.

I know some have an issue with celebrating a holiday to worship our Lord on a day that was originally a pagan holiday and I can 100% understand that thinking. However, at the same time I believe the Lord looks at our hearts and does not want us to be too legalistic. He does not want us caught up in being so focused on 'the Law' so we lose focus on loving Him. There is a fine line between being a light to the world in a way that is not condescending to others and becoming too liberal to where you are part of the world.

This and many other things I still struggle with and waver back and forth on at times. I just keep praying and reading God's Word and asking that He reveal His will for me in these areas. Little by little He does so, since my mind could not handle everything He wants me to know all at once.

Here is one scripture I've come across recently regarding worshiping the Lord on what was once a pagan/dark holiday.

"Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" (Romans 12:21)

The explanation was that "we should not be surprised that something dark and evil could be transformed into a day characterized by radiant light, selfless giving, and sacrificial love. . . given the fact that it is around this date (Dec. 25th) that darkness prevails with they year's longest night and the sun begins its new cycle, it's a grand time to celebrate the birthday of the Son. Proclaiming and reclaiming December 25th gives an opportunity for God's light of truth to chase away the blackest of shadows, revealing the true 'Sun of Righteousness'" (The ADVENTure of Christmas by Lisa Whelchel)

(P.S. I know that December being the longest day of darkness is probably not true for those in the southern part of our globe where it is summer time, but this was written by someone over here in the States)

I'm not sure yet that I totally agree with this or just see it as a way to justify ourselves, but it is something to think about. For right now, I've decided this season is a time of celebrating love and family. I choose to do so by celebrating Christmas as a time to be with family and worship my Lord's birth into this world to save me. He gave the ultimate gift and shared the ultimate love. Regardless of the original intent of this time of year, that is where my heart is. God knows that. This is not to say things won't be different for me a few years down the road though.

So the bottom line is Jesus may not have originally been the 'Reason for the Season' but in my life He is!

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