By Paul Ravenhill
300 years after Jesus' death the church set December 25th as the day of commemoration and celebration of His birth.
Was Jesus born December 25th?... Possibly not!
Does the exact date matter? I don't think so! Some people have a problem with December 25th because it was the date of the heathen celebration of the mid-winter festival. As Studdert-Kennedy (to whom I am indebted for his notes which lay the basis for this writing) has pointed out, for the heathen it was based in a time of dread
(dread of the winter cold which had taken the life from the trees and plants and
touched the waters and the fields with frost,
dread of the darkness which had taken over a greater portion of every day,
dread of the scarcity the uncertainty, the unrelenting attack of winter) from this fear was born the custom of lighting fires and burning logs to "warm up the sun" lest he flicker out and die and never rise again.
"The instinct that made the early Christians keep the festival of Christ's birth upon midwinter day was the result of a very vivid experience. They felt that the coming of Christ into the world had been like the return of the sun, the winter of the world's soul was over and the spring had come. The contrast between the darkness before Him and the Light which He brought was to them a glaring and startling contrast because the memory of the darkness was still fresh..."
The early Christians chose this moment of the celebration of darkness and despair as the moment to celebrate the coming of Hope and Light. It seems they didn't appropriate the heathen festival but rather took that day of the celebration of maximum darkness to celebrate the annulment of the power of darkness and the birth of light.
Historically December 25th was probably not the date of Jesus' birth, but symbolically, in a spiritual sense, it most certainly was!
The day in the fullness of time
The day in the depth of earth's winter
The day when darkness covered the nations
When mankind had lost hope in the universe
The day when death seemed ready to swallow up all
This day became
The day of the dawning of the Light,
The beginning of the end of Darkness
The birth of the Salvation from eternal Night.
The day of overcoming of Despair and Hopelessness.
THE DAWNING OF THE SUN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS whose Light must shine more and more until the perfect day when
ALL Darkness is past,
All sin is vanquished
And the Light of Life, unfettered and unchallenged, fills all
"Christ that was born on Christmas
And those Hand's hold, though pierced with nails,
They hold on still in power and pain,
And they shall hold till Satan fails
And Love comes to His own to reign."
~ G. A. Studdert-Kennedy
Copyright © Paul Ravenhill 1997 - http://www.ravenhill.org/