We are getting closer to celebrating the birth of Christ on Christmas Day. Sometimes people wonder why we actually celebrate Christmas on that particular day. There are two theories.
The first has to do with the winter solstice, which was celebrated on Dec 25th in the ancient world. On this day, the Romans held a pagan feast to the unconquered Sun-God in which they acknowledged both the death of darkness – as the sun reaches its lowest point and the birth of the light - as each new day begins to get longer and longer. Everyone was encouraged to join in the feasting.
In 336 AD in Rome, the Christian’s first countered the pagan feasting with their own feast, for they had the true “light of the world,” as John so clearly declares in his Gospel (8:12). The light born on Dec 25 is not only the light of the sun, but the birth of the sun of righteousness, “who “shall rise with healing in his wings”, as Malachi so clearly proclaims (4:2). The great Christmas hymn by Charles Wesley “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” captures this in the third verse....
Hail, the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail, the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings,
Ris’n with healing in His wings (LH 33:3)
When Christ, the light of the world, is born in Bethlehem, so comes the end, for Christ who was born to die brings to completion Gods plan of salvation – with His death. This connection between the birth of the Christ and His death brings us to the second theory as to the date of Christmas, which we will talk about next week.
Christians should not worry that they have taken over the date on which a pagan festival was once celebrated because, 1 Timothy 4:5 tells us that “all things are made holy by the Word of God and prayer,” and that includes a day that was a feast to the “unconquered Sun-God”.