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Christmas Is a Pagan Holiday

Christmas Is a Pagan Holiday

Jesus was not born on December 25th. We actually have no certain record of the date of His birth. There was early speculation that perhaps Jesus would have been conceived in late March and He therefore would have been born in late December. Early celebrations of Jesus’ birth seemed to deliberately coincide with the winter solstice. Some think because Jesus was described as the “light of the world” (John 1:9), commemorating His birth around celebrations of the sun was fitting. Others say early Christians were appropriating pagan holidays and blending the birth of Jesus with non-Christian traditions to help gain popularity. If we do not know when Jesus was born and other holidays seem to collide with late December, why celebrate Christmas at this time of the year?

When is the sun setting right now in your part of the country? In my hometown in northern Vermont the sun goes down at 4:08pm. It only stays light for nine hours a day, the rest of the 24 hours is darkness. As we near the winter solstice, we will experience the darkest time of the year when the sun is the weakest and night seems to reign. I think this is the perfect time to welcome the coming of Christ.

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. – Isaiah 9:2

The short days and long nights serve as a powerful reminder that we all struggle with spiritual darkness. We all have areas of our lives where we feel overwhelmed and lost, where hope feels dim.

I have personally been feeling the darkness growing stronger in recent weeks. I am exhausted from work and all the activity throughout the fall. It seems that one friend after another is dealing with emotional pain, or conflict, or illness, or financial strain. Patterns of sin can suddenly grow stronger in response to seasonal stress and fatigue. The holidays are also a difficult time whenever our family dynamics are marked by rifts and loss. Struggles that are otherwise manageable become magnified at this time of year and are more demoralizing than ever. I am deeply aware of my own inability to restore myself and to fully be what my loved ones need.

It is quite fitting for me to feel this way during Advent as I wait for Jesus to be present. What better way to welcome a Savior than by knowing I am in desperate need of saving? As I am brought to the end of myself I am in a perfect posture to make room for Emmanuel to dwell with me. Wherever you feel overwhelmed and helpless in your life, press into that experience of neediness. In the words of Henri Nouwen,

Come, Lord Jesus, and be with me where I feel poorest. I trust that this is the place where you find your manger and bring your light.”

Late December may be the darkest time of the year, but it also marks the turning of the tide. Bit by bit the days will begin to grow longer and the night will be increasingly short. This is my favorite part about celebrating the birth of Christ on the 25th. Jesus comes to join His needy people and to turn the tides of evil and suffering. After the birth of the Messiah nothing will ever be the same. There is no force in the universe more powerful than the light of Jesus Christ. Because the Son of God has come, no power of night can prevail against us. Do not be afraid to acknowledge the darkness in your life. Let the early sun downs lead you to express your need for new light. Then rejoice at the birth of our Savior, the One who comes to shine hope into every dark place. Jesus has come, Jesus will come again.

There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever. – Revelation 22:5

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