Sunday is Christmas Eve. Our kids and son-in-law hopefully will be home. The holiday, if all goes right, will flow by like Christmases past. Of course things will certainly have changed since my first Christmas long ago. Christmas could be called “fake news”.
Christmas is a glorious tradition of a compromise. For example: we borrow the day from the Druids, who celebrated the sun starting its journey north, we bring a German Pagan tree into our houses. The feast day is from the Roman Feast of Saturnalia, which began on Dec. 17 and ran until Dec. 23. There is also the yule log, which is a tradition from the old Norse countries (Norway, Sweden and Finland). Christmas wreaths come from Greece and Rome.
Looking through the Bible, the Nativity story is only found in the Gospel of Luke, which was perhaps written by Luke, a physician, who also might have written both the book Acts. Yet this is speculation. The theory is that whoever wrote the books was an extremely educated man who was able to write in Greek.
There are arguments that the original Christmas took place in Nazareth not Bethlehem and that Mary “knew” Joseph before they were married. Indeed that the star of Bethlehem did not exist but it may have been a simple conjunction of the planets Jupiter and Saturn, which happened about 7 B.C. or if that is not to your liking, take the conjunction of the planets Mars, Jupiter and Saturn which happened in February of 6 B.C. No one really knows.
The historical case of Jesus of Nazareth is not very complex. He was born and raised in a poor working class family. He probably had brothers and sisters, one of whom, James, became the leader of the Christian sect after the death of Jesus. Jesus spent the greatest part of his life as a carpenter or day laborer. He worked in the city of Sepphori, three miles north-northwest of Nazareth, most of his life before leaving there when he was 30 or so to start his brief three-year ministry.
His death by crucifixion is historically accurate, but the appearance before Pontius Pilot is probably not. People may hate to admit it, but his execution was historically of little consequence. He was guilty of sedition against Rome, which brought an automatic death sentence. Rome did not tolerate people plotting against it.
Until the Jewish people revolted against the Roman Empire in 63 A.D., Jesus was not thought of much or remembered. But when the Jewish people were crushed by the Roman Legions in 70 A.D. and were scattered to the winds, they needed to start over. Then Paul, a Roman citizen, came down the road to Damascus. The rest is history and whatever you choose to believe.
I defer to the great theologian Linus Van Pelt when Charlie Brown cries in anguish, “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?”
Linus replies, “I do, Charlie Brown” and speaks these words “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, ‘Fear not for behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.”
“And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.’ That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.” Christianity is simple. We have made it complex.
Be it fake news or not from our house in Lake Hallie to your house wherever you are, a very merry Christmas and God bless us everyone.