December 25, 2006

Birthday of the Unconquered Son

Luke 2:13-14

No one really knows when Jesus Christ was born. Some say in the fall; others, in spring. What is known is that Christ was indeed born. Certain groups of people who are anti-theistic (I refuse to call them atheists because God doesn’t believe in atheists) like to point out Christmas is celebrated on a pagan holiday and that the Christians are really partici-pating in a cultish festival.

In 336 A.D., Christian leaders set the date of Christ’s birth to December 25th in an attempt to eclipse a popular pagan holiday in Rome known as Saturnalia, that celebrated Natalis Solis Invincti, or "Birthday of the Un-conquered Sun." It was, therefore, the day the Sun proved itself to be "unconquered" despite the shortening of daylight hours.Along with honoring the god Saturn, the use of the title Sol Invincti allowed several solar dieties to be worshipped collectively, including Elah-Gabal, a Syrian sun god; Sol, the god of Emperor Aurelian (AD 270-274); and Mithras, a soldiers' god of Persian origin.

So, Saturnalia was a time of general relaxation, feasting, merry-making, and a cessation of formal rules. There was drinking, gambling, and singing, and even public nudity. It was the "best of days," according to the poet Catullus.

While it may be true that no one on earth knows when exactly Christ was born, I encourage all of you who believe in Jesus Christ to hold this day holy because of He who made the heavens, the stars and all underneath it. Celebrate it because it was the advent of our salvation. It brought forth a Savior in a world too dark and too busy with itself to make room for Him on that special, holy night. His arrival brought great promise: peace to all the world. As Prince of Peace, Christ brought the only lasting peace—not with the world, but with God. Celebrate it because in Him there is hope, peace, love and redemption that were purchased with His blood.

During this Christmas season, remember that a young Jewish virgin woman cradled the biggest news of all: the birth of the Savior, who would become our Lord and Savior, whose birthday continues to be celebrated thousands of years later because of His redeeming work at the cross and because He conquered death.

That's the heart and soul of the Christmas message. Back then, there weren't many worshipers around the original manger; only a handful of shepherds. They were considered lowly because of their work. But, they were the first ones to see Christ. They saw and believed and humbled themselves before Him. Over two thousand years later, there are those who refuse to acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God. But one day every knee will bow before Him, and every tongue will confess He is Lord (Philippians 2:9-11). Those who doubt Him, those who are His enemies, those who merely ignore Him, all will one day bow, too, even if it be in judgment.

I pray that God grants you the life-changing spiritual experiences that only Christ can bring. I pray God gives you an ongoing attitude of joy, thankful-ness, and responsiveness that causes you to tell others that you, too, have seen Christ the Lord. And that He dwells in your heart. Truly, we celebrate the birthday of the Unconquered Son: Jesus Christ!

Jesus is the greatest gift you could share with anyone this season!
Spread the Good News and Merry Christmas!

No comments: