Monday, December 21, 2009
The Day of His Birth
The Bible does not give the actual date of our Lord's birth in either the Gospels or the Epistles. In the Old Testament scriptures, such as Isaiah, his coming is foretold. The Gospels tell us shepherds were in the fields and there was a star in the east, that magi from Persia saw and followed. These men were not kings, but men who studied the stars. Their journey did not take days, but it is clear by the gospel account that it took a long time, and that when they arrived their found the 'child' in the 'house'. This word for 'child' in Aramaic means a child that is a toddler, not an infant.
So how did we arrive at the date of December 25? It was celebrated as the winter solstice and rebirth of the Sun by the Romans. The earliest reference to celebrating Christmas is found in an illuminated manuscript dated 354 AD. In the 4th century, the Pope and Roman Catholic leaders set the date at December 25 to offset the pagan feast day.
Recently, PBS aired a documentary on the Magi. It was extremely interesting. Scholars have studied the star of Bethlehem, and by 'turning back the clock' through the years, they were able to come up with a theory as to the time of our Messiah's birth. There are two school of thought, as far as I can surmise. In the heavens that night Jupiter, the King star representative of the birth of a king, was in the constellation of Virgo - the Virgin. Thus the date these scholars have come up with is September, in the Jewish month of Tisre, during the Feast of Tabernacles, near or on the Day of Atonement. The other theory is that he was born in April during Passover, that his star was in the constellation of Aries which represented Israel. (Note: This information is based on astronomy, not astrology.)
In my family, we know December 25 is not the actual date of Jesus' birth. So, we celebrate it as a day of remembrance that he came into the world to save us from our sins, and a day for family to gather and express our love and devotion to each other.
Blessings to you throughout the Holidays.
Posted by Rita Gerlach at 9:19 AM