Is Christmas Even Christian Anymore?

Historians tell us that Jesus probably wasn’t born in December. Most likely, according to the descriptions in the gospel accounts, He was born in the spring, most likely in April.  How do we know this? Well, for one thing, the shepherds wouldn’t have been sleeping outside in December. They did that in the spring.

According to scholars, as the church moved into Europe and encountered the pagan winter celebrations, church leaders co-opted those holidays and made them about the birth of Christ. Many of the traditions of Christmas, such as the Christmas tree, are pagan symbols reinterpreted for the Christian experience.

The Death of Innocents

As I read the Christmas story again this morning, I came across Matthew’s story of Herod’s brutal decision to kill the babies in Bethlehem trying to kill Jesus.  Having the images in my head from the Newtown, CT shootings made the story more poignant, brutal and almost impossible to read.

Our world hasn’t changed much…

from Pharaoh’s edict to kill every Hebrew male child…

to Herod’s attack on the children in Bethlehem…

to the shootings in Connecticut…

To Know and Not Do

There’s an old saying that goes like this, “To know and not do is the same as not knowing.” I thought of this as I was rereading the Christmas story this past week. The wise men come to Jerusalem and ask if anyone knows where the Christ child is to be born and the religious scholars are called to see if there’s an answer. Yes, the scholars answer, the prophets say the child will be born in Bethlehem.  They even quote the exact Scriptural reference.

You know the rest of the story. The wise men leave Jerusalem and go to Bethlehem to find Jesus.  Now, here’s my question: Why didn’t the scholars go? You would think that when something this big was happening at least one of them would want to go to Bethlehem – if nothing else, just to check things out – but as far as we know, none of the scholars went.