can we talk?

>> Monday, December 28, 2009

at this point my camera is still missing in action. but i do promise to share our christmas pictures...soon!

while we wait, i'd like to ask a question. please know that i'm not trying to be controversial. the question is about Jesus and something i learned this year. i'm writing this to ask for your input. i do hope to write quite a bit about my journey of spirituality in the coming new year. but this post, again is a question that is on my mind, and i am having a hard time finding people willing to talk about this or explain it to me. i will admit that my journey of spirituality has led me down some non-traditional paths. but most importantly i do believe in Jesus and that he is the Savior who has saved a wretch even like me.

my absolute favorite day of the year is christmas eve. i absolutely love the feeling of magic and anticipation of that night. awaiting santa's arrival. and imagining the what it was like when Jesus was born. i go outside on christmas eve night and look into the sky seeing the brightest star which i imagine is the star of bethlehem. i imagine the three wisemen on their journey to meet this new child, our Savior.

it all plays beautifully in my head, until now, where the magical music is interrupted by a scratch from the record player. (you do remember those right?). i learned something this season that i didn't know and had never heard before in my 35 years. that Jesus possibly, probably, was not born on christmas. i don't remember where i first read about this but i did and in fact read it in several different places.

not wanting to believe this, i did a little online research and apparently it is true that many theologians believe that Jesus was likely not born on christmas but rather sometime in the spring. the church at the time apparently picked the date to correspond with the timing of the winter solstice. i have heard that many of our christian traditions are somewhat based on older pagan traditions. and that doesn't bother me at all.

but for some reason, the thought that Jesus was possibly not born on christmas does bother me. it's called "Christ" "mas" and how often have we heard "He is the reason for the season"...not too mention all of the beautiful christmas carols that sing of the birth of this child and give the impression of a wintery season. maybe this shouldn't trouble me at all, Jesus was born and we should celebrate that-of course. i will admit though that this past christmas eve, it was different for me. and i really was sad about this.

what do you believe? does this make anyone else sad? or should it not matter at all? looking forward to your thoughts about this.


Lysana December 28, 2009 at 4:18 PM  

I am sorry that this put a damper on your Christmas Eve this year!

I was also surprised when I learned a few years ago that Jesus was probably born at another time of the year, but that no one really knows for sure when, and admittedly a bit shocked to learn that the timing of Christmas was based on pagan celebrations. However, this knowledge has not taken anything away from Christmas for me. That's quite possibly because I'm more of a "roll with it" type of person (at least with things I know I can't change).

I don't think I really make a conscious decision that celebrating Christmas in December is "okay," regardless of when Jesus was actually born. I just learned about the timing, was concerned about it for a little while, and then...more or less forgot about it. If someone mentions it, I'll be all, "Oh, yeah, that's right," but it isn't at the forefront of my mind during the Christmas season. Like I said, if I can't change something, I tend not to keep worrying about it, but that is just the way I am. I suppose unconsciously I decided that the important thing is that Christ is honored in the celebration, regardless of when it takes place.

Does that make sense? Help at all? You will have to make your own decision about it, ultimately, but I hope that next year, you will be able to look up at the stars and imagine you're seeing the star that led the wise men to Bethlehem. That sounds like something that is very special for you, and I would be sad if you lost it.

tarzan December 28, 2009 at 4:37 PM  

Oh Heather, I'm sorry this is bothering you, but I do have a story to tell you and hopefully it will help.

I too used to feel sad about this, and then one day I met this kid.... You see, he was my son's neighbor. he lived next door in a "foster home". Being close to the same age, he and my grandson became very close friends.

He was at my son's house almost as much as he was at home, and one day he announced that it was his birthday! After learning this, and that his foster parents were not doing anything special for him, (no party, no gifts, no nothing), my daughter in law proceeded to bake him a cake, rustled up some gifts, and invited some other school friends over for an "on the spot" party. The child was delighted and a great time was had by all..... he announced later that it was the best birthday he'd ever in his whole life! He was like age 6 at the time.

Upon further investigation, my daughter in law learned that indeed the social worker's or the foster parents didn't know WHEN his REAL BIRTHDAY was.... His mother had abandoned him in a garbage dump as a small child with no note or anything. Those who found him gave him a name and "estimated" how old he was at the time he was found. Later they assigned him an estimated BIRTH DATE. He has no idea when his REAL birth date is.

I can tell you with no uncertainty that it doesn't matter. He is now a tall, strapping, good looking 17 year old, a good student, well liked by his peers, and just received his driver's license! Of course he could not produce a REAL birth certificate, but has the papers from the adoption agency that he ended up at with an "estimated date" printed on it.

He has since moved away from my son's neighborhood, but he still visits often and is still best friends with our grandson. He is now living in a good foster home and looking forward to his junior year in high school. He has gone on numerous trips and vacations with us and our families, and we have attended many of his birthday parties over the years that our family has had for him.

You see Heather, the REAL BIRTH DATE honestly doesn't matter! What if my son and daughter in law had walked away from this unwanted child who didn't know how old he was just because he didn't have a REAL birthday?

We celebrate Christ's life just because He is part of our lives, not because it's His birthday.... So He was REALLY born in the Spring?.....Who cares? HE WAS BORN! Hallelujah!

Just as the little neighbor boy came into our lives without a REAL birthday, doesn't make him any less important. A date was chosen to celebrate and that's all that matters..... HE is with us!

Michelle December 28, 2009 at 9:00 PM  

Heather...I think I can understand where you are coming from. I have wrestled with this a little myself, although different aspects of it. I am not personally bothered by the fact that Jesus was probably not born on December 25th, but I can understand how it could make the day seem less special.

For me, though, I just do my best to purpose in my heart to worship Him. But even during those moments, I try to remember that every day is an opportunity to celebrate Emmanuel (not to sound too cheesy but I'm just being real here)...

I did a little extra research, and came up with this article you might be interested to read.

Praying your Christmas can still be as magical, in spite of your new knowledge. I truly believe it can be.

Shana December 28, 2009 at 10:38 PM  

That is very interesting! I have never heard that & I have to admit, it's a let down. I guess it shouldn't matter, but it does a little bit. I was taught & am now teaching my children that Christmas is Jesus' birthday & that is why we celebrate. Why not just celebrate it in the Spring if that is truly when it is? I will be looking into this! Things that make you go hmm! Hope you find your camera SOON!

Craig December 29, 2009 at 3:23 PM  

My wife (who follows your blog as Lysana) recommended this post as being of particular interest to me, and indeed, it is a subject that is very close to my heart. I remember several years ago when I mentioned rather off-handedly that it isn't particularly likely that Jesus was born on December 25, and her stunned silence indicated that I might just as well have told an 8 year old that Santa Claus wasn't real. doesn't really matter. Whatever the mode of our celebrations and remembrances it is important to remember that if Christ Himself is at the center of our minds and hearts we will be "keeping Christmas" regardless of what holiday trappings come with the season. I LOVE Christmastime, by the way. I love all of it: The music, the lights, the trees, the gift-giving, the hope for snow. But most of all (and without this the rest would be meaningless) I love to remember that on that special night, whether it was in December or April or August, God came to be with us so that ultimately we could be with Him. And that is something worth celebrating, whenever, wherever and however you do it.

carebear December 30, 2009 at 1:45 PM  

Awe, thanks for the happy tears. I had LOTS of those yesterday. :) I appreciate you following my little guy's journey. :)
And FYI - I can't find my camera either...

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