“For unto us a child is born. Unto us a son is given . . . . And his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9;6)
(Click on Handle’s Messiah to enjoy the music)
A question that’s been around for some time now is: “Was Jesus born on December 25th?” The answer, according to Rabbi Jonathan Chan, is NO, Jesus was born in the Spring — “Nissan One”– in March or April, the only time of the year when shepherds would be out watching their flock at night when baby lambs are being born. It would also have been around the year 4 BC, the historical date when King Herod the Great died. In case you are unfamiliar with the story, he was the king who ordered all the male infants two-years old and under killed after he learned from the Magi that a “king of the Jews” had been born.
(When you have 24 minutes to spare, click on the the Rabbi’s name above to view the entire compelling argument and historical, as well as astronomical and celestial evidence. He’s quite entertaining as well.)
I saw a post on Facebook a few days ago that the “Bethlehem Star” was seen back in June of 2015 for the first time in 2000 years—according to a CNN special report. The “star” is thought to be a brilliant phenomenon in the heavens created by a planetary conjunction involving Jupiter and Venus. There is also conjecture that the Star of Bethlehem could be a super nova, or a “gamma burst” as this clip demonstrates.
Well, there was such a “triple conjunction” on February 25 in the year 6 BC with the planets Jupiter, Saturn and Mars forming a triangle low in the western sky. This is when the “Three Kings” of the Magi saw “his star in the East” and proceeded to Bethlehem to see the newly-born child “King of the Jews” and to bring him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. It apparently took them two years to reach their destination. So, we can remove the three kings from our Nativity Scene as they were not there yet. They can be put there on January 6th, the Feast of Epiphany, which commemorates the revelation of Christ to the Gentiles, as represented by the Magi.
The Real Reason for the Season
So, why do we celebrate Christmas on December 25th? And what’s the real reason for the Season? Here’s what I found at Space.com:
In ancient times, Dec. 25 was the date of the lavish Roman festival of Saturnalia. It was a time when gifts were exchanged; homes, streets and buildings were decorated; people came home for the holidays and everybody was in a happy, party mood.
It has been said that early Christians chose the date of the Saturnalia in order to avoid attention and thus escape persecution. When the Roman emperor Constantine officially adopted Christianity in the 4th century, the date of Christmas remained Dec. 25.
The real “reason for the Season,” then, is gift-giving, and in the Christian world, in celebration of the birth of Jesus, celebrated by Handle as “Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.” (from Isaiah 9;6). It is said that after Handle finished composing this masterwork, he exclaimed “I have seen the face of God.” (Click on Handle to enjoy the music)
Thanks to the Romans, we can have a “White Christmas” in December, which we could not have in March or April. How wonderfully perfect it all worked out!
LOVE IS BORN ANEW IN OUR HEARTS
Meister Eckhart saw the true meaning of Christmas when he penned these words:
“Where is he who is born King of the Jews? Now concerning this birth, mark where it befalls. I say again, as I have often said before, that this birth befalls in the soul exactly as it does in eternity, neither more nor less, for it is the same birth: this birth befalls in the ground and essence of the soul. . . . God is in all things as being, as activity, as power.”
Here’s something I would like to share with my readers during this year’s Holiday Season. It’s from “Daily OM” and written by Madysin Taylor:
Holding the holidays in your heart throughout the year it can be wonderfully transformative. Holidays and joy are two elements of our lives that are naturally intertwined. Traditional celebrations awaken within us an ardent desire to reconnect with the people we care about and to share our abundance. During the holiday season, we feel more driven to actively practice compassion, tolerance, selflessness, and gratitude. When we feel stressed, we find peace in the company of loved ones. And, filled with warm thoughts, we endeavor to ensure that others can share in our celebrations. Yet while happiness and holidays go hand in hand, the serenity and optimism that blossom within as we act on our festive feelings need not be relegated to a few days or weeks each year. We can carry the holiday spirit within us all year long if we make an effort to embrace a celebratory frame of mind no matter what the date.
Holding the holidays in your heart can be wonderfully transformative. Changing your life can be as simple as thinking about the uplifting activities you engage in and the positive attitudes you adopt during the holiday season and then integrating them into your daily life. If you learn to always be as open to wonder as you are around the holidays, the world will seem like a more magical place, whether it is December, March, or August. While holidays represent a great opportunity to reconnect with family and friends, there is little preventing you from reaching out to the people you care about throughout the year. The patience, compassion, goodwill, and tolerance you feel while celebrating can easily become a part of your everyday experience. Likewise, you will soon discover that the generous charitable gifts you give once a year mean just as much during other months and are often needed even more.
To remind yourself of your decision to carry the holiday spirit in your heart, consider displaying some small part of your holiday décor to signify your commitment. Remember that giving, whether your gifts are tangible or of the soul, always feels good, whatever the occasion. However you prefer to celebrate the holidays, practicing the ideals of the season every day means experiencing the beauty of the holiday season all year long.
We just finished watching the Global Citizen Prize television extravaganza this Friday evening — celebrating the world’s most inspiring activists — hosted by the exuberant John Legend. What a huge release of love and compassion for humanity and care for the planet! What a reprieve from the daily national news! This is truly the “eleventh hour” and there’s so much more to be done to save our species and the natural world. It was so good to see and to honor with gratitude those who are leading forth in this effort and the much they have already done. God’s blessings upon them each one.
I leave you to enjoy the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s offering of an excerpt from Handle’s Messiah.
And with that, I wish you all and each one a very Happy Holiday Season, a Blessed Solstice, and a healthy New Year in 2020.
Merry Christmas and “May God bless us each one.”