Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas!

It's sort of annual tradition on my part to put up this post, or at least the essence of it, since I revise it regularly.
On this night 47 years ago, Christmas eve of 1968, Apollo 8 was on the world's first mission to the moon. Like sailors sailing out of sight of land for the first time, man was leaving the safety of shore for the first time. We were becoming a space-faring population.  Here on the ground, 1968 had been a tumultuous year but we were united in watching the Apollo 8 mission in a way few things have united Americans.  

I'll never forget that message they sent down, that Christmas eve.  Especially after roughly 1:20 into this video.

Churches, like all groups, have personalities, and in the one I attend, it would be remarkable to toss a wadded up paper ball and not hit an engineer, nurse, doctor, or a tech professional.  It's not news to this bunch that Jesus was probably born in the spring or fall rather than in the dead of winter, nor is it news that the December 25th date comes from adapting to the Roman Saturnalia or other pagan holidays; nor would they be shocked if you told them Christmas has more secular than holy traditions associated with it and many things that are totally ingrained in the holiday traditions started out as advertising gimmicks.  There was no little drummer boy when the events we portray as the nativity happened; in fact, the scene we call the nativity is a conglomeration of bits and pieces from multiple Gospels, and certainly did not happen within the first couple of days of Jesus' life.  Nobody knows how many magi ("wise men") came to visit the child; we say three because of the three gifts listed, but it could have been almost any number.  Furthermore, it wasn't at his birth; it was when Jesus was closer to two years old. 

A friend sent me this contribution on the question of the exact date.
The truth is we simply don’t know the exact date of our Savior’s birth. In fact, we don’t even know for sure the year in which He was born. Scholars believe it was somewhere between 6 B.C. and 4 B.C. One thing is clear: if God felt it was important for us to know the exact date of the Savior’s birth, He certainly would have told us in His Word. The Gospel of Luke gives very specific details about the event, even down to what the baby was wearing – “swaddling clothes”—and where he slept—“in a manger” (Luke 2:12). These details are important because they speak of His nature and character, meek and lowly. But the exact date of His birth has no significance whatsoever, which may be why God chose not to mention it.
I've heard another explanation for why December 25th was chosen.  It's close to the solstice, the longest night of the year - which made it the darkest night of the year in those days. Jesus was the light of the world, and the symbolism of bringing light when things are at their darkest fits perfectly with the story.  If someone came out with a convincing line of evidence that Jesus really was born on December 25th, I'd be surprised... but not very.  We use a different calendar today than was used in those days, and I'm not sure today's December 25th is the same day as that era's December 25th.  Again, paraphrasing that previous quote, not that it matters. 

"And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more." -- Dr. Seuss

Hold close the ones you love.  If we're very lucky, this will be the worst Christmas of our lives and everything in life gets better year by year for the rest of our lives.  And if things get worse, we'll remember this as the "good old days".  Either way, hold tight.  And do it "before you dot another 'i' or cross another 't', Bob Cratchit!"

It's one my of my blessings that a group of really great folks stop by here to share my blather - Google says about a thousand of you every day, which blows my mind.  Thanks.

So however you mark this day, enjoy it well.  Spend time with family or friends or both.  Remember the good service members deployed far from home.  If you're Military, LEO, or fire; EMT, Nurse or MD, and are one who must work while the rest of us rest, thank you.


  1. Merry Christmas, fellow graybeard!

  2. Merry Christmas, old friend! All the best to you and the Mrs.! Visiting the son in JAX. Then, north for a few days.

  3. Merry Christmas.
    Don't forget to sleep in Monday too.

    Just because you can.

  4. Merry Christmas and God bless you! I'd write more, but that really seems to cover it. :-D

  5. Merry Christmas from a frequent blog reader!

  6. Merry Christmas
    Great post.

  7. Christ was born on September 11, 3 B.C. Here's the proof.

    The Star of Bethlehem (Shockwave video)
    Explains very simply how conjunctions of the various planets, stars and constellations would have appeared to the Magi mentioned in Matthew 2:1-12.

    September 11th 3 B.C. astronomical chart
    Described in Revelation 12:1 as follows:
    "And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars"

    The configuration of the sun and moon in the constellation Virgo occurred on only one day within the requisite historical and Biblical timeframes. Thus, Jesus Christ was born on Wednesday, September 11, 3 B.C., between 6:18 and 7:39 P.M., Palestine time. This was Tishri 1, New Year’s Day of Adam’s reckoning and "birthday of the world." This day was used to date the regnal years of the kings of Judah and the great Day of Trumpets celebrating Jehovah as the one True God.

    If you are ambitious and wish to trace all of the historical, Biblical and astronomical evidence for September 11 you can read this book online: "The Star that Astonished the World," by Ernest Martin, Ph.D.

    September 11th in history
    Starts with Christ's birth on September 11 and continues to that fateful day on 9-11-2001. Wouldn't your archenemy love to forever taint the day you were born with a massive tragedy known around the world? The devil knows when Christ was born.

  8. Boris Karloff reading Dr. Seuss...doesn't get much better than that! :-)