Thursday, December 23, 2021

Celebrating Jesus!

A Christmas Bobservation –
Pastor Bob Lawrenz

Merry Christmas to all of you, as we celebrate Jesus’ birth. I read a couple of weeks ago that the Church did not celebrate Christmas until about 400 A.D. Well, it was 336 A.D in the fourth century. There are several theories as to how December 25th was identified as the date of Jesus’ birth, but none of them definitively rise to the level of being verifiably authentic.

During the first two hundred years of the Church, the Church Fathers disdained the pagan custom of celebrating birthdates, particularly those of Church Martyrs, much less that of Jesus Himself. If they were to be remembered, it would be better to acknowledge the dates of their sacrifice. But in 221 A.D. things changed.

Sextus Julius Africanus, (b. circa AD 180, Jerusalem—d. circa 250), was the first Christian historian known to produce a chronology that was universally accepted. His life is not well documented, but evidence indicates that Africanus traveled considerably in Asia, Egypt, and Italy and later lived chiefly at Emmaus, in Palestine, where he served as Prefect. He was named Regional Ambassador to Rome about 222, when Emperor Severus Alexander made him a protégé.

Africanus’ greatest work in chronologies was Chronographiai (221), a treatise of five volumes on sacred and profane history from the Creation (which he placed at 5499 BC) to AD 221. Relying on the Bible as the basis of his calculations, he incorporated and synchronized Egyptian and Chaldaean chronologies, Greek mythology, and Judaic history with Christianity. His work raised the prestige of early Christianity by placing it within a historical context. He also developed the critical work on Jesus’ genealogies we now find in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.

It is most likely Africanus’ work that convinced many to use December 25th as Jesus’’ birthdate. But there still remains an absence of scriptural authentication, in spite of Africanus’ work. But all his work centered around God’s Word, and His Word-Made-Flesh, who dwelled among us, Jesus the Christ, Messiah and Redeemer.

Other lesser-known theories likewise lack scriptural proof, and but as the Gospel spread around the world from that first Pentecost after the Resurrection, Christmas has been celebrated in as many different ways as there are nations and cultures where Christianity gained a foothold. Each adapted the celebration according to their own cultures.

Today in 2021, here in the United States, the celebration of Christmas is so far from being a celebration of Jesus’ birth as to be unrecognizable to the early Church Fathers as a holy religious celebration, except in some churches.

Flashing lights, parties, and gifts for all the kiddies give the day the atmosphere of secular Reno, or Las Vegas, Nevada. Our nation’s roots in Judeo-Christian principles have come further and further away from those principles over the decades as God and His Commandments have been barred from the schools of our children, as well as the halls of government.

As we do celebrate Christmas this year, many of our neighbors will merely be exchanging presents without necessarily being believers. Of twenty houses on my street, I know of only two others besides mine whose owners attend church every week.

Growing up in the 40’s and 50’s, I recall 60% or more of those on my street attended a church or synagogue of some kind. Religion is in decline. Churches are on a decline. Faith itself is in decline. Yet Christ Jesus still reigns and rules on His throne in heaven. How do I know this?

I know this because His prophecies are still coming true, and all will be fulfilled in His time. Even this temporary decline is prophesied!

Keep Jesus at the core of this celebration. And as for December 25th? Celebrate Jesus every day!

“Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” 
Matthew 24:35 / Mark 13:31 / Luke 21:33

On this Christmas Eve,

Let this be a silent night.

Let this be a Holy Night.

Jesus has already been born!

Ref. Encyclopedia Britanica

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