Summary: In the Southern Hemisphere we celebrate Christmas over summer, but in the Northern Hemisphere things are different. Darkness and the chill of winter but into this season came the light of the world full of grace and truth.
Christmas Day: a day to celebrate light, and grace and truth.
What a great day of the year it is, gifts opened this morning, worship with the community here, I love the way the garden is looking, thanks to the Dalta (Deliberate acts of love to all) crew for that, I am really enjoying the strawberries that Rochelle has grown. My raspberry canes are currently dripping with red berries, This is a great time of the year the hum of Bumble Bees zipping around the flowers and hot - hot days . Berries and hokey pokey icecream. Beans and peas fresh from the garden, new potatoes and butter, fresh mint from the garden edges, lettuce salads, ripe tomatoes, peppers, and apricot sauce. Glazed ham, pineapple rings and chocolate fair trade of course, hopefully at some stage the chocolate fountain will come out, then strawberries and chocolate. Then there will be swimming over the summer months, days of balminess, gardens of flowers in full bloom, long evenings outside at the barbeque where the days fishing catch wrapped in tin foil will be cooked to perfection. We are so blessed in our lives that Christmas falls at such a time as this - Summer.
We celebrate Christmas at a time of fullness and plenty, but the origins of the day are much different. For us it is about warmth and light, bright foods and plenty. For those who were the first to celebrate the day of the birth of Christ Jesus it was very different.
Why would the date chosen to celebrate the birth of Christ be the 25th of December? For them the middle of winter the darkest most barren time of the year? Leafless trees and shortening days, gloom, hoare frosts and snow, diminishing food stocks and concern, and a fear the fear of the future.
A little history:
“The first recorded date of Christmas being celebrated on December 25th was in 336AD, during the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine. A few years later, Pope Julius I officially declared that the birth of Jesus would be celebrated on the 25th December.”
“There are many different traditions and theories as to why Christmas is celebrated on December 25th. A very early Christian tradition said that the day when Mary was told that she would have a very special baby, Jesus (called the Annunciation) was on March 25th - and it's still celebrated today on the 25th March. Nine months after the 25th March is the 25th December! March 25th was also the day some early Christians thought the world had been made, and also the day that Jesus died on when he was an adult.” ( http://www.whychristmas.com/customs/25th.shtml).
December 25th might have also been chosen because the Winter Solstice and the ancient pagan Roman midwinter festivals. Going back before this time winter was a time of fear, why because the sun disappeared more and more as winter set in, hence we get these magnificent stone rings such as Stone Henge that pin point the solstices and the ancients they hoped could then celebrate the days lengthening again. The thing is people lived in fear that the sun would disappear altogether, they didn’t understand that the earth was tipping on it’s axis. Apart from that winter was a time of concern that highlighted the concerns people had about life in general, about not measuring up to life and not measuring up to God, they quite literally lived in a darkness of their minds and souls.
So at Christmas with his birth, with the birth of Jesus we have come to understand that into a dark bleak world was born light. Into a world of law was born grace and truth. What our pagan ancestors didn’t comprehend, what they never knew came to us as a miracle, a baby born to a young virgin, a baby conceived by the Holy Spirit. This baby who as a man would turn the thinking of the world, a world trapped in darkness and law on its head. For grace and truth had entered the world, God had come in a form that could be understood, by minds veiled in darkness and fear, worry and law.
Today we celebrate that into a world of darkness God the Father sent God the Son, as a child into our lives, into the lives of all mankind, for this is a message for all the people. Jesus came full of grace and truth. The light has come into the darkness, there is no longer a need to fear for he has come and made his dwelling among us.
No longer does the darkness hold sway because with the birth of the baby, true light enters the world. A world once held in bondage and the darkness of past sins, of the foolishness of ancestors who gave themselves over to the cunning of powers and principalities of darkness. Is a now world set free, people set free to walk in and with The Light of the World, and to have the very Spirit of God reside in their souls.