Unknown-1Today a group of us were standing around discussing the validity of Christmas.

One man said that astronomers could accurately pinpoint the heavens over Bethlehem, the day Jesus Christ was born.  He’s wrong about that, and most Christians are wrong when they go about singing and celebrating the birth of the Saviour, who supposedly was born on December 25th, in the year one.

We can study the heavens and determine the alignment of the stars and planets ages ago, but looking back 2000 some years in time,…..to Dec. 25th proves nothing.  That is an a priori assertion.  No astronomer can prove the time of the star that led the wise men from the East, because that star was an anomaly in the sky, it was divine.   The star did not hover over the manger where Mary gave birth to the Saviour of the world.  That miraculous event happened later, somewhere between Jesus’ birth and the passage of two years.

Which brings us sharply up against the mantra that ‘Christmas is for the children.’   What children?  “Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, was in a furious rage, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time which he had ascertained from the wise men.  Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah:  “A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they were no more.”

The only other child is Jesus, this One whom angels announced and wise men sought out, and kings tried to destroy.  Gifts of enormous significance were brought to this boy,……gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Richard once wrote up 25 ‘Christmas’ questions to give to a class in church. People were to merely indicate whether the statements on the page were found in the Scriptures, or not.  All of the class failed that test.

Christians have so imbibed the carols and traditions of this holiday, that even people who regularly attend a Bible-based church just assume most of the festivities have a Biblical foundation.

Our friend’s assertion about astronomy assumes that the date Dec. 25 is accurate but just a cursory search shows very few scholars believe that.  What is certain is that Dec. 25 was a wildly popular pagan festival.  Somewhere along the line the story becomes that this was also the special Christian event, the birth of the long-awaited Messiah.

Oliver Cromwell and the Puritans tried to eradicate, or a least suppress what they saw as sinful excess at Christmas, so they attempted to ban this holiday, but were quite horrid about it.  Hence the old song, ‘Oliver Cromwell lay buried and dead, Hee-haw buried and dead.’  He was an object of intense hatred and it’s easy to see why.

Where the problem comes is in the attempt to meld ribald pagan excess with the beauty and holiness of the incarnation event.

Read the Bible and you will see Jesus’ birth is foretold by the prophets.  Then the apostles give us this awesome, wonderful event in their own words.  The Gospel of Luke is inspiring, uplifting and as all of God’s revelation, the Word brings us light in our darkness.

I stepped out of the Christmas hurly-burly early in 1970.  Vancouver had one of those record-breaking snowfalls that blanketed the entire city in pure white.  There was virtually no traffic and only the sweet sound of silence.  My roommate was gone for the holidays, and I was sick with the flu.  So I sat by the window and read the Bible, about God’s gift to mankind, …..and to me.  He gave His only Son, to be born in a lowly stable, leaving behind Him the glories of Heaven.  Jesus became fully human, being born from His virgin mother, but He had no earthly father because God, the almighty was His Father.

That was the night I saw clearly,  that almost nothing about our Christmas celebrations matched the Biblical account.

Jesus lived 30 years on our fallen, needy earth before He began to teach, to show us the way back to a relationship with our Heavenly Father.  And the only way possible was for Him, Jesus, the Son of God, to give His life on Calvary, the sinless one bearing on His own body ….. the sins of the whole world.

Well fine,……. so no date was ever given to tell us Jesus’ birth-date.  And little of what passes as the Christmas story has it’s origin in Scripture.   But why be mean about it and rain on poor Virginia’s santa parade?

Aside from the original deceit of merging a pagan festival with an event of such magnitude and holiness as the incarnation, Christians, at least should step back and consider how much they contribute to the harm of Saturnalia, or whatever combination of festivals used December 25th as their high days.

Year after year newspapers and magazines carry articles and stories that depict a reality quite contrary to the ‘merry-merry, happy-happy’ image that is supposed to reign supreme at this time of year.

When we stop and listen to police, firemen, medical reports, bankers, insurance brokers etc. the harsh, and background reality is that this is a very hard time of year, in fact the worst time of year for a lot of people.  You’re supposed to be surrounded by peace and love and serenity and pastoral scenes and family and food and plenty,……like everyone else,……but you’re not. What’s wrong with you?

Cold, hard statistics show this:  Depression is up.  Suicide is up.  Heart attacks are up. Drunkenness is up. Gluttony is up.  Car accidents are up.  Spousal abuse is up.  Loneliness is up.  Family discord is up.  And financial worries are up.

People send me frenzied alerts about Starbucks not making proper Christmas coffee cups, about the need for us to  make a statement at shops that refuse to feature the Biblical aspect of Christmas, about the panic that ‘they’ are taking the Christ out of Christmas.   I’ve been deleting those messages, but finally decided to point out that Christ never was in this contrived, over-rated, frenzied, gluttonous, boozing over-indulgent, financially ruinous celebration.

Virginia, Santa is not real.  He was a fun story that grew into monstrous proportions, so that now he has usurped the God of glory.  Now Santa the fairy-tale invention KNOWS when you’re sleeping.  He knows when you’ve been bad or good, so be good,…….But Santa and all his salesmen are the major reason your parents worry about bills they cannot pay, to buy presents for all sorts of people they don’t even like.

This Santa, who is not real, is the reason your Dad and Mom are stressed and tense and get angry at one another.  They are too busy, too tired and too worried because society tells them Santa must be served.

One day, many years ago I waited on a bank customer who handed me a Chargex payment.  With weariness and relief he said, “This is the last of my Christmas payments.”  It was June.

Last year a stranger and I got talking in a store.  In a weary, dejected tone she told me she was hoping to finish up her Christmas shopping that night.  (It was December 23rd, as I recall)

So I sat down with her and told her that Richard and I pretty much stepped out of that insanity some 40 years ago.  I told her how serene our life is, while most of the world shops till they drop.  She gazed deep into my eyes for a long minute and finally said, with profound wonderment,…..”Ohh,……..I wonder if I could do that………?”

I hope she could, and did.  And I hope you can too Virginia.

That is why I write this.