You made it! You persevered through the darkest day of the year!
December 21st, the winter solstice, is notoriously known as the day with the shortest window of daylight. Every day leading to the solstice gets a bit shorter until the culmination of darkness on the 21st. Every day thereafter—until the summer solstice—will grow longer and brighter.
The Roman Empire celebrated a holiday at this time honoring Sol Invictus, “the unconquered sun god,” before Christianity became the empire’s official religion, which was then transformed into a celebration of Christ becoming the light shining in the darkness – Christmas.
Historians tell us that Jesus was almost certainly not born on December 25th. In fact, nothing in the bible that discusses Jesus’s birth suggests that he was even born in the wintertime. So then, why do we celebrate his birthday so closely to the darkest day of the year? There are two reasons: one is practical and the other, mystical.
The first reason is because it is easier to establish new holidays on top of the old traditions. Societies and cultures operate in habitual patterns. The winter solstice was a day to celebrate the Sun God (where we derive “Sunday” from). As we entered a new dawn of worship recognizing a new god, wouldn’t it just flow nicely to celebrate on a similar day? People already had the day off!
The second reason requires imagination and faith. Doesn’t it make perfect sense that during the darkest day of the year, we would search for Jesus? During the bleakest time in history, the Messiah came to offer salvation to all who believed, bring light and hope. What if during the darkest periods of our lives, instead of surrendering to misery and despair, we turned to Jesus to bring us into the light? Christmas then does not have to fall on December 25th or the actual day of his birth but is celebrated any time we devote ourselves to God and ask for his divine guidance into the light.
This time of year, let darkness give way to the glorious birth of Christ the Savior. Come out of the darkness and rejoice with us this Christmas! Join us for the following worship services: Saturday, December 24th at 5:30 PM for Family worship, at 11:00 PM for Candlelight worship, and Sunday, December 25th at 10:15 AM for Carols and Lessons.