Glad tidings are floating around in cyberspace. These are relatively new ones, and they claim that the Church, in celebrating Christmas on December 25, is more than three months late (waaaay more). According to them, Jesus was really born on September 11 – of 3 B.C., and between 6:18 and 7:39 P.M., to be exact. Bible scholars have long maintained that December 25, the date officially chosen for the feast of Christ’s birth, was not likely to have been His real birthday. Evidently, quite a lot of people are sold on September 11 instead.
I may share a birthday with the Savior of the world!
A website called By the Word.com says that the “early Church Fathers probably chose December 25th because the feast of the sun, or winter solstice, was a familiar Roman feast celebrating the victory of light over darkness. This idea was easily turned from a pagan to a Christian one, since Christians consider Christ as the light of life.” This practice began, the site notes (quoting The Roman Catholic Encyclopedia) in approximately 330 A.D. And we poor, benighted Christians have been going on that way ever since.
September 11 of 3 B.C. was also the start of the Judean New Year, or Tishri 1 – also called the Day of Trumpets. Today, it is known as Rosh Hashanah. “Coincidence?” By the Word asks. “No because God’s timetable is perfect.”
The terrorists don’t know this because they’re Muslims, but they, too, were participating in the enacting of God’s timetable, the website assures us. This is “evil today trying to erase or change the focus of September 11th…”
Now, there are a veritable host of websites out there proclaiming basically the same thing, including Oprah.com. And far be it for me to challenge Oprah.
I don’t mean to rain on anybody’s Christmas Day parade, but though by no means all of the sites making this claim, or even suggesting it, are run by crackpots, a fair number of them seem to be. The general gist of their rhetoric appears, to me, to be End Times “prophecy” designed to stir up hysteria among the faithful. It also tends to be somewhat anti-Catholic, as in “the papists have gotten it wrong again.” But to be fair, the Roman Catholic hierarchy never even claimed that December 25 was anything more than the date chosen to commemorate Christ’s birth. Nor was the early Church’s purpose the perpetuation of paganism – contrary to yet another dark hint dropped by some of these sites.
I would be honored to share a birthday with Jesus. Even the possibility that it might be true is, indeed, exciting for me to think about. If more scholarship, from sober and responsible sources, emerges to back this claim up in the future, I will heed it with tremendous interest.
But in the meantime, I will be perfectly happy to celebrate Christmas when everybody else does.
In the spirit of celebration, I will probably take off the rest of this holiday week from posting here. So I’ll go ahead and wish you all the very merriest of Christmases. Enjoy!