Why Do We Celebrate Christmas on December 25?

Why Do We Celebrate Christmas on December 25?

By Larry Plachno

Larry-150x1 blueNon-Christians frequently bring up the question of why Christmas is celebrated on December 25. It is a known fact that Jesus Christ was probably born in the summer and they suggest that Christians took advantage of existing harvest festivals, the date of the winter solstice, or the date honoring the sun god of the ancients. However, there is strong evidence that the day the “star” stood still over Bethlehem and the visit of the Magi with their gifts took place on December 25. Hence, there is ample justification for the celebration of Christmas and the exchange of gifts on December 25. If you give me a few minutes of your time I will try to provide the background on all of this and give you some interesting history as well as information on stars.

Today, when we talk about stars most people think about movie stars or rock stars. It was not always this way. When Christ was born people spent more time looking at the stars in the heavens. There was less pollution in the cities to block the view and the people did not have television, newspapers and cell phones to divert their interest. In those days prior to air conditioning it was not uncommon for people to sleep on their rooftops to get some fresh air and fall asleep watching the stars. Hence, it is not unexpected that stars are mentioned so prominently in the Bible.

Early work on tracking the movement of the stars was done by Tycho Brahe, a Danish astronomer, who is memorialized by having a crater on the moon named after him. His successor was Johannes Kepler (1571-1630), a German who became the Imperial Mathematician and Astronomer in Prague. By the early 1600s he had developed the laws of Planetary Motion that we still use today. Kepler did try to recreate the sky at the time of the birth of Christ but was not successful. One reason was he was looking at the wrong dates due to mistaken ideas on the dates for the birth of Christ and the death of King Herod. A second reason was that figuring out the mathematics of planetary motion had to be done manually at that time and was very time consuming.

It was Dionysius Exiguus (470-544), a monk from the area we now call Romania and Bulgaria, who had originally developed the method of numbering years that we still use today. He is remembered for doing substantial translations from Greek to Latin and he also wrote on elementary mathematics. In those days, there was not a calendar in every kitchen and numbering years was very informal. Some countries based years on dynasties or when a leader came to power. The only serious system used by some scholars was called AUC or Ab Urbe Condita (from the founding of the city), based on the founding year of Rome. But, since the Roman civilization was in decline while Christianity was on the rise, Dionysius Exiguus figured out how to start dating years with the birth of Christ. He was not that far off. Continue reading

Why Forgive?

Why Forgive?

 “Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers until he should pay back the whole debt. So will My heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart.”

The newspaper comic strip For Better or For Worse is car­toonist Lynn Johnston’s take on modern family life as she chronicles the life of the Pattersons.

In a not too recent episode, six-year-old Michael is trying to build an elaborate tower out of his set of blocks. But the blocks keep toppling over . . . again and again and again. In utter frustration, he screams “Stupid, dumb, crummy …” and kicks the pile of blocks across the room. His mother has had enough of his behavior and drags Mi­chael off to bed. “No! Ahh! Don’t wanna go to bed! Waah!!” he protests, but Mom will have none of it. To bed — now!”

As his exhausted Mom is about to turn off the light, Mi­chael, tucked in his bed, asks, “Mom? Aren’t you gonna kiss me goodnight?’ Continue reading

Living the Moral Life: Unforgiveness

Living the Moral Life: Unforgiveness 

ProLifeCorner-

A good friend who is also my Pastor is doing a series on “Living The Moral Life.”  The article below is number 41 in this series. This particular talk is on gossip. I wish I could say that I have never been guilty of that particular sin. It seems that gossip today is more prevalent than it was when I was younger. Maybe that’s just selective remembering on my part. I think what I like so much about this article is Pastor Timothy  Barr is not just giving us his opinion, he gives many biblical examples of why we should not be guilty of this particular sin. I know I am going to take this article close to my heart, and especially as we move into the Lenten season I am going to make more of an effort to hold my tongue. Please enjoy this article.

Living the Moral Life: Unforgiveness

A tell-tale sign that one has not forgiven is gossip. In fact, it produces unforgiveness in others. So not only does it condition the self to not forgive, but encourages others to fall into the same sin. It seems to be the favorite American pastime. But first, to help motivate us not to gossip, we need to understand why it is so wicked. Continue reading

Fence Sitters

Fence Sitters

ProLifeCorner- (CAN) There was a large group of people. On one side of the group stood Jesus.   On  the other side of the group stood Satan. Separating them, running through the group was a fence.

The scene was set, both Jesus and Satan began calling to the people in the group. One by one, each having made up his or her mind, each went to either Jesus or Satan. This kept going on for a while, and eventually Jesus had gathered around him a group of people from the larger crowds, as did Satan.

But one man joined neither group. He climbed the fence that was there and just sat down on it. Then Jesus and his people left and disappeared. So too, did Satan and his people.  And the man on the fence sat alone.

As this man sat there, Satan came back and appeared to be looking for something that he’d lost. The man said, “Have you lost something?” Satan looked straight at him and replied, “No, there you are. Come with me.” “But,” said the man, “I sat on the fence. I chose neither you nor Him.” “That’s okay,” said Satan. “I own the fence.”

[By David Langerfeld]

Satan doesn’t care if you read the Bible, as long as you don’t apply it to your life. Continue reading

Rigidity of Self

ProLifeCorner- Nov 14 2014-  Me, myself, and I is a way of selfishness, greed, laziness, revenge, etc.. that leads one to Hell.  The “I know better than God” mentality is an attitude embraced by many young people from the ages of 18 to 35 who do not believe the Bible is truly the Word of God. Continue reading

Men, Women, Marriage and God

ProLifeCorner.com–  by Larry Plachno-  His Holiness, Pope Francis recently announced that he was calling a synod of bishops to meet in October of 2014 to discuss issues relating to marriage. Other religious leaders, including our own Bishop David Malloy of Rockford, had already started to concentrate more on marriage. As a result, there is an increasing emphasis on marriage in religious circles. Continue reading

THE BIBLE AND ABORTION

By  Rev. John H. Hampsch, C.M.F.- The strangest anomaly in the burning issue of abortion is the presence of pro-choice advocates who claim to be bible believers. For these, Jesus’ words to the Sadducees apply: “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures” (Mt. 22:29). Before surgical abortion was technically possible, unborn babies were killed only when the mother was slain also, as recorded in Amos 1: 13; Ammon’s genocidal act God punished by a tumult of nature and deprivation of national leadership. Continue reading