For what it’s worth, before I became a “born again Christian,” the Bible meant little to nothing to me. It had nothing to do with my life, what I thought or how I lived. Now, however, as a born again Christian, that has changed. I’ve read and studied the Bible a lot and for a long time. There’s so much to learn about practical wisdom that I need to apply to my life, to make me a better person, a better husband, neighbor, co-worker, grandfather, citizen, and so on.
Another personal aspect is that when I find a good thing, especially when it is so abundant and would be so beneficial to others, I feel a certain obligation to try to share. It’s like I’m digging in the vegetable garden, and my shovel hits a treasure chest filled to overflowing. I keep it hidden, but take out particular gems to show to others, because I find them quite beautiful, and someone might actually appreciate and need them.
Unfortunately, most people cannot distinguish their beauty or assay their worth. Perhaps this is so due to the fact that the gems are still covered with dirt, their value is hidden, and all that is seen is some fool offering this stony rubble as if it were silver or gold. They wag their heads and walk away muttering, “What a fool!”
I do wish I was a more polished writer, perhaps a successful well-accomplished individual with some sort of standing in society’s eyes. Maybe then folks would pay more attention to what I’m trying to share. Perhaps then they would take a moment to listen and to consider. Sadly, I’m just an old and ordinary man…
However, I have an eternal and extraordinary God who brought light into my darkness, turned my life around, and has shown me such good and such great treasures. He has provided for my earthly needs… but that’s another topic for another essay…
In my Bible studying, I find myself obligated to defend and to explain, to straighten out common misunderstandings and to allay objections to both Bible and to Bible believers. Using myself to illustrate, do I own a doctorate of theology? No. Have I “arrived” or find myself blameless? No. Neither. Am I some sort of special? Maybe my late mother thought so. Nevertheless, my self image and self worth is quite intellectually balanced and not emotionally needy. I’m at a place where I know strength and weakness, attributes and flaws — just an old and ordinary man.
Now, I don’t want to spoil anybody’s party or rob anyone of their traditional celebrations, so please take this with a grain of salt or however many grains you might need. I “hate to break the news to you” (not really), but Jesus was not born on December 25th — more like March 18th. He also is not a little baby anymore. But that’s another topic for another essay…
What’s the clue on the map that led me to that conclusion? The First Noel. The shepherds being out all night was a necessary duty they performed only during the lambing season. All those births would attract all the various predators. So, the sheep needed all the staffs and slingshots to be bravely wielded by the shepherds. Hmmm. So, when would the angels appear to proclaim the birth of the long-awaited Messiah? When would the shepherds feel somewhat comfortable to abandon their responsibilities to their flocks to leave them with a minimal defensive crew? How about just before everything began to happen? I figured the lambing season is around late March through mid April. Then, why wouldn’t it be around Passover?
Passover celebrates God’s deliverance of Israel from captivity in Egypt and the beginning of the fulfillment of God’s promises to their patriarch Abraham. So, wouldn’t the birth of the Messiah, the beginning of the fulfillment of God’s promises to all Mankind correspond to Passover? This makes a lot more sense to me than sharing this particular birthday with the false god and idol worship of Juno, as in the Roman Empire’s traditions.
Oh, Christmas is still going to be celebrated all over the world as a stewpot of religions and fables, jolly elves, evergreen magic and all the material trappings of the modern holiday. Still, the Bible tells us that God is a jealous God and doesn’t particularly condone sharing the stage… I think because He has higher priorities for Mankind and we ought to, we need to listen and to consider. He loves us and has transcendent gifts for us. He has the plan for success in our lives to bring us joy and peace and wisdom and bounty in the things that really matter. These other traditions are distractions and are walls between God and Mankind. Like a good father, He wants only the best for us. Then, how to choose…
Perhaps we know better, and we can choose whatever we want to choose. “Be free.” But who do we sound like then? Teenage rebels without a cause? I’d say so.
It is important to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Savior of Mankind, the Messiah, and perhaps it should be a daily cause of thanksgiving not only a once a year celebration. I’m not trying to panic, saying, “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!” I only put this before you all to hear and to consider that the Bible stories are true, sensible, historic and replete with gems for our benefit.
Anyways… “… there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today, in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.’ “ (Luke 2:8–11, NIV)