Light in the Midst of Darkness

Fred Plumer reflects on Christmas on 22 December 2014

For decades, I felt compelled to explain that December 25 was really not the date Jesus was born. I suspect I have ruined Christmas mornings for more than one parishioner. But I thought it was important… Over the last few years, I have begun to think that celebrating Jesus’ birthday on the same holiday of Sol Invictus or the Winter Solstice was actually a good idea and in some ways appropriate…

Jesus entered the world in a dark time in human history, particularly for his own people, the Jews…  few of us can even begin to grasp how hopeless and dark the world must have seemed to those oppressed people…

It was into this great darkness that Yeshua entered the world. In spite of his humble beginning, somewhere along the way he managed to bring a new light, a new perspective to many of his followers…

…It is sad if not tragic that so many people in our crowded world now live in developed areas where they rarely experience real darkness. The constant glare from street lights, house lights, car lights, billboards, cell phones and computers keeps us hidden from the darkness. And therefore the slow but definitive transition from darkness into light is lost to so many and experienced by so few. Without that, it is difficult to appreciate the new light. This transition is one of the fundamental rhythms of nature. Whether we recognize it or not, we are part of nature.

Our early ancestors took these transitions seriously. For one thing they were part of an agricultural society. Their lives were dependent on knowledge of the seasons and the life of the sun. That is why so many of the ancient religious expressions were based around the worship of the sun… In the Roman Empire when Christianity was becoming an institution, those celebrations came to be called the winter Solstice or Sol Invictus…

The decision to celebrate Jesus’ birth on December 25th was made in the early fourth century when Constantine was the Roman Emperor. Constantine was grounded in the cult of Sol Invictus. The date was selected for Jesus’s birth in order to correspond with the Roman festival of Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, or Birthday of the Unconquered Sun…

However, over the last few years, I have begun to think that celebrating Jesus’ birthday on the same holiday of Sol Invictus or the Winter Solstice was actually a good idea and in some ways appropriate. I rarely quote from the Book of John because we know there is little authentic Yeshua history in this late Gospel. In fairness, the writer or writers of the book of John did have the perspective of how Yeshua teachings may have had a positive, even enlightening impact on his first century followers. Maybe that is why as I write this, I continue to hear John’s voice whispering in my ear.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:1-5)
Jesus entered the world in a dark time in human history, particularly for his own people, the Jews. I will not go into the gory details here but few of us can even begin to grasp how hopeless and dark the world must have seemed to those oppressed people.

It was into this great darkness that Yeshua entered the world. In spite of his humble beginning, somewhere along the way he managed to bring a new light, a new perspective to many of his followers…

READ THE FULL ARTICLE: Light in the Midst of Darkness