Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Jesus' Birth Date: A Lesson in Faith

This is a tricky subject to tackle because there's a good chance I might offend someone or shatter some childhood memory. That's not my intent and I'm sorry if I do, but here it goes…

Jesus was not born on December 25th. In fact, he probably wasn't even born in the Winter at all.

Take a deep breath, I'm not trashing Christmas or Jesus. Hang with me.

According to all the historical evidence and all this big heady Bible scholar stuff that I paid way too much money to study in college, Jesus was likely born in the late Spring or early Summer.

Then why do we celebrate Christmas on December 25th?

Many years ago a bunch of smart church men (maybe some women were involved but if so, history forgot them a lot time ago) sat around and decided that they would set aside December 25th as the day to celebrate the Christ Mass, eventually Christmas. This was the feast day to celebrate the Christ child.

Why this date was chosen is debated. Some believe it was chosen based on some early church figure's guesses on when Jesus would have been conceived and then plus nine months. Others say it was chosen so it would coincide with Pagan festivals at the time allowing Christians to celebrate without drawing much attention to themselves.

But if December 25th isn't Jesus' Birthday, when is it?

We don't know.

Christmas provides a perfect opportunity to begin teaching your children the three most important words for anyone who professes a life of faith: I don't know. 

I strongly encourage any parent who wants to raise their children in the Christian faith to learn to make the phrase "I don't know" a part of your daily vocabulary. I don't know allows for children to ask questions and seek out answers. It helps them to think critically of how and why they believe something and prepares them for the day when they ask a hard question and there is no answer.

So, instead of insisting that Christmas be Jesus' exact birth date, practice admitting that we don't know all the answers.

I don't know exactly when Jesus was born, no one does, but we as a people of faith have chosen to celebrate on this day so that Christians around the world can all celebrate the birth of their Savior together.

Have you ever had a question of faith answered with "I don't know'? I'd love to hear about that experience.

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