If you were a prisoner and someone freed you from your cell, telling you that you were hereafter and forever absolved from all your crimes, providing you didn’t commit any more calumny, wouldn’t you be happy?
More than happy, you’d be thrilled. You’d be doing handsprings down the street, rejoicing all the way home, singing and dancing your heart out. Once you got home, you’d call all your friends and family together and have an enormous party to celebrate your freedom. Your family and friends would hang streamers and bring food – lots of food – and play music.
If somebody told you that it was December 25th and that before the time of Christ the festival, which actually began on Dec. 21st, at the winter solstice, this celebration was in honor of Saturn, otherwise known as Satan, what would you say to that party-pooper? You’re right. If this is the Day of Satan, I’m not going to celebrate?
Or would you tell them that that was over 2,000 years ago in honor of a fake god conjured up by Noah’s grandson, Nimrod, in order that people would worship him, Nimrod, as a god? And what’s more, even if those idiots back then celebrated a fake god – or did celebrate Satan, the Master of Evil, that was their problem?
That’s what Jehovah’s Witnesses and others claim. In fact, they happen to be right. Saturnalia is the winter solstice celebration of Saturn, or Satan, as he was known then, on the darkest of the year. That figures, doesn’t it? Sounds about right, pagans celebrating Satan on the darkest night of the year.
But then along came Jesus Christ, thousands of years after Adam and Eve were tempted into sin by Satan, and not long thereafter, Nimrod rebelled against God and went up and down the Levant convincing people to celebrate Satan instead and those God drowned in the Great Flood.
Jesus, as we know, certainly wasn’t born on December 25th. No one is really sure when he was born. Some say he was born in September. The Jehovah Witnesses think he was born in the Spring, about the same time of year, practically to the day, that he was crucified.
Jesus told his followers that they were free from their captivity in sin. That is so, and it follows that his believers, descended not from desert nomads but from northern European climes with different flora, foliage, and customs than those in the Middle East.
My Jehovah Witness friends were appalled when I (accidentally) mentioned participation in Christmas concerts this season. Ooops. The original JH friend who came to my door always promised that she would never pressure me into doing something – or ceasing to observe something – in which I did or didn’t believe. If it came to that, the lessons would stop.
She was fine with my status as a musician. But her companion began to scold me, promising that she would ‘break’ me of my addiction to this homage to Satan the way she did for a nephew. Music at any other time of year was fine, but not at Christmas. Good thing I didn’t tell her that I was a bell player, because they also believe that bells of any sort are signals to Satan to come on in.
Music was the deal-breaker. I don’t know if I’ve now become one of those heretics of whom Jesus spoke, wiping the dust of my home off the disciples’ feet as they left. I hope not. But I’ve never considered music-making at Christmas-time Satan worship. Playing Christmas music is one of greatest joys. When I’m alone, I’m as likely to sing a Christmas carol in the midst of July as I am at Christmas. “O Holy Night” and “O Little Town of Bloomingdale” – um, I mean “O Little Town of Bethlehem (to get to our house, you have to make some hairpin turns until you reach the top of the hill and then wind around another s-turn that hangs out precariously on the side of a cliff, from which you can see the valley below).
Christmas is a celebration of Jesus. Thanks to the drunken Romans, the early Christians chose Saturnalia to celebrate his unknown (as far as anyone knows) birth date. Early Christians were serious dudes and ladies. They saw what inebriation and orgies and so forth did to the Greeks, Romans, and assorted pagans. Jesus taught them to reject these practices.
Pagans today are sorely distressed that Christians have usurped their holiday. Didn’t the Bible predict that Jesus would conquer Satan and death? They want their Saturnalia back, groups like the Jehovah Witnesses want to return it to them, but modern Christians aren’t having any of it.
That’s because Christmas is a celebration – of Christ’s birth, our freedom from sin through Jesus Christ, and our salvation. That’s what people who have been freed do – they celebrate. Jesus was a humble man (and more) who would not have wanted his birth to be celebrated. However, Christmas (as I already noted) is about more than just his birth, but our freedom.
Still, we have a funny way of showing our gratitude, turning Christmas into a materialistic shop-a-thon trying to prove our love of our friends and family by maxing our credit cards to the limit with jewels, expensive gadgets, and (if the car advertisements are to be believed) luxury automobiles.
Good Christian men (and women) rejoice and also remember the poor. There are more of us poor now than ever, though we live like kings and queens compared to people in Third World countries.
We’re also way too angry. Especially at this time of year, which is kind of strange. We wouldn’t be so angry if we didn’t stress ourselves out so much trying to prove how much Christmas “spirit” we have by overshopping, overspending, and overeating and drinking. Shouting and cursing because we didn’t get a parking spot at the mall, or our spouse overcooked the potatoes, or the kids spilled eggnog on our expensive white rug is hardly the way to honor Jesus Christ.
Even if you’re not into attending church – families are more likely to attend than single people – at least open up the Bible. You’d be surprised what you’d learn. The entire Old Testament of the Bible after the first five books is all about the predictions of Christ’s birth. Even so, the very first mention, albeit an oblique reference, is at Genesis 3:15 – “And I will put enmity between thee [the serpent – who in some older versions of the Bible is Adam’s first wife Lilith who, being the equal of the Man because she was created from the same dust as he instead from his rib, also wanted to be equal with God and so was turned into a snake. The name in Hebrew and Arabic, Layill, means “night”] and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”
The tradition of the empty manger before Christmas tells us a good deal about the importance of avoiding materialistic celebrations of Christ’s birth. No matter how beautiful everything looks (and sounds) – the Christmas tree, the wreaths, the holly, the decorations – it all means nothing without Him. You might as well be celebrating the Saturnalia.
I don’t believe that means we shouldn’t celebrate, though. Even if it is technically the wrong time of year, perhaps it really is the right time, after all. Maybe we were meant to conquer Satan, internally as well as externally, in Christ’s name. If the pagans are mad about our Christmas celebration, we must be doing something right.
As long as we don’t forget about Jesus and God, our Father in Heaven, maybe it’s all right, after all, to make a little merry on this day when the Sun begins its journey (in the northern hemisphere, at least) back towards fullness.
Joy to the world, for Jesus came and released us from our captivity in sin. Let us rejoice!