It is said that there is an ongoing Spiritual war [herein after War]. Sometimes, as a Christian, it sure feels that way, especially around the end of the calendar year.
In the mid-fourth century, the organized church set December 25th as the official date Christianity was to celebrate the birth of Christ. There was gestation math at the time that supported this date.
This was just at the end of the Roman holiday, Saturnalia (also Yuletide or winter solstice celebration). Saturn was thought of as the god of agriculture – think food and grapes. And, oh, could those Romans party! The organized church hoped to gain a foothold for Christianity by celebrating Christ’s Birth during this festival.
The first Christmas ship had sailed. The War was engaged.
Rather early in the 6th century, Christmas became an official civil (secular) holiday. This was the first battle the organized church lost.
For a few years early in the 17th century, the church that had rebelled against the organized church banned the celebration of Christmas. Did that rebelliously organizing church foresee the folly of this War? They had the zeal to change the battle plan, but didn’t know what to offer. It would take nearly three more centuries for that option to appear: Worldwide Communion Day.
After this rebellion against Christmas, both organized churches fell back in line. The second Christian battle loss.
The pagans and seculars, seizing this opportunity, escalated the War. Giving and receiving presents had long been a tradition of the pagan’s December practices. Later in the 19th century, the gift giving Father Christmas was welcomed into Christian homes. Battle loss number three for Christianity.
Christmas in the 20th century changed greatly from what it was in the 19th. People still put up Christmas trees, a pagan tradition adopted by Christians before the 17th century rebellion. They filled stockings, and held holiday parties. What was the big difference? Christmas became commercialized. This was the fourth consecutive battle on behalf of Christ lost.
Throughout the 20th century, the attrition on the Spiritual side spiraled out of control. The holiday was celebrated as Xmas. “They’ve taken Christ out of the picture,” was the church’s nearly inaudible battle cry. Battle losses mounted to five.
Then, in the 21st century, purveyors of the Holiday Shopping Season, as it is now known, dropped the big one. Christmas shopping on the Internet. No one even had to go to the mall anymore. The fleet of Christmas ships that had been sailing since the 4th century was decimated. The War now seemed lost.
Yet some of the Christian ships are still afloat. These remaining ships must be turned to safer waters. It makes no sense to keep fighting to celebrate the birth of Christ on December 25th. That has been a losing battle for nearly 1800 years.
Let’s start Commemorating (why were we celebrating needing to have God “save our bacon” in the first place) the Birth of Christ on Worldwide communion day; the first Sunday in October. This may look like a defeat to the non-Christian world. For the sake of the Saving Grace offered through Christ, however, it would be a strategic retreat.