In response to the recent interesting letter written by Kevin Carlyon (Letters, December 12), I would just like to clarify a few points raised.
First, Christianity is actually rooted in the oldest belief system in the world - Judaism, which dates back to the start of the human race and origins of creation. Both Jews and Christians worship the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who are key biblical figures of the Old Testament of the Bible.
Those who believed that the Jewish Jesus of Nazareth was the promised Messiah, were born into the Christian faith, this being widely regarded as ‘fulfilled Judaism’. There are promises in the Old Testament scriptures which were written hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus which prophesied about the Messiah so that many would know when He appeared.
These are often read at Christmas carol services, and include scriptures such as Micah 5:2, “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be a ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”
One could spend a long while looking at each Old Testament prophecy and comparing them to the historical records of Jesus and see why Christians conclude that He is the long awaited Messiah.
In the Old Testament there was no such thing as Christians, as Jesus had not yet made Himself known as the Messiah. What God-fearing Jews were then, would have been considered what Christians are today. In the Old Testament, the law was given to highlight to us humans that we certainly are not perfect (as it could not be kept), it showed that people preferred to follow their own ways rather than God’s ways which can be very damaging and is therefore is classified as ‘sin’.
In the New Testament, the cure for mankind’s sin was revealed in the birth of the Messiah, who would pay through His death the price for everyone’s sins for all time, and this is made available for all who would receive it.
The Messiah would be from God Himself and of God Himself, this being a demonstration of the love of God that He would rather pay the price for people’s wrong doing Himself than see them suffer from it themselves. This therefore demonstrates that as Creator He has certainly not deserted His invention. Like a perfect gentleman He does not force His way into peoples lives but promises to be found by those who truly seek Him.
Secondly, it’s widely acknowledged that Christmas - the birth of Jesus is celebrated at the same time as the Pagan festivals such as Sol Invictus. This does not however mean that the faith itself has Pagan roots as explained above. Many believe that early Christians deliberately chose to celebrate the Messiah’s birthday at this festival time to encourage the spread of Christianity through the Pagan Roman world, i.e., if Christmas looked like a Pagan holiday, more Pagans would be open to the holiday and the God whose birth it celebrated.
So the Church of Rome may well have chosen this date to counteract this feast of the sun god, to highlight that the Son of God rather than the sun god should be worshipped.
No one knows the exact date of the birth of Christ but the important issue is that he was born and this is based on historical fact, not seen through blinkered vision onr based on myth. Personally, I like the fact that the Bible does not give the exact date - each day can therefore be considered a celebration day for such good news!
This good news affects every sphere of our society today, it provides hope of healing (many have had their health restored this year), promotes happy family life and wholesome business (through unconditional love and blessing of others), care for the poor and underprivileged, hope for the oppressed and despairing, and a future for the dying.
There is a lot to be thankful for and much to celebrate. May 2015 bring greater awareness of such blessing which has been bought, paid for and freely given by a wonderful God. Happy Christmas. one and all!
Old London Road