Edited by Gerald Boerner
Today, December 25th, is the culmination of this holiday and Advent season. It is the celebration of the birth of the Christ Child, as described in the gospels of the New Testament. It is a day set apart on our religious calendars equal to that of Easter Sunday, which is the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus three days after he was crucified by those Roman soldiers, acting as agents to the Jewish leaders of the time, the Pharisees and Sadducees . It is also, unfortunately, the culmination of a season of spending excesses dependent upon by the merchants in our country.
As we think about this day, all we can use as guidelines of the events surrounding the nativity of the Christ Child are the accounts in the New Testament Gospels, especially those of Matthew and Luke. Even there, these writings were made years after the death and resurrection of Jesus; they are not journalistic or scientific accounts of the events of that night when Jesus was born. Therefore, we must accept the Advent of Jesus for what it was, the entry into this world of God’s own Son as flesh-and-blood. All else is irrelevant!
There has been much controversy over the years as far as the date of the event and the interpretation of the “virgin” birth. The date of the event, in fact, was probably not of December 25th! That is the date by the Council of Nicaea and adopted by the Catholic Church; this date was selected, no doubt, to capture and build upon the pagan celebration of Saturnalia that occurred around the Winter Solstice. But that really doesn’t matter, it is the event that is celebrated, not a calendar date.
As far as the “virgin” birth, that too is a matter of faith and is at least symbolically significant. The interpretations have been clouded by the ambiguity of the languages used at the time of Jesus. It is also complicated by the further corruption of the exactitude of the language as it was translated into Latin by the Catholic Church in Rome. And for the latter organization, it led to the celebration of the Virgin Mary at the “expense” of Jesus. But this is theology, not linguistics or science. Again, it is a matter of faith.
So, let the Nativity that we celebrate this day be a core of our faith. Faith will sustain, nourish and edify us. And in the face of Faith, we don’t need to get involved in the muck of biblical exposition and criticism and we don’t need to make the events of this day fit into science. It is simply this: God the Father sent his Son, Jesus Christ, into this world in the flesh-and-blood of a man-child. This child would grow and reflect the glory of the Father, even in the face of the cruel death on that Roman cross that he would face. But His “Godness” would be the salvation of those who believe. So, let us believe!
More to the point of this present posting, we want to look at the history of the Nativity of the Christ Child through the media of art. In general, this will be stylized and non-technical, but reflect what the church, therefore the faithful, believed during different periods of time since that event some 2000 years ago. So, let’s get started with this exploration… GLB
These Introductory Comments are copyrighted:
Copyright©2011 — Gerald Boerner — All Rights Reserved
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Quotations Related to The Nativity:
“Really, at a time when they’re debating when and where a nativity scene can be used, this is the kind of stuff we need to have out there – outside of the church.”
— John Tesh
“At Christmas play and make good cheer, for Christmas comes but once a year.”
— Thomas Tusser
“Christmas is the day that holds all time together.”
— Alexander Smith