“O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice:
come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.”
~ O Antiphons
This morning at 5:30 a. m. we observed the Winter Solstice with our pagan brothers and sisters. I do not use the term pejoratively; there are those who are reverently close to the earth.
Actually the date of Christmas was taken from the winter solstice because it marks, in the northern hemisphere, the beginning of the ascendency of the sun. It connotes the phrase from John 3:22-30 in which John the Baptist says the “He must increase; I must decrease.” And the Baptist’s feast, likewise is near the summer solstice on June 24th. Thus, the church did not hesitate to borrow from the existing pagan customs. Christmas trees, for example, came from Germany and the wreathe symbolized eternity. Again, these were pagan customs.
Did you know that in the middle ages they lit real candles on their Christmas trees? How ’bout that?
Some Christians today misunderstand our “cross-enculturation” of things that once had a pagan origin and sometimes berate those of us who celebrate Christmas.
Now before you go, here’s a rendition of “Unto us, a Child is Born” from Handel’s Messiah performed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Click Here. Be sure to enter full screen and turn up your speakers.