Wednesday, December 25, 2013


It’s said1 that, close to solstice, Jesus, born
To Mary, lay within a manger, there
In Bethlehem, in ancient Palestine.

It’s also written in the Gospels that,
At Easter, he was crucified – and then,
From where he lay, he rose – as Christ, reborn.

And is this true or not?  I cannot say.
So many myths and truths have mated, mixed,
With men, who’re born to women, turned divine…

But resurrection is an ancient theme –
And one, in which we gladly would believe.
We harvest seeds, from plants that die, yet live.

And each who dies has left a seed behind,
Be it from loins issued or from mind.
And if that grows or not, depends on soil.

But water, air and sunlight too, it needs.
And if these all are granted, lo, behold –
As Jesus rose from dying, so does each.

2013 December 25th, Wed.
Gregorian Christmas Day
Brooklyn, New York 
1.   The actual day, month and even year of Jesus’ birth is unknown.  From the accounts in the Gospels, it was during a season when shepherds were still out with their flocks and a census was being conducted.  If the climate in Palestine was similar to that which now prevails there, with cold, drizzly winters and temperatures occasionally dipping below freezing, this points to a season other than winter, thus excluding December.
So the choice of December 25th (which currently falls on the Gregorian January 7th in the uncorrected Julian calendar still followed by the Orthodox churches) may have been a compromise with paganism, or a co-opting of the pagan winter-solstice festival.  
Similar accommodations mark much of traditional Christianity, including the core belief in Jesus’ resurrection and divinity.  So this Christianity may be thought of as a confluence of Hellenic (more generally, Indo-Perso-European) cultural and religious outlooks, beliefs and customs with those of the monotheist Hebraic stream.
The latter may be represented, somewhat more faithfully, by current Orthodox Judaism and much of Sunni Islam.  Some Protestant branches of Christianity moved, during and after the Reformation, closer to these and away from Catholic and Orthodox (including Armenian, Coptic and Ethiopian) Christianity, as well as most other previously dominant Christian Church traditions.

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