Saturday, December 29, 2012

Feast of the Holy Innocents

The Feast of the Holy Innocents, also known as Childermas, is a high holy day in the liturgical church year set aside to remember the innocent boys of Bethlehem who were murdered by King Herod around the time of Jesus' birth.  Along with Saint Stephen's feast and the feast of Saint John, the Holy Innocents are honored during the season of Christmastide, or the twelve days of Christmas.   

The western church celebrates the feast on the 28th of December while much of the eastern church venerates the innocents on the 29th.  It is important to note that the universal church began to honor the memory of the slaughtered innocent sometime between the fourth and fifth century.  They did this not only to decry the senseless act of infanticide that Herod ordered and to remind the church that such atrocities should never be allowed to happen again under her prayerful watch, but to re-present the reality that there is always a cost associated with following Christ.


Monday, December 10, 2012

In Defense of December 25th

In the last several decades, much to do has been made of the Pagan origins of Christmas, which I hope to prove to you could be no further from the truth.  Arm-chair theologians who carelessly abstract their claims from hearsay and various Internet sites, often ignoring the primary resources and/or their proper contexts, often wrongly conclude that the advent of Constantine brought about the demise of the one true apostolic church, the introduction of pagan idolatry into the church, and the idolatrous celebration of Christmas.
 
Although many of the practices of our modern Christmas celebration do include pagan activities, which later crept into the holy day as a result of the Western Church's attempt to Christianize its pagan contemporaries, it is naive to think that the early church embraced these as part of their celebration of the nativity.  The earliest mention of the date for Christmas came circa 200 while the earliest documented celebrations came between 250-300 A.D., a period when persecuted Christians were intentionally distancing themselves from their pagan roots, not trying to mingle with them via syncretism.