Thursday, January 7, 2010

Christmas Day?

Thursday after the Epiphany of Our Lord
January 7, 2009

The Lord be with you

Over the centuries the year has been divided up in many ways. We tend to think of twelve months as natural, but some calendars have had fewer months, and other calendars have had more. When a month begins and ends has also varied, as well as how many days a month has. Even weeks have been composed of differing numbers of days.

In some Orthodox Church bodies, they do not use the calendar most of us in the West use. Instead they use the old Julian calendar, without the modification made by Pope Gregory the Great (he is the one who added the ¼ day to each year). On the old Julian calendar, December 25 falls on this day, making it Christmas for them today. This will be the case until the year 2100.

So, to anyone who reads this blog, who might belong to one of these Orthodox bodies, Merry Christmas. For those of us who use the more conventional calendar used in the West, we can let this be a reminder that the Incarnation of our Lord is something to celebrate all year long.

The photograph is of a Russian Orthodox Christmas service.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert


  1. John,
    How would you say we should answer unbelievers (or just unchurched), who point out that "shepherds did not abide in fields" in January in Judea, or anywhere else, or that the Pope (or some early Christians) just wanted to capitalize on a pagan ritual to Mithra (?) which was held near the same time, and therefore draw more attention, and hopefully converts, to the new religion of Christianity?
    Thoughtfully inquiring,

  2. This idea of Christmas being selected to replace a festival for Mithra didn't occur to anyone for over 1700 years. It is in none of the writings of the Church Fathers as they argued for various dates. Isn't it cleaver of us to know what they were thinking, when they apparently didn't know themselves? As far as shepherds being in the fields in January, only someone from a cold climate can think that. Again the first century sources (and even the shepherds in that area today) are often in their fields in January. It just isn't all that cold (maybe 60's at night). Boy do I ever love original sources!