And so it is Christmas.
And so it is Christmas. Or Mid-winterval , Or Winter-fest?
The PC brigade called it Mid-winterval so as not to upset the minorities within the UK. Yet they go overboard indoctrinating children in any form of religion, other then Christianity. Then again it is all right as Marx said, “Religion is just the opium of the masses”. The nature of the game is to control the masses by any means possible. The Romans did it with their arenas and games. We do it with strictly and other entertainments
Probably the best alternative name for Christmas is Winterfest, has Winterfeast/fast. Yes this was a pagan ritual which did several things it celebrated the ending of the long winter nights and coming of spring. It also gave people a reason to come together and share what was left of food stores. Kill off and preserve animals that could not be fed [not enough fodder for them] so all had a good meal [feast] before the hungry months [fast] and things began to grow and life got easier. Hence the celebration of spring [another pagan ritual] now known as Easter.
Yes Christianity adopted both these pagan festivals for its own purposes, Christmas [Christ Mass- or Communion] celebration of the birth of Jesus. Easter marking Jesus’ death and resurrection.
Yes I know the exact date of Jesus’ birth is not known. Indeed it is only mentioned in two of the four gospels. Plus whilst Muslims, and other sceptics, say that Jesus only fainted and did not die and went on to live a quiet life somewhere with Mary Magdalene. Hence all the books written to disprove the events.
But, never mind, the main thing Jesus did live, the Quran acknowledge this fact, it also accepts that Jesus was taken to Egypt.
That’s my preamble, now on to the subject of my blog;
Jesus spent is formative years in Egypt, when he was taken there as a babe to escape King Herods wrath and the killing of infants [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massacre_of_the_Innocents ] Again this is in dispute as it is only mentioned in Mathew’s Gospel? The next mention of Jesus is when he visits the temple in Jerusalem with his family [probably his Bar Mitzvah http://judaism.about.com/od/lifeevents/a/whatisabarmitzvah.htm ] Again he disappears from history till he starts his ministry to the Jews in Roman occupied Palestine. Where his ministry/teachings upset the Jewish Sanhedrin [Parliament/Authorities] leading to his death.
The last site on the first page as a summary of his “Sermon on the Mount” well worth a read for both Religious and non-religious alike.
Sermon on the Mount:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matt. 5:1-12)
In my opinion the main influence on Jesus’ life was his upbringing In Egypt. Whilst he was Jewish, educated in the Jewish tradition. He also learned a lot from the Egyptian life. Egypt at this time was a province of Rome, has Palestine was. It was also a cultured country and relatively advanced for it’s time with a recorded history going back 1000’s of years.
Unfortunately as well as being a country that once ruled a vast empire. The Northern and Southern Kingdoms, with Pharaohs, who were deemed to be God’s. They also ruled most of North Africa, Mesopotania [most of what we now know as the Middle East. They found out that whilst they appeared invincible and permanent. Nothing is neither invincible, nor permanent created by man.
First they fell to internal struggles within the Pharaohic Dynasty [a bit like the Saudi family now] then the Assyrians conquered Egypt. Next came the Persians who extended their rule by taking over Egypt’s remaining lands and also most of what we now know as Greece and Turkey. The Persians were then pushed back and conquered by the Greeks [or to be honest Alexander the Great, who was a Macedonian] who went on to take over not only what was the Egyptian Empire [founding Alexandria] took over the entire Persian Empire up to parts of India.
Again Internal struggles on who had what, and ruled what, led to the Alexander’s Empire shrinking. Next on the Scene were the Romans, who from a city state, expanded to take over most of what we know as the European Union [EU], North Africa, Greece/Turkey and the Middle East. But lost control of what was the Persian Empire.
So by the time of Jesus, Egypt had been conquered many times by many different cultures and in this process had absorbed all these cultures within it’s boundaries. Jesus in his time of growing up in Egypt absorbed all these cultures, yet retained his Jewish identity.
Again IMHO, when he returned to the land of his birth and grew up reaching what for that time would be seen as middle-aged [30 years or so] he started his ministry or teaching, based on his early life in Egypt and his life in Roman occupied Palestine.
Probably the most important things that he had learned, Empires and Emperors come and go. Leaders do not always lead in the best interest of the common man. Most are usually selfish and look after themselves and immediate family and friends. Whilst the common mans life is very rarely changed whoever is in charge. Also his Jewish teaching taught him that God was the creator of the earth and mankind. Also by his readings of the Torah that God was a just God setting down simple rules for mankind to live by [the Ten Commandments] the rest of the Laws were mainly laws imposed by religious leaders who said “God told me this or to do that, or I had a dream/vision that God said this, or that”. But being in charge, and having the power, and determination, imposed these rules on the many, first by persuasion, if that failed by force.
Hence his summing up of ALL the laws into a simple sentence. “Love God with all your Mind, Body and Soul. Also to treat your fellow man as you would like to be treated yourself. Less then twenty five words, which sum up the Ten Commandments and all the law books in the Torah.
In his ministry of some three years, through his parables, through his deeds and by his example [he did not raise an army, nor use violence to impose his will on others] even to dieing for his beliefs.
For many Christians Christmas means several things. A time to remember Jesus’ birth and life. To use the time over Christmas to reflect on our life gone past and how we should live in the future. Knowing that whilst God will judge us when our time comes, God his both just and compassionate and excepts us for what we are, frail, fallible human beings. Though made in his image fall very short of God’s ideals.
Also we look forward to rereading one of the four Gospels, which details Jesus’ life and teaching and in thinking about these teachings between Christmas and Easter. Easter, which marks not only Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice, but gives us a second chance to make a new beginning. That is IMHO what make Jesus special, “he gives us all a second chance,”
Happy Christmas and hopefully a more peaceful and just new year to all.