Birthday of the Sun
The fact that the most prominent holiday in the Christian yearly cycle is pagan in origin is relatively well known. Some Christian leaders argue for an abandonment of this pagan celebration while most observe this holiday and use the time as an opportunity to call attention to the message of Christianity.
Many churchmen justify the adoption of a pagan holiday with the argument that this was simply a historical circumstance. The expanding Church found that so many people were already celebrating this time, so instead of attempting to repress this celebration, the Church converted it from paganism to Christianity. The “conversion” of the holiday was achieved by artificially associating the Christian message with the observance of the holiday. This merger turned the commemoration of the birthday of the sun into a celebration that commemorates the birthday of the “son”.
Are these two celebrations really so different? If we look into the heart of the pagan celebration and worship we will see that no conversion was achieved. The Christian celebration is essentially just as idolatrous as the pagan celebration. The only change that was achieved was that the attention given to one idol is now turned to another.
The pagans chose their deities in the following manner. People would be inspired and overawed by various entities in the natural world. Be it the power and radiance of the sun, the mighty sound of thunder, the majestic beauty of a river or the magical appeal of the dark forces of the night. Instead of recognizing that these are but creations of the same Creator who granted us all the gift of existence the pagan would bend in submission towards the mysterious awe and majesty projected by these entities.
The heart of Christianity, in all of its manifestations, is the submission towards the aura projected by a certain human being. No one saw this person create the world and no one saw this person standing as a second person in a triune godhead. These were theories developed by hearts that were already bent in submission to the aura associated with the personality of Jesus.
The worshippers of the sun and the worshippers of the “son” are both engaged in the same type of worship. They are both allowing themselves to be overwhelmed by the attributes inherent in a fellow citizen of this universe.
The witness of the Jew is that everything in this universe and all of the majesty, beauty, mystery, charisma and holiness that these entities may possess are all but gifts from the One Creator who stands above and beyond all of nature while at the same time sustaining and nurturing every detail of existence. It is to Him, and to Him alone, that our worship is due. Not only our own worship, but even those entities that overwhelm men with their majesty, beauty, holiness and mystery, they too, owe all worship to the One Creator.
The day will yet come when everyone and everything rejoices in the worship of the Creator (Psalm 98:7). May it happen soon and in our days.
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal