From Jim O'Brien
November 18, 2016

Hi Friend,

The Birth of Christ

In the year 2000, just sixteen short years ago, a group of 2,500 Catholic clergy gathered in Jerusalem to observe the birth of Jesus Christ. While that in itself is not particularly noteworthy, or even that it took place at the beginning of the third millennium, it may surprise you to know that they gathered in early October. The occasion was the Feast of Trumpets and these two and a half thousand theologians believe that Jesus was born, not on December 25th, but during the fall season at the Feast of Trumpets.

There are some things God seems to have hidden from man, maybe because it is not significant. Or maybe God wants to focus our attention on something more important. The Bible doesn't say exactly when Jesus was born. We know that the shepherds were out in the fields watching their flock when the angels appeared to them with the announcement of his birth. Shepherds don't typically spend the night out in the fields with their flock during the winter.

There is another significant factor to consider. Man was far more connected to nature in 4 B.C. than we are in 2000 A.D. It's a small percentage of people that are vocationally tied to agriculture today compared to those who inhabited the earth when Christ was born. We pay far less attention to the weather than our ancestors. We go to work whether it's winter or summer, rain or shine, or even daylight or dark. Thomas Edison's invention changed the world. I doubt that people in Jesus' day would understand the term third shift.

An example of this cultural difference is found in 2 Samuel 11:1 where the writer says, "In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war...." What does he mean? He is saying wars weren't often fought in the winter, when the weather could be harsh and unpredictable. Even we can see a certain amount of logic in waiting until the weather was less threatening. Nature could present a more formidable adversary than the opposing army. Lacking the benefits of modern technology those men were far more subject to the elements, thus they avoided exposure to freezing seasons.

Returning to the subject of what time in the year Christ was born, there is that statement about the census. Caesar called for people to travel to their home region to be counted and taxed. "In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child." (Luke 2:1-5)

If soldiers aren't sent to war in the middle of winter, neither does it make sense that the king would summon families with children to travel during the winter. Remember, they weren't riding in heated cars. Husbands, wives and children were walking from one town to another to comply with the king's demands.

Every time I see a live outdoor nativity scene during freezing weather it makes me wonder. Are there any sheep ranchers participating? Or expectant mothers? If so, they must realize that no shepherd worthy of the name would have been spending the night out in the winter weather 2,000 years ago. Neither would a father take his expectant wife on a trek through winter snow to be counted in a census.

Maybe those 2,500 Catholic clergymen are on to something. Both logic and scripture seem to support them.

Until next time,

Jim O'Brien