This Christmas editorial from December 20, 1969, was written by Edwin V. Hayden, who served as editor of Christian Standard from 1957 to 1977.
By Edwin V. Hayden
We observe, without being greatly disturbed by it, a growing tendency for Christmas to be observed as a season rather than as a day. For many it is a season of merchandising and merriment, merely extending what they have always done with the day. For Christians it is a season for becoming acquainted with Christ, and the more greatly that is extended, the better!
It is hard to pinpoint Christmas, even as a midwinter festival. For our brethren in Australia and South Africa, it comes in midsummer; and for those who vacation in tropical or subtropical climes, it becomes an escape from winter.
It is at least equally hard to tie the observance of Jesus’ birth to any one day. No one day is big enough to include the marvels of angel visitations to Mary and to Joseph, declaring the nature of Him who was to be born the Son of God. Neither is any one day long enough to include the honor bestowed by Wise-men visiting the young child some time after His being taken to the temple for the ceremony of purification (Luke 2:21, 22). The coming of God’s Son to earth is an event of the ages, not to be limited to the vital statistics of a night in Bethlehem and not to be comprehended in a day.
On what day of the year was Jesus born, anyway? Who knows? We are not aware of any serious suggestion that it was December 25, when, as we are told, grass would be lacking and temperatures too cold for shepherds to be “abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night” (Luke 2:8*). These conditions are said by some to point to a probable date in October; some say it was in the spring; but even the most confident theorist cannot name the day. So, accommodating the observance to a festive season, the gospel facts are declared traditionally in December, without suggesting any firm connection between the event and the calendar.
Divine wisdom may even have directed the uncertainty! If Scripture had recorded the day and the hour of Jesus’ birth, think what volumes would have been written by the astrologers to account for all His doings; to conjure up other doings entirely unknown to Scripture; and perhaps to controvert the clear Biblical record!
The central question, of course, is not when Jesus was born, but whether He was born as the Gospels declare. The time is left a question without an answer; the fact is affirmed as testimony without question.
Let it always be thus affirmed. Let the word of prophets be recalled; let the hearts of Mary and of Joseph be searched as Luke and Matthew have searched them; let angelic heralds be heard; let the rejoicing of shepherds and the devotion of Wise-men be shared; let the explanation given by John the apostle and the testimony of John the Baptist be received (John 1). These add up to the declaration of an event of such measure that no one day and no one season can contain it; but it must become material for preaching of the word in season and out of season for a lifetime. And if questions still remain, eternity will provide the answers!
*All Scripture quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible.