Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - December 24, 1915, Lethbridge, Alberta
VOLUME IX. LETHBRIDGE, ALBERTA. FRIDAY, DECEMBER 21, 1915 NUMBER 12 TO 0 UR READERS: THE HERALD WISHES AN OLD WISH, BUT NONE WE LESS SINCERE, A MERRY CHRISTMA CHRISTMAS By REV. CANON W. V. McMILLEN, of ST. CYPRIAN'S CHURCH, LETHBRIDGE. CHBISTMAS! THE CHILD FESTIVAL of both the civil and ecclesiastical year! New Years, Easter, Empire and Dom- inion Day fate all great festivals or holi- days that appeal to old and young alike. But Christmas is truly the child's festal day. The happiness and joy that every- where prevails in spite of sadness and sorrow, that may have come to us during the past year fills our hearts at this time, because of this very fact. And how universally this day is kept It is the one holi- day that every State in the Union to the south of us observes. The Day is observed- in all parts of the British Empire. Yea, one feels safe: in saying, that it is kept in all parts of the civilized -world. It is re- garded as a sacred festival by many of the Protestant religious bodies. By, the three great branches of the Catholic Faith, Anglican, Roman and Greek churches, it is observed by special services commemorative of the Sayiour's birth. And yet it has not always been so. There have been times in the history of Britain, even of recent date when it was forbidden. There have been-times in the early history of< the Christian Church when all branches of the Church were not so in accord as they are today. Many today think of this date, December 25lh, as the actual day on which the Christ was born. It will be said that many years ago today Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea. But that is not so. No one knows definitely :the exact date of the Sav- iour's birth. For centuries been a disputed point. But the consensus of opinion was for setting our present date as the time to be observed, feeling that one day should be set apart for commemorating the great fact of the incarnation of God. Perhaps a brief history of how this time was setlled may be of interest to our readers. i In the beginning of the fourth century, because of the division of the Christian Church in the observance of the birthday of Christ, Julian I, Bishop of Rome, appointed St. Cyril as a commission of one to make a thorough study of the different 'days that were be- ing observed and to report on the same to huh. This he djd and his report revealed the fact that it was be- ing .observed at many different times, some of them being January. 6th, April 21st and 22nd and May 20th, but that the day that was being kept by the largest number was December 25th. Julian then decided that he would instruct the Church to keep that day. Its observance hhs gradually been growing more in favor until now it is almost .universal throughout the civilized world. Now around this day many different customs have grown up largely being brought in from the cus- toms the' people previous to their acceptance of Christianity. In Scandinavia, Romp. Greece and Egypt it was customary to celebrate the winter solstice with great feasting and licentious revelry. When the people of these lands accepted Christ, the Christmas festival so filled in with their ancient custom that they-began to observe it with their usual festivities with the result that it eventually became a day of ex- cessiye feasting and debauchery. Such were the con- ditions that prevailed when Cromwell forbade'by act of parliament its observance in England. The law remained in force for twelve years but eventually was repealed and the observance of Christmas was res- tored to the nation. Among the many other customs that grew up around the Day were the eating of beef and the hang- ing up of 'the mistletoe, the singing of Christmas Carols, the decorating of the home and Church with evergreens and the hanging up of the slocking by the chimney side. But while these customs are ancient and carry us back in thought to our ancient fore- fathers in their heathen days to those who believe that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the Living God, Christmas speaks much more than merely of festiv- ities and joys. It speaks to us the message of heaven lo a sin-laden.world, "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish." Christmas Day reminds us of the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies of the final fulfillment of all prophecy dealing with the second coming of the Christ to judge the world. But while this revelation is brought lo our minds so thoroughly and perfectly each Christ- maslide, there is one phase of Christmas that appeals to believer and nonbeliever alike, it is the precipusness of childhood, made dear to us by the JBabe in the Manger. God might have revealed the salvation of the woild by a proclamation across the sky. He might have filled.the soul of some adult with the message of His love. But in His He hollow- ed the age of childhood and took upon Him the form of man and was born a Babe in the manger at lehem. And as the" influence of the Gospel of Christ began to spread throughout the world there spread also a deep appreciation and reverence for the age of innocent childhood. That age was lifted up from its uncared for state in the heathendom to its rightful place in the kingdom of mankind. So today as we approach the festival, we "leave aside-our ad- vanced and advancing years and enter into the-spirit of the day as little children. Our thoughts, our de- sires, our every aim is to brighten the season and to hallow it to the child, We who may be filled with the spirit of Scrooge dur- ing the year like him on Christmas Day, will throw aside our narrow, cynical, selfish spirit and become as a child for the sake of the child. It is for this rea- son that -'Christmas is so dear to1 the whole world. Children have taken their place in the economy of the human race. And this has been accomplished by the Holy Babe at Bethlehem. Christmas, the Children's Festival. Let us all endeavor to enter intq-ils true spirit. "For unto us a Child is born."