The Christmas Story


Contributing Writer
Pastor Shawn Hannon
Hope Lutheran Church Arcade, NY

I recently gave the crew at Ale House Church and our youth group a pop quiz. It was a True or False quiz testing how much they actually knew about the Biblical account of Christmas. I wonder how you’ll do. Take a moment to decide if the following statements are true or false.

  • Mary rode a donkey to Bethlehem.
  • Jesus was born in a stable because there was no room in the Bethlehem Inn.
  • A star appeared above the manger where Jesus laid.
  • The wise men were three kings from the orient.
  • The wise men presented their gifts to the baby Jesus.
  • There were animals present at Christ’s birth.
  • Angels sang heavenly chorus’ over Jesus at his birth.

If you answered false to all of them, you’d be correct. Mary did not ride a donkey 100 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem. The “inn” described in Luke was probably referring to a guest room in Joseph’s relative’s house. And the star that led the wise men wasn’t over the stable but Jesus’ home a couple of years later.

But fear not! (and for the record angels did say that) Not everything you’ve been taught about Christmas has been a lie. For us a child has been born. For us a son has been given. Jesus, the Word and the Light, has come to save his people from their sins. God is with us.

The rest of the details were added with artistic license. I suppose they’ve kind of been added the way we’ve added a lot of other things to Christmas. Candles and trees and It’s a Wonderful Life and spending and presents and debt… I suppose we add them because we need the setting to match the extravagance of the story. But we forget, that the when Christ was born it was actually pretty humble and quite basic. And yet it was still enough.
And I’m not saying any of those things have to go—although I think we can all make the case that some of the things we’ve done to Christmas should—but I am saying that all of those things need to be put into perspective. And if we find ourselves compelled to add to Christmas or the Christmas story, may what we add focus us on what really matters in the Christmas story. Christ is born. God is with us. And that is still enough. story. Christ is born. God is with us. And that is still enough.

For more inspiration and insights from Pastor Scott and Pastor Shawn’s past columns, please visit and click on the Faith Matters page. The Jamestown Gazette is proud to present our county’s most creative and original writers for your enjoyment and enlightenment.

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Pastor Shawn Hannon
Pastor Shawn is a 2010 graduate of the Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in Columbia, South Carolina, and he began his call at Hope Lutheran Church, Arcade NY that summer. While he spent four years learning and serving churches in South and North Carolina, as a Jamestown, NY native, Western New York has always been home. He is glad to be here. Pastor Shawn and his wife Carol Hannon met while attending SUNY Geneseo in the mid-2000s. They have enjoyed making their home together in Arcade with their daughters Quinn and Perry.   Pastor Shawn has a background in youth and outdoor ministry. He is a former camper and staff person at Lake Chautauqua Lutheran Center in Bemus Point, NY. He has also served camps in urban settings and oversees in Madagascar. In seminary he was recognized for gifts in Greek and New Testament, and in his senior year was recognized with awards in both Preaching and Biblical Studies. Pastor Shawn continues to emphasize the youth in his ministry, but not simply because they are the future church, but because they are the church of today.  He also enjoys working on service projects, and takes the role of planning meaningful and engaging worship seriously.  He loves helping people find ways to put their passion and energy to work making their community and other people’s worlds a better place. When he is not working at church, Shawn enjoys remodeling and construction projects around his family’s home.  But as busy as he gets, PS always has time for a quick nine (okay, 18) on the golf course. He enjoys playing sports of all kinds and fiddling with his guitar.