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.
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