Merry Christmas, one and all! I suppose it’s required that all preachers, teachers and wanna-be writers like me focus on the birth of Jesus this time of year, so here’s my contribution.
Only the Gospels of Matthew and Luke tell the Christmas story. When my children were growing up, we always read Luke chapter 2 on Christmas morning. There’s something holy about reading about the birth of Jesus by the light of the tree before a single present is opened. It will always be a most treasured memory for me. I can close my eyes and still hear their sweet young voices as they read,
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.
4 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. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
The other folks starring in our Christmas play are the Magi, or Wise Men. Matthew 2:11 tells us,
On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
Here are a few things you can use to wow and amaze everyone at your company Christmas party, in no particular order:
Fun Christmas Fact 1: Nowhere in the Bible does it say angels sang. It says, the angels SAID.
However, it doesn’t say the angels DIDN’T sing either. They might very well have! Please don’t spoil everyone’s Advent service by yelling, NO THEY DIDN’T! in the middle of “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” (which by the way just came on as I’m writing this and I’m singing right along!)
Fun Christmas Fact 2: There are no female angels mentioned in Scripture. The only two angels with actual names (Gabriel and Michael) were men.
Fun Christmas Fact 3: Angels didn’t have wings. They were mighty warriors who protected children and spoke to people in dreams, announcing important news from the Lord.
Fun Christmas Fact 4: Mary is frequently riding a donkey in Christmas movies. The truth is, she probably walked.
Fun Christmas Fact 5: The innkeeper always gets a bad rap for turning away a young girl in labor, but there is no record of him at all! We don’t know how Joseph and Mary knew all the hotels were booked. We just know there was no room for them.
Fun Christmas Fact 6: No animals or stable are mentioned. We really don’t know where Jesus was born. The only place Mary could find to lay her newborn was a manger, a feeding trough.
Fun Christmas Fact 7: Most biblical scholars think Jesus was probably born in April. No December 25. No snow.
Fun Christmas Fact 8: The only people there that night besides Mary and Joseph were the shepherds. The Magi didn’t find a baby in a manger with Mary and Joseph. They found a child in a house. Jesus was probably two years old by the time they followed the star and found him.
Fun Christmas Fact 9: We don’t know how many Wise Men were there. We assumed there were three since they brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Could be there were many and only three brought gifts. Or maybe one brought them all and the others stood there empty handed and awkward!
We won’t even DISCUSS Santa, Rudolph, Frosty or any Little Drummer Boys. I think I’ve upset everyone enough for one day.
Don’t worry, y’all. You don’t have to boycott Christmas plays, throw away your Nativity Scene, or stop watching Santa Claus is Coming to Town. It’s not my intention at all to get us to change our Christmas traditions. That would be missing the point of the season. We need a reason to focus on family, charity, love, hope and joy. I personally love the time of year we celebrate Christmas. I need something to distract me from the cold and dark! We don’t need to throw out Baby Jesus with the bath water!
Lest you think I’m Ebeneezer Scrooge, here is our manger scene displayed in our living room as we speak.
Take a close look! The angels are girls and they have wings. Barnyard animals in the stable. I might add more — I’m a big animal lover. Three Wise Men. There’s even some random dude playing the bagpipes. I let him stay because I don’t think anyone should be alone at Christmas.
While we celebrate the birth of Christ, we also celebrate culture and tradition. We don’t have to lose the wonder just because we’re grown. May you have a blessed Christmas season, and may your heart overflow with love and joy.
Christmas — that magic blanket that wraps itself about us, that something so intangible that it is like a fragrance. It may weave a spell of nostalgia. Christmas may be a day of feasting, or of prayer, but always it will be a day of remembrance — a day in which we think of everything we have ever loved. ~Augusta E. Rundel