I learned the Christmas story when I was a child. Born at the beginning of year one on our calendar, in the town of Bethlehem, a virgin mother, on December 25, with the visits of wise men from the east that same night. I now have had the Christmas story deconstructed as an adult. First, Jesus was born sometime between 7-4BC. Second, not in the town of Bethlehem, more likely in his hometown of Nazareth. Third, the word we have translated as "virgin" is more accurately understood to mean "young woman." (Jesus had brothers and sisters, difficult task for a perpetual virgin). Forth, it was not December 25, empty stables mean it was good weather outside for the shepherds to be watching their flocks at night. Fifth, the wise men may have come to visit but it was likely when Jesus was nearly 2 years old, not a baby traveling that distance, on a camel, takes time.
I have grown a bit bah humbug over the years about the Christmas story. How does a person preach on Christmas Eve feeling like that? God delivered me yesterday. While I entered worship in a state of bah humbug, I left worship singing "O Come, O Come Emmanuel."
O Come Desire of nations bind.... All peoples in one heart and mind.... Bid envy, strife, and quarrels cease; Fill the whole world with heaven's peace.
The Christmas story need not be factually accurate to give us the hope we need. God intends to bind all nations in peace and bring the kingdom of God to earth. How will God accomplish this? Through us and our work. We are called by God to bring heaven's peace to earth. Yesterday I renewed my vow to transform our world into a place where every human being is treated with dignity and respect, where every human being receives the love of God through me and my behaviors. Bold talk for an old, fat man but that is the true meaning of Christmas.
Bah Humbug can wait, I have work to do. Merry Christmas to you all and thank you for taking time to read this and all our other blogs.