I know I’m probably preaching to the choir here, but I felt that December wouldn’t be complete without discussing at least a little bit of the story of Jesus. While scholars are certain Jesus wasn’t born in winter, it is the time we chose to commemorate this occasion, so I will discuss it nonetheless.
THE GOSPEL STORY
The story of the “good news” , often call the gospel can be summed up as follows: Christ was born. Lived. Died. Resurrected. And is Coming Again. These are the basic tenets of Christianity.
The born part is the Christmas story. The account is in all four gospels : Luke 1 and 2; Matthew 1 and 2; John 1 and Mark 1. It is important to note that while there are differences in the gospels that they begin with the birth. I’m sure if I was entrusted with telling the story of Jesus, I might start with his miracles or maybe the resurrection. But the gospels begin with Jesus, the baby.
Matthew and Luke talk about the birth story in more detail than the other gospels. I mean Luke gives all the details, starting with how his birth was foretold. Matthew talks of the wise men who wisely avoided reporting to Herod.
To sum it up, Mary was in a perilous position. Joseph was a good guy. Baby Jesus was already most wanted in utero. And somehow they all made it as a family unit because it was the will of God.
I don’t purport to know a whole lot about God’s will because I think the whole point is we don’t know what it is. However, it is a strange story.
I didn’t grow up celebrating Christmas, coming from a family of old school Seventh-day Adventists. The first time I celebrated was with friends as an adult. And the first time I attended a Christmas service was with friends as an adult. Christmas was a spectacle.
And after thinking on it, the birth of Jesus was also quite a spectacle. A Virgin birth? Unheard of… highly unlikely in any age… the son of God? Oh really?! It just seems implausible and boy does the story continue in a weird way as well! Water into wine? Rose from the grave?
It is precisely the scandalous nature of the gospel that makes it so potent. It challenges the status quo. It breaks up reason. The idea is that what we see with our eyes is not all there is and that there exists a power inside of us that can change the world… and has already done so. That is the good news.