Saturday, 20 December 2008

Christmassy things

I was running out of Christmassy things to blog about. I decided to look for a bit of inspiration and came to the conclusion I would go back to basics. I took a look at the original story of the birth of Jesus in the Bible (King James Version since that is the one I was brought up on). It’s a long time since I read it and I was surprised by a few things.

Firstly, the birth of Jesus is only mentioned in two Gospels – those of Matthew and Luke. Secondly the whole story is covered by a handful of verses in each of them.

There is no mention of Mary riding a donkey. There is no suggestion that she arrived the night before she gave birth. There is no mention of a stable. According to Luke, Mary ‘wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn’. By implication a manger would have been in a stable or barn. But when the three wise men arrived Matthew’s gospel reads “And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.” What house? Herod was not the only one worried when he heard the ‘wise men from the east ‘ saying, ‘Where is he that is born King of the Jews?’ All Jerusalem was troubled with him. And where are the mince pies and Christmas tree?

What does all this mean? The answer is simple. The story is old and confused and unreliable. And much of what we consider traditional has absolutely nothing to do with the birth of Jesus. But none of that matters in the least. What matters is the magic that the story contains. A magic that has lasted 2,000 years and looks set to enchant for years to come.

Irrespective of the depth of one’s faith – and indeed, whether one has any religious beliefs or is of a different faith - the concept of a season of peace and goodwill is one that we all need.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Scriptor
    Thank you for taking time to comment on my blog and for linking to my Festive Ship post.
    I seem to have accidentally deleted some of the links, so sorry about that.


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