Now all of us who’ve been schooled know that these stories are more concerned with making theological points than historically accurate ones, which makes our job as preachers a bit more interesting.And then Stricklen goes on to apply the theological points to contemporary lives. Pointing out that Jesus is the candle that God uses to make darkness light she writes:
This world is not just a broken mess we should despair over and nonchalantly let run its crooked course. There are Josephs and Marys who take God’s risks. There are shepherds who don’t run away terrified but want to go see for themselves what in the world God is up to, running the risk of good folks slamming the door in their faces. There are high and mighty Zechariahs who finally get it after being struck dumb for awhile. We know these people. They are us.Jesus is portrayed as Light of Light and very God of God. Still, “risks” and “seeing what God is up to,” and “get it.” Without the reality and truthfulness of God’s story of his Son’s birth the out workings become so banal.
And Chris Glaser, on his blog, Progressive Christian Reflections writes about the birth of Christ, “Put yourself in the nativity story.” After explaining that most Catholics reject the social issues and doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church, but go to church for Christmas and Easter, Glaser states that is true of Protestants as well. He relates that to the “myth” of the nativity story, writing. “To me, myth is not a story that is untrue, but a story that carries a deeper truth that draws us in.”
So Glaser invites the reader into the story; asking, “Are you King Herod, fearful of losing power or privilege as God is doing a “new thing”? Or an Eastern sage enduring academic malaise, seeking a star of inspiration? A shepherd routinely going about your business when the skies seem to open up? A prophet crying in the wilderness?” He goes on, including Mary and Jesus, ending with these words:
Good to remember, at this time of year, that we hinder or help, blink or behold this nativity of God’s Word to us.But notice something here. Truth is missing and so is worship. Reality becomes only metaphor and our lives lose the transcendence of God’s truthful purposes. Additionally, the concrete and practical go missing too. For instance, Zechariah, who by the way was not high and mighty, but disbelieving, with his wife, experienced the very real birth of an unexpected son. They experienced his late night cries, his tummy aches, his first word and first step. They experienced his strange behavior and powerful preaching as God’s grace mingled with reality in his life.
And king Herod afraid of a “new thing?” This is more than banal, this is evil. That question ignores not only the reality of the virgin birth, the songs of angels, the bright star; it ignores the ultimate evil, rejecting the true King who came to die for the sins of humanity. Herod knew, the scribes told him, the Scriptures foretold:
But as for you Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for me to be ruler in Israel, his goings forth are from long ago , from the days of eternity. (Micah 5: 2)Herod did not reject a new thing; he rejected the Lord of glory. Herod did not reject a new thing he rejected God’s word and thought he could thwart it by killing the babies of Bethlehem. Ultimate evil doesn’t answer to make believe stories no matter how beautiful the stories are.
The truthful biblical story of the birth of Jesus which includes a virgin, a multitude of angels and a star, is the foundation for His perfect life, His death on the cross and His bodily resurrection. It is the foundation for lives lived in obedience and worshipful attendance to the wondrous King born in Bethlehem. God's truthful word is the meat of our story.