To resume the discussion on the birth stories, recall that I held up the two Gospel narratives found in Matthew and Luke, and encouraged you to reread them in the last few days. Hopefully, you had the time to do that.
At the end of part one, I posed a series of questions. Here are my assessments of those questions and my take on the noted differences.
- Does this discussion alter your understanding of the Biblical texts?
- What might you leave in and what could be set aside?
- Is this so much hair-splitting?
- What do you think of live nativities in front of churches or in church sanctuaries on Christmas Eve?
- Does any of these differences distract you from experiencing this great gift of God into our lives that we celebrate each year?
- Are you pulled now further into the mystery of our God and loving mercy of Jesus?
Now for my take on things:
- First, perhaps we do not need to hold them apart at all; but rather using the combined story to obtain a larger awareness of the wisdom and ongoing involvement of God in our world.
- I don’t have an urgency to pull out of, or add anything to the texts that we have. Perhaps I would want to ask the evangelists what else did they experience, what else was going on at the time? I’m convinced we have enough to make a decision about choosing Christ as our Savior. But there still is this little piece of me that would like to know just his one more bit of anecdotal information!
- Regarding depictions of nativity scenes, if we consider the iconography found I churches and cathedrals around the world, any means or media that tell the Gospel story is just fine with me.
Let me end with yet another question.
Of the creation stories in Genesis, one out of chaos (Gen :1) and the other from a verdant garden (Gen.2); which is your favorite telling? Why?
Now let’s return to the Christmas stories… Which of the birth stories, Matthew or Luke, do you most like? Why?
To return to my starting point of last Monday, don’t let go too quickly of the celebration of this Christmas season. May we take a bit more time to celebrate the wonderful gift of God alive, well and active in our lives.