Monday, December 25, 2017

Review your Christmas story

Children in a Christmas Tableau
Christmas tableau at my church. (Photo © V. Nesdoly)

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Luke 2:1-20

"And it came to pass in those days …" - Luke 2:2

One of the things I love to do as a writer is read and review books. So it's no surprise, I guess, when my reviewer persona kicks in as I'm reading stories from the Bible. Today I find myself reading the Christmas story—the story of how Christ came to earth, to Mary and Joseph—in that way. There is:

Setting: Author Luke is specific. This tale takes place within a certain time-frame, during Caesar Agustus's census, while Quirinius was governor of Syria. This story happens in a small corner of the Roman Empire—Galilee (Nazareth), then we move to Judea (Bethlehem) and a stable.

Characters: There are Joseph, Mary, a Baby, shepherds, angels.

Plot: Luke would be a master of flash fiction—telling a big story in a few words. We have the couple. She's pregnant. There is complication when they're forced to make a trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem right near the time she's due. We read between the lines—the labor pains starting, Joseph's desperate search for a place to stay in this census-crowded town. Yes! they'll take anything, even a stable. Just get Mary settled. The birth.

And then those unnamed shepherds, an angel appearance in multitude and glory, a special message and somehow they find that Bethlehem stable, that couple, that baby to deliver the angel's special words.

Point of view: Through whose eyes are we seeing all this? It looks like an omniscient narrator until we come to verse 19. There we find a hint of personal reaction and inner thoughts. It's Mary behind this story! I can just see her sitting with Luke, perhaps years from the event, telling him her memories, saying something like: I didn't know what it meant but it was amazing. "Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself" - Luke 2:19 MSG.

Fast forward to now—your life and mine. We also have stories of Jesus coming to us. Emmanuel. As the carol prays it: "Be born in us today"  ("O Little Town of Bethlehem").

What is the story of Jesus entering your life? What are the parts—the setting, the characters, the plot, the inner thoughts and wonder of God coming to you, touching you? This Christmas day, review it for yourself, tell it to someone else. Relive it and worship: "And it came to pass in those days…"

"O holy child of Bethlehem!
Descend to us we pray;
Cast out our sin and enter in
Be born in us today …
O come to us, abide with us,
Our Lord Emmanuel" - Phillips Brooks, "O Little Town of Bethlehem."

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked MSG are taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

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