4. Chew On Some Grit
The Bible never shies away from the gritty realities of life. Christians do. But the Bible doesn’t.
There are parts of the Christmas story that don’t fit in the manger scene. Herod and his slaughter of babies in Bethlehem, for instance.
I don’t recommend traumatizing kids and grandparents on Christmas Eve with that story, but on a Sunday leading up to Christmas, a serious look at who Herod was is a great way to tell people why Jesus came to earth. Not to give us a lovely manger scene and a Christmas tree, but to confront and defeat evil.
Other gritty parts of the story can be gleaned from
- The people in Jesus’ lineage
- How Joseph protected a single, pregnant Mary from cultural shunning and punishment
- The Jewish struggle for freedom from Roman taxation and tyranny
- The low social status of shepherds in their society
- The historical context from between the Testaments
5. Connect It to the Bigger Gospel Story
Christmas is to Christianity what Hanukkah is to Judaism. Important, beautiful and worth celebrating, but not central. That’s why Matthew and Luke wrote 39 verses about it, Mark and John ignored it, but they wrote a combined 711 verses on the crucifixion and resurrection.
Disconnected from its historical context, Christmas sounds like a fairy tale. And without the crucifixion and resurrection, it might as well be. There’s nothing in it to save one soul on its own.
But when it’s connected backwards to the Old Testament need for a savior and forwards to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, it's not just pretty, it’s powerful.
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