May 10, 2021

The Craziness That is Christmas

It’s that time of year again. Time for everyone to try to find something new to talk about because it’s all been said before.

Since most people understand not just the story of baby Jesus, but the idea of Santa Claus, etc. we get new takes on stories like the Grinch, news articles about substitute teachers telling their students that there is no Santa and articles about whether or not Jesus was born in a manger.

And though I haven’t seen many “War on Christmas” articles, we do have a lot of virtual ink spilled on First Lady Melania Trump’s red Christmas trees.

This year, I got to thinking more about what it must be like to be a preacher of the Gospel at this time of year. I mean, the Christmas story is probably the most popular story from the Bible. I am betting that more people have heard of the Baby Jesus in America than have heard the Gospel. So as a preacher, you’re kinda expected to preach this story, while at the same time it’s the most popular story ever.

I mean, the Peanuts actually cover this story:

I don’t know about you, but a sense of awe, excitement and wonder hits me every time I hear Linus give this speech, and it is the core of the Christmas story. Christ came, as a baby to die on the Cross for us.

[B]ut God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ [was born and] died for us.

Romans 5:8

This story is the beginning of the Gospel. So how does a preacher of the Gospel cover this? I asked this question to Twitter:

And this is the way that I’ve found pastors in the west to cover this story– by trying to find some unique angle by which to tell the story. There’s nothing wrong with this approach, and there’s definitely a lot to mine there, but I’m beginning to wonder if we should approach this season with more of an Eastern mindset.

In Robby Gallaty’s book The Forgotten Jesus I was introduced to the idea that repetition for learning is a hallmark of the Eastern way of teaching. It is a Western concept that we must constantly be finding something new((see the Acts 17 where the Greeks were looking to hear something new)). The Eastern concept is that we learn and adapt by repetition.

If we were to teach Christmas in the Eastern Tradition, we would repeat almost the same story– Jesus coming as a baby, fulfilling the prophecies, so that He would be the sinless lamb offered on a cross in our stead.

So maybe instead of trying to find something new, we should just tell that old story about the innocent baby that came to save the world and how that salvation is through faith in Him.

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