There are lots of strings attached to Christmas. It can be a stressful time-Thereís buying presents, which of course means fighting through the ruthless Christmas crowds. Thereís the writing of hundreds of Christmas cards. Preparing the roast turkey can take hours. All these things have become beloved Christmas traditions, but itís still all a far cry from that little babe in a manger. But there are even myths attached to the biblical story itself. How many Kings came to visit Jesus? Well there were certainly three presents. Why do we call them Kings anyway?-thatís hardly accurate. Did Mary and Joseph really have to knock on half a dozen inn doors before they found a place? Well of course they must have done...it was Christmas!
The nativity story we watch played out by children every year is a clever amalgamation of the two nativity stories we possess-from Matthew and Luke. These two evangelists each had their own emphases and concerns which perhaps we sometimes miss. For Luke that little babe was the Son of God who came from the glory of heaven to the humble surroundings of a stable in Bethlehem, for the lowliest in society. For Matthew the opposite is almost the case. Here had arrived the Messiah, the Son of David, whose entrance was signalled by a bright star in the sky, and who was greeted by magi from the east. They brought this special babe gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Gold fit for a King. Frankincense for one who is to be worshipped. Myrrh for a babe who would die. And his death, of course, would mean the forgiveness of sins and the salvation of mankind. All this is the glorious truth of the Christmas story. And what a special story this is. What a special baby Jesus was.
A prayer attributed to R.L Stevenson
Loving God, Help us remember the birth of Jesus,
that we may share in the song of the angels,
the gladness of the shepherds,
and worship of the wise men.
Close the door of hate
and open the door of love all over the world.
Let kindness come with every gift and good desires with every greeting.
Deliver us from evil by the blessing which Christ brings,
and teach us to be merry with clear hearts.
May the Christmas morning make us happy to be thy children,
and Christmas evening bring us to our beds with grateful thoughts,
forgiving and forgiven, for Jesus' sake.