Nativity Lecture 2022-3

Nativity hoopla is low key

The closest thing to a mall event in the Nativity story is the visit to the temple where the parents of Jesus meet a senior citizen named Simeon and an octogenarian  prophetess named Anna.  This series of events in the life of the young Christ tells us something about his relations with the law of Moses.  Judging from what he later thought about his relationship to Moses and the temple, we can see that his relationship to David was paramount, thus closing the circle of the genuine Saviour-King. It was unpopular for the king’s later interactions with the temple and the priests to be dramatic and surprising. Nativity connects us with all that really matters for all the people in the world, and yet the audiences of the Saviour-King’s passages in life are not large.

First access to Israel’s holy things

“And when the days for their purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord”

Luke 2:22, New American Standard Bible

Finale to Nativity

If we however keep looking at the birth stories we will not find very much, because there is little about the hospital in which he was born, the time of night he was born, the name of the physician, the hours of labor, and who actually witnessed the birth. Bringing the story along to where the “all people” are touched by the king’s arrival we look at the end of his time on earth.

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people;”

Luke 2:10,

From the house to the street

The usual Jerusalem crowd had  gathered to see a trio of executions by the Romans. At best, the representation may have included people from all over Israel. It was passover, and Jewish males, from all over the region were required to be in Jerusalem.  However, in AD 29, the interest in the public execution of Israelites was likely enhanced by the eagerness of the scribes, elders and priests who did not care how they achieved silencing the Nazarene.

The public execution of the Nazarene was part of the act that saved the world, though it was well attended was a private affair.  If we think that the Jewish identity we have been recognizing as exceedingly troubled and yet hopeful is not an inimitable glory we fool ourselves. Jewish identity and Jewish faith, Christian faith and Islamic faith need focusing.  They have all veered into their sectarian preferences.  They all say little about a common and uncomplicated submission of the people to a single Jewish King. 

Here’s to the few!

Nativity is the story about a king. Nativity is the story about a king who dares to show up among his own people, be one of them do the utmost to save them. People have joined that story to the seasonal Christmas and winter culture. Christ has nothing to do with any tree except the one he died on but Nativity is what Christmas is said to represent. So let’s agree that having a tree or mistletoe does nothing to unseat the simple remembrance of that great and joyous time when a handful of shepherds were told, upfront, in person, what God was doing on the planet. This exclusive club is hard to beat. You or I will never have the means to pay to get to be the first to be told where and how the incarnate God was going to make his appearance in the world.

The quiet Revolution rises

One might think that there was a case for saying that it would be well to leave it with a few, but though it is to a few that the announcement was made in the beginning, it is clear that the purpose is for the teaching of the Kingdom to spread through the world like yeast in the dough.I think it is extremely short-sighted to say that these things are not absolutely, and as soon as one finds them,  the supreme gems in our contemplation of the divine. God is love and peace and he is offering and sacrifice, of himself even.

What? No joy to the world?

Christmas time, Nativity pageants and winter activity festivals, give us hope that the Christ who came to Bethlehem as a babe did put the cherry on top of his wonderful life by becoming a lamb, as it were of the people’s exodus and sacrifice for sin as atonement, on the cross, and has sent the Holy Spirit to everyone who has trusted him completely for life and salvation. That is the Hope of the God with Us. There is no large crowd attached to our reception of the king into our hearts, as the song says ” let every heart prepare him room”. It is not some big public thing that one does in the crowd, in the theater or church.

Heavenly and earthly hoopla

We should not expect heaven and earh to have the same response to events, The residents are essentially different. The recognition and celebration of Christ coming to a single human heart has heavenly and earthly fireworks. The church gets ready for a baptism, and, we are told, “angels in heaven rejoice”

I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

Luke 15:7

Nativity is about what happens in the private moments of the heavenly-earthly family.