Summary: The real story of Christmas includes CPR.
The Whole Surprising Story of Christmas.
How well do we really know the whole story of Christmas? Let’s start with this quiz… answer t or f.
1. There are no records of Joseph speaking in the Gospels. T.
2. Mary rode a donkey from Nazareth to Bethlehem. F. It very likely she walked, no mention of donkey.
3. Jesus’ ancestors included a prostitute, unfaithful husband, and an incestuous relationship. T Rahab was a prostitute, David was an adulterer and Tamar & Judah committed incest.
4. The star did not appear above the manger. T
5. The wise men followed the star as it moved from their eastern land to Israel. F.
Apparently not. The wise men saw the star in the east (Matthew 2:2 (quickview) ). But it did not take them to Jerusalem. In Jerusalem they asked for directions. Once leaving Jerusalem the star appeared again and led them to the house in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:9 (quickview) ).
6. The wise men found Jesus lying in a manger in the town of Bethlehem. F
7. Joseph married Mary immediately after the angel appeared to him. T
8. When Herod heard about Jesus he was the only one concerned about this new king. F
9. The angel Gabriel appeared to Mary first and later to Joseph. F we don’t know the name of the angel who appeared to Joe.
10. God sent a choir of chubby angels to announce Jesus’ birth to the shepherds. F
How did you do? 10 out of ten? How many of you got 9, 8??
Actually, did you know that there was no interest in the early Christian church regarding Christmas day celebrations? It was not until the time of Hippolytus, the Bishop of Rome, circa first half of the 3rd century that someone thought of celebrating Christmas. Wikipedia.org article on Christmas says this “In 245, the theologian Origen denounced the idea of celebrating Jesus’ birthday "as if he were a king pharaoh." He contended that only sinners, not saints, celebrated their birthdays.”
There is quite a bit of uncertainty why Dec. 25th was chosen. But it seems that the consensus view is the date was chosen to replace the pagan festivals Saturnalia (dec.17-24) and Brumalia (dec.25). According to the Encyclopedia of Religion (1964,p.165) the historical record shows church festivals began around the first half of the 4th century. That is quite late in church history. In fact this same source stated that the church did not impose that date to be the date for Christmas, rather it was born out of “elemental human qualities.” That is, this was a reaction of humans to the changing of the seasons, to celebrate the shortest day of the year, and it was continued by Christians with a new significance attached. It was done to Christianized pagan attitudes to reach an audience that was primed for something to celebrate in the shortest day of the year.