Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Nativity Christmas Story Retold Thru Unusual Questions



Artwork Adoration of the Wise Men by Bartolome Esteban Murillo


From Denny: This is the original Christmas story as told in the New Testament Bible from the Book of Luke.

Those of us raised in Christian denominations have grown up hearing these words to the point they may feel meaningless. One way to refresh your brain to really hear what is spoken - when you have heard it way too many times to the point your eyes practically glaze over and your eyes want to roll back into your head for a snooze - is, after each sentence, mentally ask yourself a question about what you just heard spoken aloud. It does make you think of more than one perspective from what appears to be so simple. Over the years I've actually made sure to bring note paper as I get great ideas to write!



The Nativity

From:
Luke 2:1-20

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child.

While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for see--I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger." And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!"

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us." So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.



Here's an idea of how to give questions to yourself from the text:

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered.

Just how big was the world then? Why was it important, beyond taxes, for the Emperor to know how many people lived in his kingdom? What were the implications of being registered versus not being registered, good or bad?

This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria.

Who was Quirinius and how did he get to be governor of Syria? How was he politically connected and what was he really expected to do for his position? Why was he chosen to be governor at this pivotal point in humanity's history? Why him? What was different or important about him?

All went to their own towns to be registered.

Do you ever wonder how many people really did not want the government to know their true town and so deliberately went to another for registration? Did people feel the same about privacy as they do today or did they have no expectation of privacy during Jesus' time?

Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David.

What went through Joseph's mind as he traveled to Bethlehem? Was he afraid of what was about to happen? Was he glad to see favorite relatives? Did he make plans to escape if needed? Had God been talking to him about an escape plan?

He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child.

Did he truly believe that Mary was pregnant by the Holy Spirit or did he suspect a lover or worse had befallen her? Did he regret remaining engaged to her?



While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child.

Was he concerned he and Mary were very vulnerable while she was having the baby and could not travel away quickly if danger appeared?

And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

What did Mary and Joseph think about having to take up residence in the barn with the animals since the city was so crowded and no hotel rooms were available? Did Joseph ever resent that as a person of royal lineage he was reduced to such poverty? Did he wonder what was God's reason for doing things this way? Why couldn't Jesus be born in a comfortable palace?

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.

Was it a cool night, how cold? What did the night sky look like that night so far away from the city? What do shepherds do at night; do they stay awake or do they lightly nap?



Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.

How shocked were they to be visited by an angel, the biggest one of all, the angel of the Lord, sometimes purported to be Father God Himself? Were they able to speak or were they too paralyzed with fear to respond? Did they truly understand the significance of the Visit?

But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for see--I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.

What was it like to try and wrap your brain around news like that in their historical and economical context? And then, after receiving such momentous news, just what do you do with it?

This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger."

Can you imagine they wanted to make sure they wouldn't get it wrong? What if they couldn't find The Child? God made that easy; just how many kids will you find living in the Inn's barn.



And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!"

What did that huge crowd sound like? Was it the most beautiful song they ever heard? What was the melody; did they harmonize? Did the shepherds faint briefly after this incredible energy surge?

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us."

Did they make the decision all at once together or did one decide and the others automatically sensed it was the right thing to do and the right timing as well?

So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger.

What was the atmosphere like when they arrived? Was there glowing light like nativity scenes depict or was it something else to tell them this was a special moment?

When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them.

Did the shepherds wonder if Mary and Joseph would believe their recounting of their experience out in the field? Were they afraid to tell them all that the angel had told them? How did they feel after completing their mission from God?



But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.

What was Mary thinking as she took in these words? How would any mother feel if she were told her first born son was the Savior of the World and a Messiah? Very heady stuff for the most balanced person. Did she wonder how Life would be different from now on and what the future would bring? Did she ever guess at this moment how Jesus' ministry on Earth would finish in only a few short years?

The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

How big of an emotional and spiritual high were these guys on after the angelic visitation and then as the first witnesses to a pivotal point in humanity's history of God's physical intervention in the affairs of man? How did these shepherds live out the rest of their lives? What have they been doing all these 2,000 years? Better yet, what has Jesus Christ been doing all these 2,000 years since He left Earth?


*** Thanks for visiting and have a great holiday season!
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