December 18, 2006

Looking Forward to December 24, 2006 -- 4th Sunday of Advent

The Scriptures for the Morning Service will be:
  • From the Jewish Scriptures: Micah 5:2-5a
  • From the Gospel: Luke 1:26-35
  • Responsive Reading: Luke 1:47-55 (VU p. 898)
  • From the Gospel: Matthew 1:18-25

The Hymns will be:

  • 9 People Look East
  • 62 Once in Royal David's City
  • 48 Hark the Herald Angels Sing
  • 35 Good Christian Friend Rejoice

The Sermon title is The Nativity Story (Truth, Myth, and Faith)

Early Thoughts:Every year people have a great debate about the "truthfulness" of the Christmas story. In fact, one of the five fundamentals of fundamentalism is to believe in the historical reality of the virgin birth (the other 4 are the inerrancy of Scripture, "blood" atonement, bodily resurrection of Christ, and that Jesus will come again). But is that even the point of the story? Is it really the point of Christmas?

It is my belief that people have largely forgotten (or have never been taught) that truth and fact are not neccessarily the same thing. This appears to be especially true where Scripture is concerned. Some people have invested so heavily in the belief that Sripture is, in some very literal way, the exact Word of God that to talk about Scripture stories as anything other than historic fact is very threatening. This has shown up frequently on in the discussions on WonderCafe. AS a result they claim that to question the historicity of th birth naratives is to toss out any reason for Christmas at all--or even to collapse the whole foundation of Christian faith.

But there is another viewpoint. Truth doesn't have to mean factually accurate. Truth can often be told through mythic stories as well as, or even better than, through attempts to be historically accurate. It is my belief that this is what we see happening in the birth narratives of Matthew and Luke.

Of all the writers in the Christian Scriptures only Matthew and Luike find it important to discuss the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. That alone may suggest how (un)important the event was seen by the early church. And those two stories are totally different. They describe a different set of events and have a different geography. They can not easily be made into one story and yet remain faithful to the text.

Please join us this Sunday as we look at the birth narratives, at what may have helped shape them, and how they show us the inter-relation between truth, myth, and faith.

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