Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Christmas Wars

Well there are so many of those. There is the war about "the reason for the season".. There is the war about when to sing Christmas carols and songs (or what counts as a Christmas song--Frosty the snowman, Jingle Bells, Winter Wonderland and Sleigh Ride are winter songs having nothing to do with Christmas). There is the Santa vs. Christ debate (Happy St. Nicholas Day by the way). And then there is the biggie.

My sermon for Dec 24 morning service has the title The Nativity Story (Truth, Myth, and Faith). It will be a look at the story and how "true" it is. As it happens, I have been reading in a variety of places the last couple days debates about the virgin birth and the need (or lack thereof) to accept that story as true factual history. OF course this is an annual debate in many quarters, and seems to strike closer to the heart for some people than any of the other Christmas Wars.

And I have to wonder why. If we only had Mark and John for Gospels we wouldn't have any discussion of a virgin birth (and Paul is totally silent on the topic too). So why is a virgin birth essential for Christian faith to some people?

Personally I doubt the facticity of the story. I doubt it was actually intended as biographical data. I don't say there is no way that it happened like Luke describes it. I wasn't there and so I, and all the rest of the people involved in the debate, will never know. But in the end I don't see it as all that important to the rest of the Christian story. And I don't see it as important in the course of salvation history. Why do we keep fighting about it anyway?

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