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Christmas – The Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing but the Truth

December 27, 2014

I can remember being out camping when I was a Scout. We had some bacon that we were saving for the next morning. We’d kept it cool in the store tent, in a sealed box – we were really looking forward to bacon butties for breakfast before packing up. Well the next morning I got up bright and early, got the fire going, found the pan and the butter, then went to the store tent to get the bacon… and there was a woolly bottom sticking out. There was a sheep in the store tent. I shouted – it panicked and took off almost taking the tent with it. I looked in expecting to find the bread gone but the bread was OK, the few carrots we had left were untouched, but some how the sheep had opened the sealed plastic box, and had taken the bacon, wrapping and all! Did you know that sheep like bacon – that they will do anything to get it? Well I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it for myself. I can never look at those innocent looking woolly beasts without seeing a bacon thief in sheep’s clothing.

I’ve found that expectations can go badly wrong. Like my lovely fantasy of a bacon breakfast. That bacon story led me to look for more food horror stories. The internet can be a strange place. There are so many weird and wonderful things out here. I came across a few really disturbing food stories; gross stories. What was worse, they were stories with pictures. One was of a tin of Sainsbury’s baked beans with a mouse in. Another of a loaf of bread, again with mouse.

All of these stories are gross, but really not that bad. Not compared to the story that turns the Christmas story sour. We’ve had the wonderful story of Mary and Joseph and the little baby in the manger. I’ve seen lots of school productions with wise men bringing lovely gifts; they’re warned in a dream not to return to Herod so they trick him and leave by another way. That’s were the school nativity story ends. With Mary and Joseph, a young Jesus and lovely gifts – Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. Gold for a king, and Frankincense for a god. All good so far, then Myrrh for death and we don’t have to wait long for that!

When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. (Matthew 2.16)

It’s like a thriller – everything was going too well so something bad was sure to happen and it did. What a terrible thought, all those babies and little children under 3 – grabbed from their mothers and murdered by Herod’s soldiers. I just can’t even imagine the horror of it all. I have visited parents who have lost a baby or young child and it is utterly heart rending. They were ‘normal’ deaths but to have had lovely healthy little boys dragged out into the street and killed before your eyes – the pain and despair must have been so much worse – unimaginably worse.

Our lovely story has turned sour and I can’t help asking why? Why did those innocent children have to pay for this? It was God’s fault. Why didn’t he stop it? Then I calm down… just a little. I calm down enough to realise that it is this event and the struggle to get to Bethlehem before it that make this story real, not a fairy story. This is the real world and Jesus was born in this real world, for this real world: A world of joy and sadness.

 

Some people ask why God didn’t stop it. It is one piece of evidence used against the belief that there is a loving, caring God. But God was not responsible for the deaths of those little children, Herod and his soldiers were. It was Herod’s actions and the atrocity that followed that underline why God, a loving God, had to go to the extraordinary lengths that he did – he had to send His only son into this world of atrocities, to be part of it all, to die because of it all, then rise to defeat all evil.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like this ending to the Nativity story. I so want a happy ending – So much so that I play along with it all – I, like everyone else around, me mostly end the story with the wise men going home, good winning and Herod being tricked.

I like happy endings but when it comes to the very foundation of my life, my belief, my hope; not just for myself, but also for everyone I care about; then I can’t afford fairy stories – I need the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I need the truth even if it makes me weep.

There is a happy ending but it comes much later and there is a lot of joy and sorrow still to come between here and there – many, many twists and turns in the story yet to come. I’m going to move on soon and start to enjoy the Christmas celebrations again. But for a little while I will allow myself to taste a little salt before returning to the sweetness of Christmas joy…

The Cast for Christmas Reassembles for Easter (Steve Turner)

Take the wise men to the Emperor’s palace.
Wash their hands in water.
Get them to say something about truth.
Does anyone know any good Jewish jokes?
The one about a carpenter
who thought he was a King?
The one about the Saviour
who couldn’t save himself?
The shepherds should stand with the chorus.
They have a big production number –
‘Barabbas, We Love You Baby’.
Mary? She can move to the front.
We have a special section reserved
for family and close friends.
Tell her that we had to cut the manger up.
We needed the wood for something else.
The star I’m afraid I can’t use.
There are no stars in this show.
The sky turns black with sorrow.
The earth shakes with terror.
Hold on to the frankincense.
We’ll need that for the garden scene.
Angels? He could do with some angels.
Avenging angels.
Merciful angels.
He could really do with some angels.
Baby Jesus.
Step this way please.
My! How you’ve grown!

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