Thinking Out Loud

November 24, 2014

The Original Nativity Scene Probably Looked More Like This

Filed under: Christmas, music — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 6:14 am

This was composed and recorded by a very good friend of mine. Kick back for five minutes and consider what the scene at the back of the Bethlehem Inn really looked like those first few nights.

I have a little manger scene I unpack every year,
I put it on the mantle way up high
Safe from puppy dogs, little hands and wrestling adolescents,
Who might break a piece and make me want to cry.

I’ve had that little manger scene of china and of glaze,
Since I was just a kid of 4 or 5
For years and years I looked at it believing every line,
Cause it made the ancient story come alive

It makes me sentimental, Though I know it didn’t happen quite that way
A bit of poetic license is OK.

In my little manger scene Mary’s got blue eyes,
she’s dressed in silk and satin like a queen
Joseph’s beard is neat and trim, just like his fingernails,
And everybody’s handsome and serene

The swaddled baby’s smiling up at three wise men standing guard,
So noble, not a sunburn, wart, or frown
They’re hanging with the shepherds who are kneeling squeaky clean
on golden straw carpeting the ground

It’s all sleek and smooth and shining,
Tho’ I know it wasn’t quite like that, don’t you?
The truth is not quite so pretty, but it’s true

I bet Mary, she was saddle sore and Joseph couldn’t sleep
The wise men smelled like camels and the shepherds smelled like sheep
And the stable smelled like cattle and the things that cattle do
The baby woke up hungry every morning, half past two.

But our Mary, she’s no china doll, she’s a fighter through and through,
Joseph knows he has a job to do
There isn’t any stopping them, there isn’t any doubt,
Together they will see this journey through.

‘Cause she, she was a warrior, he was her strong right arm,
In a battle that they couldn’t comprehend
That baby was a treasure who would ransom all the world,
They’d carry him until he took his stand.

Even though Mary, she was saddle sore and Joseph couldn’t sleep
The wise men smelled like camels and the shepherds smelled like sheep
And the stable smelled like cattle and the things that cattle do
The baby woke up hungry every morning, half past two
And the straw got into everything, your shoes and in your hair
In the food and in the beds and on your nerves and everywhere

So if in my little manger scene, they look a little glazed
A bit of poetic license is OK.
Though I know it didn’t happen quite that way.

©2011 Ruth Wilkinson

 

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December 27, 2013

The Christmas Story in the Gospel of Mark

Filed under: Christmas, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:04 am

This is from Clarke Dixon, a pastor in Cobourg, a city about an hour east of Toronto, Canada. I actually got to hear the first message in this series, The Christmas Story in the Gospel of Matthew, and then at the end he invited his parishioners to read the Christmas story in the second gospel for the following week… Click here to read at source where you’ll also find puppet scripts for the skits that accompanied each sermon.

When I began this series “Christmas According to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John,” I invited the congregation to read through the story of Christmas as found in Mark. I could tell by some smiles that quite a number knew that there is no story of Christmas in Mark, no angels, no shepherds, no wise men, no manger scene, and of course no mention of all the traditions we tend to associate with Christmas. That a Gospel writer would miss entirely the Christmas story can be a good reminder to us that Christmas was not celebrated by the earliest of Christians with the same intensity we do today, much of how and when we celebrate being a matter of tradition rather than of obedience to the Bible. It also serves as a reminder that we ought not to think of the Gospels as “biographies.” A biography will often leave us inspired by a person while at the same time satisfying our curiosity by filling in the details of that person’s life. The Gospel writers will have failed in their quest if we find ourselves only inspired by Jesus, they instead want us to be committed to Jesus, and details can be irrelevant to that purpose. So Mark, likely the earliest written and definitely the shortest of the Gospels spares us the details and leads us straight to “The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mark 1:1 NRSV).

So does this mean that Christmas itself is not in Mark’s Gospel? Consider the following (I have included the passage below for easy reference):

  • Mark 1:2 points us to Malachi 3:1 which refers to the coming not so much of a Messiah figure but actually God Himself. That’s a very Christmasy thought!
  • Mark 1:3 points us to Isaiah 40:3, where again the way is to be prepared for God Himself to come. Again, here is the essence of Christmas, that this Jesus is “God with Us.”
  • Mark 1:4-5 makes reference to a lot of people involved in confession and repentance. If you knew that God was to be on your doorstop tomorrow in all His glory, how would you prepare? It takes neither a Bible scholar nor a rocket scientist to figure out that confession and repentance is best and most natural response to the news of God’s arrival. We see people doing that right at the beginning in Mark’s account and again you can hear that echo of Christmas: “God is coming to us!”
  • Mark 1:7 lets us in on the what John the baptizer knows – He is unworthy of the One who is to come. There is an incomparable greatness in the One who is coming which makes perfect sense if God Himself is that One.
  • Mark 1:8 has John saying that while he can only baptize with water, the One to come will baptize with the Holy Spirit. Who can do that but God Himself? Again, God Himself is coming to us.
  • Mark 1:9,10 points to Isaiah 64:1 where Isaiah prays “O that you would tear open the heavens and come down” (NRSV). Isaiah’s prayer is answered through the miracle of Christmas.

So is Christmas found in Mark? Yes, right at the beginning of his account where you would expect it! Mind you, if you read through the Gospel in one sitting you will have the sense that Mark would rather have us focus on Easter. While the earliest of Christians in New Testament times did not celebrate Christmas, or even Easter the same way we do today, they did celebrate Christmas and Easter – every Lord’s Day. Every Sunday is a special celebration! So Merry Christmas and Happy Lord’s Day!

Mark 1:1-11  NRSV

1. The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  2 As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, “See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way;  3 the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,’”  4 John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.  5 And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.  6 Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.  7 He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals.  8 I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”  9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.  10 And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him.  11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

December 19, 2010

A Social Networking Christmas

Filed under: Christmas — Tags: , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:50 pm

What if Jesus had been born into a world of internet social connection?  This is a clip from Igniter Media that was available for churches to buy a license to use this Christmas.     Very well done!

December 4, 2010

Baxter Kruger’s Christmas Song

Most of us think of Baxter Kruger in terms of books (see below) and a the occasional video clip, but apparently he’s also a lyricist.   I don’t know if the melody for this exists anywhere online, but I’ve had this in my file since before last Christmas, and then neglected to post it then…

Christmas Song

O Hear the Word Declared to You
©C. Baxter Kruger 1994

O hear the Word declared to you as He became a man
the Father’s passion ceases not for His eternal plan
Wake up and see the time is full the great exchange has come
the Son of God stands in our place the Father’s will is done

O look and see the ancient Son though rich became so poor
with our own poverty He fought and blow by blow endured
Wake up and see His painful wealth for this He came to be
the treasure of the Triune life in our humanity

O see our awful flesh embraced by Him who dwells on high
he plunged into our darkness to bring the light of life
Wake up and see amazing grace in flesh the Father known
to share with us within our reach the life that is His own

O Spirit grant with unveiled face that we this Man would see
and know His heart and soul and mind and share His victory
Inspire our empty hearts to run to this vicarious One
and give us fellowship with Him the Father’s one true Son

 

My Photo

About Baxter…
C. Baxter Kruger, Ph.D.
Dr. C. Baxter Kruger, theologian, writer and fishing lure designer is the Director of Perichoresis Ministries. Baxter is a native of Prentiss, Mississippi. He and his wife Beth have been married for 27 years and have 4 children. Baxter has degrees in political science, psychology and earned his Doctor of Philosophy from Kings College, Aberdeen University in Aberdeen, Scotland under Professor James B. Torrance. He is the author of 7 books, including The Great Dance, Jesus and the Undoing of Adam and Across All Worlds. He teaches around the world. He is an avid outdoorsman and holds two United States patents for his fishing lure designs. He is the founder and President of Mediator Lures.

November 28, 2010

James MacDonald’s “Merry Christmas” Comeback

This was sent out by Walk in the Word to e-mail subscribers this week:

I look forward to having a great time with a new response to ‘Merry Christmas’ or ‘Happy Holidays.’ When people say that to me, I will answer, “It’s a boy!”

You should try it out. These three words will help you point to Jesus and lead you into some great conversations with both believers and non-believers.

It’s so easy to forget that Christmas is about the fulfillment of prophecy: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given” (Isaiah 9:6). It’s a boy!

And the miracle of a virgin birth: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel (which means, God with us)” (Matthew 1:23). It’s a boy!

And the mission accomplished by this baby: “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). It’s a boy!

Why do I like this response so much? It’s God’s answer for the universal problem of sin in the world. It’s what makes it possible for me to look forward to eternal life. It’s what gives me the peace and joy so I can have a Merry Christmas. It’s a boy!

So try this response. It’s just one way to stay focused on the real meaning of Christmas.

~James MacDonald

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