This past week I’ve had the chance to view several Christmas themed posts. Some of the more interesting ones are Ryan Reeves’ short video on the history of giving gifts at Christmas. I generally chalked up gift giving as a way tangible way to remember God’s gift of giving his Son to the world, but Reeves has much more to say about this Christmas tradition.I also appreciated Thomas Kidd’s brief post about Christmas in the year 1776. The gist of it is that the things we get in a twist in during Christmas were not at all on the radar of those living in colonial America.
As someone who is a fairly organized person, I can appreciate a good list, and Andreas Köstenberger provides one for us in his post “Ten Things You Should Know about Christmas.” His list is a helpful reminder for all of us as we frantically go about buying and giving gifts, finding ways to make it through spending time with some difficult people (read some family members, coworkers, etc.), and racking up miles on the old automobile as we travel from town to town visiting some of the very aforementioned difficult people (We all have people in our lives that we have strained relationships with, if we’re perfectly honest.), to remember what is really the point of the Christmas season.
And finally, perhaps my favorite post I came across is an article on a Christmas urban legend: no room for baby Jesus in the inn. Most of us are aware of some common misconceptions about Christmas. For instance, the nativity scenes that we see pop up over the holidays includes the wise men (magi) and shepherds together at Jesus’ birth. However, the biblical narrative clearly teaches that the wise men don’t visit baby Jesus at the same time as the shepherds (Matt 2:1–12). It’s also possible that they didn’t visit him until much later. In his article, David Croteau exposes the urban legend that Jesus was born in a stable outside of the main residence because there was no room in the inn. The reason for this legend has more to do with our modern western understandings of what an “inn” is and a “house” is. David’s piece is not only a fascinating read about first century Palestinian dwellings, but also a helpful reminder for anyone interpreting Scripture about the importance of considering the historical-cultural background of a passage if one is to faithfully understand the text.