If you’re of a certain age, you probably remember Paul Harvey. He was a radio commentator who would begin a story and then go to commercial break. After the break he’d tell “the rest of the story,” which would put an entirely different spin on the original tale.
Back in December, I had the opportunity to preach the Christmas sermon. Yawn… What hasn’t already been said too many times? I started thinking about the “rest of the story.” The parts of the story we almost never tell or even think about.
For example, did you ever wonder about the traditional version of Christmas? We sing “Silent Night” and “Little Town of Bethlehem” and “the little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes.” Really? We have a pregnant teenager and her caught-off-guard fiancé in a shame/honor-based culture navigating an unplanned pregnancy. We have Joseph’s relatives in the noisy, overcrowded little town of Bethlehem turning them away to avoid any association with the shame. We have the humiliation of the Son of God being born in a stable and laid in a feeding trough. When we don’t understand the deeper aspects of Christmas, it’s easy to commercialize it and just turn it into a party time. Maybe it’s time to consider the rest of the story.
A Great Resource
One of the resources I used and highly recommend is A Not So Silent Night: The Unheard Story of Christmas and Why It Matters by Verlyn D. Verbrugge. He gives us the rest of what has become all too familiar a story. He delves into the parts of the story we usually don’t think about or talk about. Parts we probably haven’t known about. He provides more accurate historical background information to supplement or even contradict the familiar stories.
He starts with the premise that Jesus was born to die. A thought we prefer to gloss over as we celebrate the joy of the season. Then he shows how the first Christmas was the beginning of war, not peace. 1 John 3:8 says, “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.” And of course, the devil was equally committed to destroying the Son of God and his works. The birth of Jesus was a declaration of war. And all that surrounded that birth was part of the warfare.
There’s so much more to Christmas than we usually think about. This book will start you thinking.
I delivered my sermon and the next day I came down with Covid. Thus, the lateness of this post. But I wanted to share it with you, even if late. If you’d like to listen to my Christmas sermon and hear the rest of the story, you can find it here.