Christmas with Ann and Lynn
A Husband-Wife Conversation

Leafing Through His Story

By Ann Hutchison Tree

My house is peaceful and quiet; everyone's still asleep. It's 6:30am, and I'm wrapped in a fluffy robe.

Time with Him. Ahhh.

I know us SUMites love our time with God, and many of us get up early to have it.

Well, I mentioned in my last post that today I would share how I connect with the story of the birth of Jesus. So here goes. But to tell the story I need to backtrack:

A few years ago, a colleague who had left his faith told me the Gospels were 'inconsistent with each other'. He suggested that because of those inconsistencies the Bible was not inerrant. I was reasonably new to my faith at the time, and I didn't particularly mind him telling me that. I thought "If he's right, then I should take notice." My primary concern was truth, and I didn't mind where that took me. So I investigated.

Were the Gospels inconsistent? I pulled them to me: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, and I read them, event by event, side by side, from start to finish.

I didn't find them to be problematic. Instead, what I found was that they each provided a different piece of a puzzle. In any given story about Jesus, there are one, two, three or even four descriptions of the event (e.g., his crucifixion), and different things are highlighted in each Gospel.

The same is true with the birth of Jesus. We have different Gospel accounts that describe his birth, and we can pull them together like detectives to reconstruct a scene, a testimony, a story.

I love doing that with the Gospels: Pulling all the pieces together to reconstruct a particular story. Have you ever tried that? It's fun! 

A few years ago, then, I reconstructed the nativity story using the Gospels to determine the order in which things happened. Every December since then I have read the story in this particular order. I sit by my sparkling Christmas tree on an early December morning, morning after morning, and I read the story ... Sipping tea, and thinking about how amazing it was that God came to earth.

Fully human; fully God.

As I read, I do this:

  • I highlight in the scriptures any phrases that tell me who Jesus was, or what he was about.
  • I notice the things that were spoken about him by people like Simon, or Anna the prophetess in the temple.
  • I ask myself why we are told about his lineage twice, and why those two lineages are different. I wonder what it is God wants us to know.
  • I think about John the Baptist and what his purpose was.

And so on, and so on. It is such a rich story, I will never get bored of reading it.

So now, my friends, here's my order of reading the nativity story, and perhaps you might like to follow along with this reading plan sometime?

Luke 1:5-80: The story of Elizabeth, Zacharias, and Mary

John 1:1-14: The story of the Word becoming flesh, and John the Baptist

Matthew 1:1-25: The story of Mary and Joseph

Luke 2:1-40: The birth of Jesus

Matthew 2:1-23: A short time afterwards, the wise men, Herod's attack and the family's flight to Egypt

Well, ENJOY the nativity story!

What does it mean to you? What are you longing for this Christmas?

I'd love to hear your heart.


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