The Importance of Reading the Stories You Already Know… Part 1

Posted: December 12, 2015 in church art ministry resources
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Preaching around Advent is always somewhat daunting. The rest of the year, one has the entire Bible to choose from, but around Christmas, it can often feel as though a preacher is limited to four chapters, Matthew 1 and 2 and Luke 1 and 2. Then there is the realization that the people in your congregation probably already feel they know the story so well, it can be easy for them to disengage. The thing is, we don’t really know the story as well as we think we do. Over time, Christmas songs and other things have added to and fleshed out the story. As a result, some lines between fact and fiction have been blurred.

Then there is the fact that we know how the story ends and we take some things for granted, that are really quite extraordinary. For example, When the angel told Mary that she was about to become the mother of Jesus, her response was “May it be to me as you have said.” I don’t think we comprehend the courage this took. Mary was already betrothed (think of betrothal as a legally binding engagement) to Joseph. For her to be found pregnant by anyone other Joseph, the penalty was to be stoned to death in the doorway of her father’s house. Her agreement to go through with God’s plan was an act of radical faith. There are so many other aspects to this story, that really demand another reading, with fresh eyes. Try to put aside that you know how the story ends and read it as if you are experiencing it for the first time. You’ll be glad you did.

Now as a public service to you, I am going to give you the first half of a Christmas quiz I found in a Youth Specialties resource. This quiz is hard and I think it will help you see how much of this story we take or granted. Answers appear at the bottom.

Answers: 1. f., 2. false, 3. true, 4. e., 5. c., 6. f., 7. c., 8. f., 9. d., 10. c.


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