A Christmas To-Do List
What's at the top of your list this season?
Most of us have heard the Christmas story so many times that we think we know what it's all about, but the fact is we might have passed over some important pieces. If we look a little harder, we might find a whole new piece of the nativity scene that's been in the closet for years—never unwrapped.
You see, in Luke's gospel, the Christmas story is not just about one birth. It's about two births. Before we read about the birth of Jesus, we read about the birth of John. In fact, the surprising thing is that John's birth gets more coverage than Jesus' birth. John gets 24 verses, while Jesus only gets 21. If we just take Jesus' birth apart from John's birth, we don't really get the whole story. It's like reading the Lord of the Rings trilogy without reading The Hobbit, or teaching a kid how to throw a football without teaching him how to play the game.
If we're going to do Christmas right, we have to look at both of these births:
Now the time had come for Elizabeth to give birth, and she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and her relatives heard that the Lord had displayed his great mercy toward her; and they were rejoicing with her. And it happened that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to call him Zechariah, after his father. But his mother answered and said, "No indeed; but he shall be called John."
And they said to her, "There is no one among your relatives who is called by that name." And they made signs to his father, as to what he wanted him called. And he asked for a tablet and wrote as follows, "His name is John." And they were all astonished. And at once his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he began to speak in praise of God. Fear came on all those living ...
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Mark Mitchell is pastor of Central Peninsula Church in Foster City, California.