The Christmas Story

Where does our beloved Christmas Story come from, and how do we celebrate it? Today I gave a Banquet of the Word Presentation briefly outlining the liturgical season of Christmas and the sources for the story of Jesus’ birth as we usually hear and tell it. It may be a surprise to find that not everything is in the Bible and that even the Gospels don’t always agree with each other on significant details. But all together, the sources of our Christmas Story paint a picture that is rich in meaning from a variety of wonderful perspectives.

Five years ago, I gave a three-evening series at Good Shepherd in which I covered “The Christmas Story in the Gospels” in great detail, along with notes and handouts. Here they are:

Session 1, November 17 and 19, 2012:
Background on how to understand the Bible:
the New Testament, and the Gospels.

Notes for Session 1 – You can follow along with my presentation notes / handouts.

Infancy of Jesus in the Gospels (parallel texts) – This set contains all the relevant Gospel texts in parallel format for easy comparison.

Part A, before the break.

Part B, after the break.

Session 2, December 1 and 3:
Particular characteristics of Matthew and Luke: walking through the two Gospel accounts.

Notes for Sessions 2 and 3

Part A, before the break.

Part B, after the break.

Session 3, December 15 and 17:
The Genealogies of Jesus in Matthew and Luke;
Apocryphal Infancy “Gospels”; How St. Nicholas became Santa Claus

Part A, before the break:
Ancestors of Jesus and Apocryphal “Infancy Gospels”

Part B, after the break:
How St. Nicholas became Santa Claus

Be sure to visit St. Nicholas Center: Discovering the Truth about Santa Claus

Featured image: One of the most ancient depictions of the birth of Christ, a stone relief carving discovered on the Greek island of Naxos, depicts the infant bound up in swaddling cloths, with both the ox and the ass watching over him in worship. What are those strange trees? One researcher identifies them as pine and oaks, and teases out their meaning in a lengthy essay, “Christmas trees from the Garden of Eden.” It’s worth reading.

A Blessed Christmas to all,
and a happy, healthy, and holy New Year.
Pray for peace and respect for life – all life.

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