I found a Christmas quiz on the Internet that may challenge some of our beliefs about that night in Bethlehem. Here are a few of the questions, see how many you can answer correctly! Answers follow the quiz.
- According to the Bible, how did Mary and Joseph get to Bethlehem?
D. Joseph walked, Mary rode a donkey
E. horse-drawn chariot
F. Who knows?
- What does the Bible say that the innkeeper said to Mary and Joseph? (Luke 2:7)
A. “There is no room in the inn.”
B. “I have a stable you can use.”
C. “Come back later and I should have some vacancies.”
D. Both A and B
E. None of the above
- Baby Jesus was born in a
- We don’t know.
- What animals were present at Jesus’s birth?
- cows, sheep and camels
- cows, chickens and donkeys
- lions, tigers, and bears
- the Bible does not say
- When did baby Jesus cry?
- when he saw the Wise Men
- whenever babies usually cry
- when the cattle started lowing
- no crying he makes
- How many wise men (or magi) came to see Jesus?
- the Bible doesn’t say
Answers: 1. F, the Bible doesn’t say. 2. E, the bible doesn’t even mention an innkeeper 3. D, we don’t know, the Bible only says Jesus was laid in a manager after he was born. 4. D. 5. B, he was a regular baby boy after all! 6. D. (are you sensing a pattern here?!) Magi is plural so there was more than one, but the Bible doesn’t say. Three gifts were mention in the gospel of Matthew so that is probably where we get the number three.
None of this really matters, does it? They exaggerated the story, we exaggerated the story, but none of this negates the fact that Jesus was born. We love thinking of that little baby asleep in the hay.
What is incontrovertible is that that little baby grew into a man who showed us how to live, how to love. For 2,000 years parents have been teaching their children of Jesus’s message of love and peace.
I think it would be safe to say Jesus had a message that withstood the test of time!
Fast forward to today. We have just experienced an unconventional campaign for President that has divided the nation. Your side, my side, his side, her side, families divided, political parties divided. There are many feelings swirling about, grief, fear, satisfaction, excitement as the new administration takes shape. How are we to sing of heavenly peace, how can we say “Merry Christmas” in the face of so much anxiety and uncertainty?
We don’t have to look any further than the baby asleep in the hay for our answer. We just have to look at Jesus’s life, look at his ups and downs and look at the conviction in which he preached his message of love and peace. He didn’t back down from that message even when faced with ridicule, even when faced with death.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you,” Jesus says.
If we believe Jesus, we have the gift of peace with us, within us, right here, right now.
We already possess his gift of peace, his rock steady, don’t back down peace.
The gift of Christmas this year then, is the reminder that we own this great gift of peace and that we can and should use this great gift to tame the clutter and anxiety of these times, to remind ourselves that we are God’s beloved, created right from God’s own heart. And when we need a reminder of that peace, (and we will) let’s think back on tonight, when we were together, when we celebrated the realization of the gift of peace together. Let this night, this night of Jesus’s birth be our touchstone when we need to be reminded of that peace.
I’d like to read to you now; a poem about peace written by Dr. Maya Angelou entitled “Amazing Peace”:
Thunder rumbles in the mountain passes
and lightning rattles the eaves of our houses.
Flood waters await in our avenues.
The earth quivers and swallows entire villages.
Snow falls upon snow falls upon snow to avalanche
over unprotected hamlets.
The sky slips low and grey and threatening.
We question ourselves.
What have we done to so affront nature?
We interrogate and worry God.
Are you there? Are you there really?
Does the covenant you made with us still hold?
Into this climate of fear and apprehension, Christmas enters
streaming lights of joy, ringing bells of hope
singing carols of forgiveness high up in the bright air.
The world is encouraged to come away from rancor,
come the way of friendship.
It is the Glad Season.
Thunder ebbs to silence.
Lightning sleeps quietly in the corner.
Flood waters recede into memory.
The quiet earth reminds us of Peace.
Snow becomes a yielding cushion to aid us
as we make our way to higher ground.
Hope is born again in the faces of our children.
It rides on the shoulders of our aged as they walk into their sunsets.
Hope spreads around the earth brightening all things
even hate, which crouches breeding in dark corridors.
In our joy, we think we hear “a whisper”.
At first it is too soft.
Then only half heard.
We listen carefully as it gathers strength.
We hear – a sweetness.
The word is – Peace.
It is loud now.
Louder than the explosion of bombs.
We tremble at the sound.
We are thrilled by its presence.
It is what we have hungered for.
Not just the absence of war.
But true Peace.
A harmony of spirit, a comfort of courtesies
security for our beloved and for their beloved.
It is Christmastime.
It is the glad season.
We clap hands and welcome the Peace of Christmas.
We beckon this good season to wait awhile with us.
We Baptist and Buddhist, Methodist and Muslim say “Come, Peace.
Come and fill us and our world with your majesty.”
We the Jew and the Jainist, the Catholic and the Confucian,
Implore you, peace, stay awhile with us
so that we may learn by your shimmering light
how to look beyond complexion and see community.
It is Christmas time, a halting of hate time.
On this platform of peace, we can create a language
to translate ourselves to ourselves and to each other.
At this Holy Instant we celebrate the Birth of Jesus Christ
into the great religions of the world.
We jubilate the precious advent of trust.
We shout, with glorious tongues “the coming of hope”.
All the earth’s tribes loosen their voices
to celebrate the promise of Peace.
We, Angels and Mortal’s, Believers and Non-Believers,
look heavenward and speak the word aloud.
We look at our world and speak the word aloud.
We look at each other and into ourselves
and say without shyness – or apology -or hesitation.
Peace, My Brother.
Peace, My Sister.
Peace, My Soul.