Monday, October 18, 2021

How can the biblical story of the Nativity shape our lives today?

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By David James Todd and The Festival of Unruly Stories

As I have mentioned many times to my disciples during readings of this column, during uneventful and monotonous stretches of summer, there is an actual market for nostalgia. We can re-live certain summer of years past with the desire to relive the weather, the season, the buddies we used to hang out with, the lines at the pool. It is a global market and, depending on where you live, what the holiday season might bring, it is a simple matter of waiting for the common moment to introduce yourself as one who is who we know you to be.

Some of the best activities of all time are also, by definition, temporary. Just like with so many of the things that make up our lives; some days and sometimes nights are good, some days are not. Thus, when summers like those of 1986 and 2016 come to a close, it is a good idea to stockpile some of the memories that make us yearn for another one.

The 21st century adaptation of the story of the Nativity is a timeless tale that has been re-told countless times over the course of time. Much of the text comes from the Gospel according to St. Luke, which, according to Michael Kennedy, professor of the History of Christianity at Christ the King College in Toronto, was composed in light of 20th-century material culture and the Bible’s relationship with a modern culture.

Much has changed in two thousand years. But two things remain constant. Our needs and desires remain constant as well as our ability to offer sacrifices.

The Jesus of the Nativity seems to deal in the present day at least partially. The familiar nature of the story is an excellent means to usher in people who may have fallen away from the spiritual life.

In tonight’s article, we are focusing on the story of Jesus of Nazareth because, much like today, the literal birth of Jesus fills us with expectations for a post-modern Jesus or something closer to a Christ of culture as opposed to the Christ of tradition. But it is the Christ that we encounter, that we desire, that we read about in vignettes of the past that made us seek the meaning of existence in the first place. And it is the crowning of the young Jesus that is really interesting.

You see, back in the day there was much more to Jesus than the standard images of him as the adult and as the Judean shepherd. Jesus is not only the founder of the religion of Judaism but also of a religion, a political movement known as Christianity. He is considered the pillar of faith, the light of the world, the hope of millions.

Again, much has changed in the last century. But, like most of us, what makes Jesus Christ interesting, to us today, is what he represents to us. He is not simply another religious figure. He is a human being who will be loved and feared, endeared and loathed, in love and loathing, known and unknown. He will play a profound role in the life of this world. And, in many ways, he will play a role in all of our lives.

This story is about the following:

1. It is about loving Jesus and believing that he is the son of God. It is a story of that love, of that love’s ability to both heal and to heal the sick. It is about the love that Jesus will bear for the world. It is about his bravery and compassion. The stories and miracles told in this collection of parables offer a window into the hidden and the mysterious. And in the really darkest moments, it can also, in some ways, help lead us to the light.

2. It is about finding hope in the unfamiliar. Those stories about the old man with the tall tale can easily spill over and become our own stories. And, if we are intelligent and open-minded and empathetic, we can see their stories reflected in our lives.

3. It is about loving and following Jesus. And, so, we are asked to buy a ticket and sit at his table.

You can read more about the Passion Parable read tonight tonight at @Peoplestories.

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