A little cranky. But not really.

When I hear people talking about wanting to go back to traditional Christmas celebrations, wanting to keep Christ in Christmas, I wonder what they mean.

  • There is no mention in the Bible of how many wise men came looking for someone. There might have been three, but there might have been seven. Or five.
  • Mary and Joseph did not follow the star.
  • The manger probably was not made out of wood like the mangers in most nativity scenes.
  • Jesus was not a light bulb, nor was he plastic.
  • Drums are mentioned in the Bible, but there is no mention of a little drummer boy.
  • There is no mention in the Bible of the birth of Jesus happening in the bleak midwinter.
  • Most cities I have been in do not have silver bells on every corner.
  • Notwithstanding “Away in a manger,” I am pretty sure that Jesus did, in fact, cry.
  • The stable may have been part of the building and there is no evidence that it was a barn.
  • The shepherds probably didn’t wear bathrobes.
  • The innkeeper did find space and probably wasn’t being particularly mean in saying that there was no room.
  • There may have been cedars around, but there probably weren’t any Norway or white pine or spruce trees within a semi-truck’s drive of Bethlehem.
  • There was no Christmas program, no memorized lines.

We make the carols rhyme.
It happens all the time.
We think it sounds sublime.
But having babies hurts.

We add our little bit.
It helps the story fit
with what we want to get;
But that’s not the story.

I’m not a Christian Scrooge.
Have trees and a deluge
of gifts and stockings huge.
But  later let’s talk.

A baby is a start,
and captivates the heart.
But there’s another part
of this story.

9 thoughts on “A little cranky. But not really.

  1. Diane Brogan

    Jon, This is a wonderful thought provoking post. Thankfully, in our country, we can celebrate Christmas any way we want. Enjoy your Holiday Season.


  2. Rich Dixon

    We do love our traditions. Your words caused me to wonder whom–or what–I’m worshiping. Brought up a word I don’t use much: idolatry.

    It’s fun to do it my way. Maybe I need to think a bit more about doing it His way.

    Nothing cranky about that.


  3. Chris Marsden

    If you haven’t already, check out Andrew Peterson’s Christmas album, “Behold the Lamb of God.” It is the closest thing I have found to honoring our traditions at Christmas and putting my heart where I think God wants it.

    Have an wonderful Christmas!


  4. Pingback: Merry Christmas — Bouncing Back

  5. Hannah

    For Advent services this year, we gathered around the outdoor firepit at 7:30 each Thursday night. After a brief litany, we passed the Bible around the circle reading extended passages from Isaiah and the Gospels. Followed by the Nicene Creed, Lord’s Prayer, and a capella song. The Isaiah passages were long, confusing, often disturbing, and difficult to read by firelight alone. The struggle and the space of Advent is where Christmas found me this year.


    1. Jon Swanson

      Hannah, I love this. One of my goals for the year is reading Isaiah, in part because of that challenge, in part because of how much Jesus referred to it, and it referred to Jesus.

      Thank you for stopping by


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