How many people, I wonder, have got hung up on the details of the story and because they can’t accept them as literally true, they can’t accept the key element of the story and so dismiss it in the same way? It’s not about angels or a virgin, or a star or wise men: it’s about God intruding into human history in the form of Jesus with an agenda of salvation.
I think this is the point John is concerned to communicate to those who were to read and hear his writings, just as we have tonight. That's why I so like John's Gospel. Listen again, “No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.”
"Now, take my friend Marlene: she's a very artistic type. You probably know the sort - dangly Trade Craft earrings, pencils and paint brushes pushed into her hair geisha - style: half-moon glasses precariously perched an the end of her nose and a pair of Doc Martens - one red and one green. ('I've another pair like this you know.')
She's a leading light in regional amateur dramatics with a name for her radical re-workings. Her trans-gender 'Phantom of the Opera' is still talked about in hushed tones …… in Harrogate. Marlene is also a bit of a committee junkie, an inveterate organiser and with a reputation for not tolerating fools: (i.e. most other people she knows). So I wasn't particularly surprised when she agreed to the Church Councils' request to stage last year's Nativity, although some concern was expressed: Marlene’s the sort of person who has causes. We feared her analysis of Santa’s carbon footprint and her concern that the elves should have a living wage. “After all, someone who wears that much red should be in sympathy with workers’ rights.” She opined.
“I’m told she couldn’t find his e-mail address.”
Lowering her sights somewhat, Marlene used her contacts at the University to cast the Wise Men who turned out to be Justin (lecturer in Astronomy), Trevor (lecturer in Ancient Near Eastern Philosophy) ... and Brenda, (lecturer in Theology - and convener of the interfaculty working group on Women’s Studies) … and you probably remember that Marlene and Brenda have not been on civil terms since the unfortunate incident at the Turkish bath.
“Anyway,” she said, gesturing to an open book on the vicar’s desk, “If you knew your Hebrew you’d know that it doesn’t actually say Virgin.”
“Oh she thinks she’s a theologian now does she?” muttered Brenda to Justin.
"Shut up Trevor. You’re a palm tree. Any more of that luvvy-talk and you’ll be both ends of the donkey.
It's hard to believe that it was nearly a year ago now, and here we are again getting ready for this year. It's going to be different this year though. After Marlene's triumph the church council members met in emergency session. Words like uncomfortable, inappropriate, trendy and travesty were bandied about.