On the Plains of Moab Blog
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December 2, 2011, 11:33 AM

A Few Cautionary Words for this Sunday

This Sunday, we will be looking at Matthew's acount of the birth of Jesus Christ.  Specifically, we will be focusing on the virgin birth of Christ.  Usually, when this topic is presented in the pulpit, the typical minister gets fired up at those who would cast aspersion on the Bible's account of what happened in Bethlehem that night.  (Read:  You sorry liberal!)  My sympathies are certainly closer to this righteous indignation -- more so than the other side of the coin.  On that other side, some ministers, sadly far too many Presbyterian ministers, condescendingly write this (and all other miracles in the Bible) off as a pre-modern myth never meant to be taken literally.  (Read:  You stupid fundamentalist!)

The problem with the thundering, believing minister is that he (or she) never gets beyond the bumper sticker slogan, "God said it, I believe it, that settles it."  The problem with the disbelieving minister is his (or her) reluctance to ask the pertinent question of why a virgin birth in the first place?  Really now, a virgin birth was just as impossible thousands of years ago as it is today.  It was just as much a stretch for Mathew and Luke's first hearers as it is for us.  Virgin births don't happen as a matter of course in any era of time.  So, why did Matthew (and Luke) put something so outlandish and unbelieveable in their Gospels?  There has to be some reason for the inclusion of this miracle.

This is where we want to begin on Sunday.  The question to ask is not, "Could this happen?" but ""Why did this happen?"  What does the virgin birth of Christ communicate to us?  My working assumption (as it should be for any minister worth his or her weight in salt) is that God can do anything he wants.  Period.  Our job is to figure out what God is trying to teach with this unique birth.

So, with all of that said, I tell you, Sunday will be about a new creation.  Sunday will be about the work of the Holy Spirit.  Sunday will be about the wonder of what God did in Jesus the Christ.  Can't wait to unpack the virgin birth of Christ for you on Sunday!


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