Christmas by Heart

Happy New Year! I know that sounds weird but it’s true. The Christian calendar starts every year with the season of Advent. Advent is a season of waiting and preparation as we anxiously await the coming of the Messiah. This year in CREW we’ll be practicing the preparation that Advent is all about by learning to tell Jesus’s Birth Narrative from Luke 2 by heart. Memorizing an entire chapter of the Bible seems like a really daunting task. So, luckily that’s not the task ahead of us in the next two weeks. Instead of memorizing the exact words from a specific translation, we’ll be focusing on simply telling the story.

For almost 1500 years, scripture was passed down orally (that is people would speak while others listened). This was partly because most people simply couldn’t read and partly because the production of Bibles was an extremely expensive undertaking until the invention of the printing press just 500 years ago. So, over the next two weeks we’re going to take a small section of scripture and transform it back into the same sort of thing people 2000 years ago might have experienced as they waited for the coming Messiah.

We’re going to call this project, Christmas by Heart. It will be adapted from Casey Fitzgerald’s Christmas by Heart web series which was created to help people learn to tell Jesus’ Birth Narrative by heart over a 12 day span. Please feel free to engage with that process alongside the CREW students to help them as they prepare to tell the story of Luke 2.

This story starts out with the declaration that Caesar Augustus has made a claim. This start would have made sense to anyone alive at the time this story was told. Caesar was the most important character in the biggest story in the world at the time. This would have meant that the author of Luke was placing the Christmas story right in the middle of what was going on in the world around them. However, when we look at this story with our “Advent Goggles” anticipating that Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah, we can see the use of Caesar in a very different way. We can see that God can even use the most powerful people in the world as a part of his plan. As you begin to learn this story, consider how big the Christmas story is for the world.

When the shepherds say, “let’s see this thing,” the greek word, translated as thing, also means, ‘word’. This means that the word of the story wasn’t just meant to be listened to as we might understand it today. But rather the word is something to be experienced and seen.

What do you think the story should look like to help people “see” it today?

As our CREW small groups work together to learn this Christmas story by heart, they will consider what it would sound like in their own words, and how they might be able to convey what they feel to others. I encourage you to do the same and even share your ideas in the comments section below.

At the end of next week’s meeting, we’ll be recording each small group’s version of the Christmas story and over the week after that, I’ll be releasing these videos out via the email list and blog.

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