He begins with this borrowed verse:
"They sold me a dream of Christmas
They sold me a Silent Night
And they told me a fairy story
Till I believed in the Israelite."
(words by Peter Sinfield from Greg Lake’s 1975 Christmas record)
"If your Christmas has been anything like mine you’ve heard quite a number of tellings of the birth of Christ over the last few weeks. Sentimental, imagined, romantic, harmonized, fictionalized, sanitized and idealized — that sums up so many of them."
"...Do we, in telling the story this way, conspire with our hearers to perpetuate a fairy story? Do we perpetuate the idea that the birth of Jesus is a fairy story, just a fairy story, something that — like the idea of Father Christmas or the tooth fairy — parents use to encourage children to be sweet and good? But something which we fully expect them to grow out of by the time they are 10, and see that it is just a fairy story that they have listened to uncritically and can discard uncritically?"
For more of Simon's post, go here.
Now, if this whets your appetite for a deeper understanding of the challenge of Luke's Nativity Story for us, you could do worse than read what Vernard Eller writes.
Here's Eller's summary statement:
"Luke and the people of his story celebrated the coming of Jesus Christ because it was a promise of the future of Jesus Christ. And for us too the proper stance toward Christmas is not to look back toward Bethlehem but, with them, to look through the stable into the Kingdom of God.
Glory to God among the highest!
And on earth peace,
Among men, delight!
Our Lord, come!"
Image: Geburt Christi. c. 1490, Geertgen tot Sint Jans (National Gallery, London).