Christmas – Real or Fake News

(audio sermon)

There are good reasons to accept the reports about Jesus’ birth and reject the legend surrounding Santa. As we decorate our homes and celebrate Christmas, lets do it in such a way that proclaims the real message.

Speakers notes follow –

Christmas – Real or Fake News?

Luke 1. 1-4, 26 -35, 2. 1-12

Fake News on internet right. People making money – Macedonia village student Goran in elections fakes – paid FB to share – paid per click by advertisers -€1800 one month

People see Christmas as fake news – but fun! Promote it – tell kids Santa is watching – knows what you want – parents can get upset if you tell their kids the truth!

Santa is legend not myth – truth exaggerated vs symbolic story – pastor/bishop Nicholas – 4th Cent Myra (Turkey) anon gifts – cartoon 1800s – Coke colours – now has centre stage – Nyali Mall

Date & Trees – pagan religion – Roman solstice – Euro winters severe – evergreens – lasting life

What about the Virgin Birth? Fake News?

Many Christians are biased – they believe without evidence – shouldn’t we ask a few questions before believing? A woman tells her doc ‘I woke up and was pregnant’ Should he say ‘its a miracle’? God did not expect Joseph to just believe?

Question: is it reasonable to trust Matthew and Luke?

① Was it written by them? ② Did they lie? ③ Were they deluded? ④ Does it make sense?

① Written by them? Luke this week – strong early tradition – Irenaeus said Luke – ancient scientific doc style/length prologue – wrote Acts ‘we‘ passages – ends before Paul’s death as if no more has happened.

② Did they lie? Christians martyred for this story – apostles present – John knew Mary & John B

③ Deluded? Tax collectors – we think they’re deluded – they quite hard to convince. Doctors – believe in a virgin birth? A man of ancient times? People in Jesus day didn’t accept virgin births! Ask Joseph!

Writing for a high official – not time to make things up – tone of his letter – checked his information carefully – interviewing witnesses

④ Does it make sense? Legal sense not scientific sense – miracles never make scientific sense

Clear historic context – Caesar Augustus census – line of David – Bethlehem registration for tax – ring of truth – no space – many there for same reasons

Frequency of terror attacks – FBI look for signs to stop it. Often fail – attack happens. Afterwards detectives check truth of what happened, FBl look at the signs it was going to – often admit they misread – slow to act.

Case of the virgin birth same – Have signs after – also signs before indicated it going to happen. Signs on both sides make a strong case – miracle has context

Isaiah’s prophecy ‘Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him ImmanueI’ (Is 7.14) – called a ‘sign’ – a sign of what? The name of the child tells us – Immanuel ‘God with us’

The Quran also says the virgin birth a sign – a sign of what? That God does miracles? Jews knew that! A sign that a prophet is born? Why is this one special ? Obvious – means no father –  God is Father

– Virgin Birth has solid support evidence – prediction – historic context

Can we have a tree – pagan symbol? Two views: ① Compromise ② Wisdom – Tree of life – eternal life – star of Bethlehem – gifts to Jesus /of Jesus – diminish Santa – distraction – Nyali Mall

Living in the Wake of Christmas – his coming but he is gone. The gift now is God in us – the Holy spirit.

Admundsen – pigeon EI 247

Better than Santa – what Christmas is about.

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