What do secret agents, door-to-door window salesmen, zebras, giant raisins and even Hawaiian hula girls have to do with each other? Christmas, apparently!

With a festively generous helping of creative license, schools across the country will stop at nothing to help spread some Christmas cheer and find roles for as many of their pupils as they can, as they retell the story of the birth of Jesus. If these ‘cameos’ don’t make you chuckle, then you might be more happy chewing a humbug.

This makes me wonder how much of what I think I know about Christmas comes from the Bible, tradition or my kid’s school play? How many kings visited from the east? Were they actually kings? Did they arrive on the same night as the shepherds? Did the inn-keeper point the expectant couple to a stable? And should we really believe the song when it says ‘no crying he made’?

Some think that it’s all a myth anyway so who cares about what really happened. However, the Gospel of Luke itself claims to be a piece of investigative journalism based on the testimony of eyewitnesses. ‘With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, (Luke 1:3). This verse is a pillar of the Christian belief that the Bible is historically reliable. So even though school teachers might get creative with embellishing the story for festive fun, it’s good to be reminded that there is an original true story under all the trimmings that make their way in at this time of year.

Here’s a Christmas challenge this holiday season. Open up Luke’s or Matthew’s Gospel (in the New Testament part of the Bible), and read the true nativity story. See if you can spot any stables, or kings… or dinosaurs.

22 November 2017