I’ve written on this aspect in my book as well as in a previous blog post in my other blog, but let me summarize some of the details people still get wrong when reading the Christmas story. Preachers should not assume that these details are already within the database of their congregation’s thinking. Rather, these details should be taught to avoid the popular myth that is Christmas. Especially important are the following.
1) Jesus was not born in a manger. If we read carefully, he was place in a manger in Luke 2.7. How in fact could Jesus be born in a manger? Did Mary sit on the world’s largest manger ever to give birth?
2) Jesus did not check into a hotel. The word for inn is very possibly a large room from one of Jesus’ relatives. After all, with the close-knit family structure, people who returned to their place of birth would find hospitality among relatives. The focus is the smallness of the overall dwelling so much so that they had to place the baby Jesus in a manger and not within the small birthing quarter.
3) The focal point shifts to the shepherds and not to Jesus in Luke 2.8-20. The entire birthing detail was not to show Jesus’ humble circumstances, but to allow for the shepherd to find Jesus in a manger. IF there were room inside for the baby, the shepherds would have a tough time identifying where the baby Jesus was.
These are just a few of the myths that deserve to be busted for good. There may be many others but these are the popular ones.
As I always say, the text is never the problem. The interpreter is.