Isaiah 62:6-12; Titus 3:4-7; Luke 2:1-20; Psalm 97
This week an unlikely question came to us from an even more unlikely spot. The spot was an Israeli woman and a Facebook friend. The question posed to one of our parishioners was ''Do really believe Jesus rose from the dead?'' I received a call in turn from our parishioner asking, ''How should I respond to her?''
My immediate thought was a reply like, ''He's not even born yet, how can we worry about his death and resurrection?'' After responding with my thoughts on the matter, I wondered if this might be a good point of departure for a Christmas sermon as well. After all, we could ask the same kinds of questions about the nativity: ''Do you really believe that the creator of the universe took human form as a tiny baby?'' ''Do you really believe that Mary was a virgin?'' ''Do you believe that Jesus was the Messiah from the beginning or did he become the Messiah at some later point in his life?''
We could go on and on with these questions. They all focus on some detail of the story in an attempt to answer the question ''Did it really happen this way?'' I suppose if you focus your energies on the Bible as being literally true like facts in a history book, then pursuing those questions might be helpful for you. But we might want to distinguish between truth and fact for example: It is a fact that Joan and I were married on May 17 1980. It is true that we love each other. Generally facts are statements about reality that exist outside of ourselves while truths are statements that exist within us and largely have only meaning or relevance within ourselves.
For example, a Miwok Indian storyteller in California began his tribal creation story to a bunch of children with these words: ''Now I am not sure if the things I am about to tell you happened in exactly this way, but I know that what I am telling you is true.'' In some churches this would get me fired, but it would seem fitting to ...
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