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Challenging Christmas traditions (i)

There are two perennial truths about the celebration of Christmas. The first is that fewer and fewer in our culture, and particular younger people, know anything of the Christmas story and so are ignorant of the ‘reason for the season.’

But the other truth, less often focussed on, is that many of our Christmas traditions are some way from the Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus. As many readers will know, I don’t believe that Jesus was born in a stable, and I think this tradition actually undermines the power of the Christmas story. Jesus was not born somewhere over there, to be visited once a year, after which life carries on as before. His birth came in the midst of life, in the middle of a home, and disrupted everything around him. You could not witness this birth and remain unchanged.


This presents a serious challenge: can we question the tradition in a way which actually presents people with the challenge and invitation of the incarnation?

I believe it is possible, and we tackled this in our Carol Services at St Nic’s last weekend. More than 800 people attended and (to my knowledge) none walked out in disgust!

The opening part of this was to explore how we could ignore a birth in our contemporary context, which allowed me (in our Sunday evening service) to suggest that Jesus’ birth is similarly disruptive. This drama was written by Steve Stickley of Footprints Theatre Company. Feel free to make use of it with credit.


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8 Responses to Challenging Christmas traditions (i)

  1. Kamal December 16, 2014 at 6:59 pm #

    Why don’t you believe that Jesus was born in a stable?

  2. James Byron December 16, 2014 at 10:18 pm #

    I don’t believe that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, so in ditching the stable, Ian’s downright conservative!

    Good job on the drama, BTW. 🙂

  3. Dave Faulkner December 17, 2014 at 8:54 am #

    Video no longer seems to be there: ‘This video has been removed by the user.’

    • Ian Paul December 17, 2014 at 2:53 pm #

      Sorry Dave, it was deleted and reposted. New link in place now

      • Dave Faulkner December 17, 2014 at 3:21 pm #

        Thanks, Ian, I love it. Grateful for the permission to use with credit – I think that could make a late entry into a carol service this Sunday.

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