Challenging Christmas myths in mission and ministry

On this site, I have for several years been challenging various popular myths about Christmas—that Jesus was born in a stable, that he was born into a distinctively materially poor family, that the shepherds were despised outcasts, that swaddling had symbolic significance, and that Joseph and Mary were isolated and alone at Jesus’ birth. Is … Continue Reading

Challenging Christmas myths on shepherds, swaddling, and support for the holy family

Christmas is a time for celebration, for feasting and for relationships. But it is also a time for a mild engagement in iconoclasm, as we peel back the layers of accreted tradition and recover the origins of the Christmas gospel—something which needs to happen every year, it seems. In that spirit (and Spirit) I offer … Continue Reading

What does Joseph contribute to the story of Jesus’ origins in Matthew 1?

This Sunday’s lectionary reading for Advent 4 in Year A is Matt 1.18–25. It is a short reading, but laden with significance as Matthew gives his distinctive account of Jesus’ origins. One of the presenting issues in engaging in the two narratives of Jesus’ birth in Luke and Matthew is their very distinctive perspectives, leading … Continue Reading

What does Joseph contribute to the story of Jesus’ origins in Matthew 1? video discussion

This Sunday’s lectionary reading for Advent 4 in Year A is Matt 1.18–25. It is a short reading, but laden with significance as Matthew gives his distinctive account of Jesus’ origins. James and Ian discuss the reading, its place at the beginning of the first gospel, and issues around reading it and preaching from it.

Is the Jubilee in the Book of Revelation?

One of the challenges in reading the Book of Revelation is that it is very theologically dense in the way it presents its ideas. There are several reasons for this: Its dense metaphorical language (commonly called its ‘symbolism’) carries theological weight. For example, the compressed phrase ‘a lamb, looking as though it had been slain, … Continue Reading