Is the Epiphany myth or reality?

The Feast of the Epiphany in the church’s liturgical calendar is based on the events of Matt 2.1–12, the visit of the ‘wise men’ from the East to the infant Jesus. There are plenty of things about the story which might make us instinctively treat it as just another part of the constellation of Christmas traditions, … Continue Reading

Where is the dragon in the nativity?

There’s a scene in the film Love Actually where a little girl announces that she’ll be playing “first lobster” in the school nativity play. “There was more than one lobster present at the birth of Jesus?” asks her surprised mum, which leads the girl to sigh in exasperation at such profound levels of parental ignorance. … Continue Reading

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.