Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Read Pericope 11: Jesus is Born in Bethlehem.

There is a remarkable contract betwee our annual hoopla over Christmas-the-cultural-festival and the information in the Gospels about Jesus' birth. Only Luke records the details of Jesus' birth. Matthew mentions it in passing in Pericope 10 (Joseph "knew her not until she had borne a son ..."), John talks about his birth in more cosmic terms ("the Word became flesh", Pericope 2), and Mark says nothing about it whatsoever, simply bringing Jesus on the scheme with the words "In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee ..." (Pericope 25). In all, only 18 of the 355 pericopes in the Composite Gospel describe the period prior to John the Baptist, each of them from only a single source.

Yet for those of us who follow Jesus, this brief description of an otherwise insignificant birth in an insignificant Jewish town indicates the most remarkable event in human history.

How silently, how silently
The wondrous gift is given;
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of his heaven.
No ear may hear his coming,
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive him still
The dear Christ enters in.

(Phillips Brooks, O Little Town of Bethlehem)

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