CHRISTIAN VIEWPOINT: Ponder the deeper meaning behind the Nativity plays

GERVAIS Phinn, retired schools inspector, tells us about a school Nativity play he once enjoyed. The ‘innkeeper’ was angry that he was not playing Joseph, so when Joseph called at the Inn, he pulled in Mary, saying “She can come in but you can’t!”

Around AD 200, an unknown Christian wrote an embellished story of Jesus’ birth based on the Bible accounts. Historians now dig deeper.

The two fathers would have arranged the betrothal. Later, Joseph was furious to hear of Mary’s apparent unfaithfulness, but to his credit, took her home as his wife.

Then came the five-day walk from Nazareth to Bethlehem to register as of the family of King David in the census. The Bible does not mention a donkey.

St Luke tells us ‘while they were there...Mary gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths, and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn’ – the katalyma or place to stay/guest room.

A typical village home had one family room for living, with steps to a lower space at the end for animals at night. The family cow could reach its food in hollows on the higher level while sheep had a wooden trough on the lower floor. New babies were often laid in these ‘mangers’ on straw.

Because their adjoining guest room was full, Joseph would have found hospitality with relatives in a warm living room, not a cold draughty stable.

The angel mentioned the manger to show the shepherds they would be welcomed to an ordinary home. Some time later the Wise Men were also welcomed.

As you enjoy the Nativity Plays, ponder the deeper meaning behind the stories. There is much more.

 

J. Hedges

Heron Hill Free Church

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