Personal and Public Nativity

Many tellings of the Christmas story are highly personalized, sometimes even rendering the story “cute” – like this lighthearted one:

While the Christmas story is indeed highly personal, Matthew’s and Luke’s accounts take seriously its public, social, economic, political, military, and inter-religious dimensions.

Matthew’s star is about as public as anything can be … visible to all on any clear night.
Mary’s song in Luke (1:46 ff) speaks of the arrogant elites being scattered and brought low, while the humble are lifted up – a major social upheaval.
She additionally speaks of the rich being sent away hungry, while the poor are filled with good things – a powerful economic message contained in the nativity.
Matthew doesn’t tone down the horrific story (2:3-18) of a paranoid militaristic regime slaughtering innocents – surely a commentary on the ways of empire.
Matthew’s story of the Magi (2:1 ff) suggests that Jesus will be a figure whose influence and attraction transcends religious and cultural boundaries.

May we be able to hold multiple dimensions together as we ponder the story anew this year.