Thought for the Month (December 2011)

Dear Friends,

The Christmas story is today attacked by aggressive atheists like Richard Dawkins. Some people assume that because the facts cannot be conclusively proved it did not happen, but the historical evidence is good. The two accounts in the Bible by Matthew and Luke agree on the key points of the story but not on the details. Historians believe this is good, as differences in the detail strongly suggest two independent accounts making it much more likely that they relate to a real historical event.

So what do Matthew and Luke agree on? They agree that Mary and Joseph are the parents; that the child is conceived by God before Mary and Joseph are married; that an angel tells the parents of the coming birth; that the child is to be called Jesus and He is born in Bethlehem after Mary and Joseph are married.

Matthew then also writes of wise men led by a star and Luke writes of shepherds and a host of angels; these different emphases add to the authenticity of the basic facts.

While the Christian Faith, of course, is much more than believing the historical details of Jesus' life, it does include a belief that what the Gospel writers tell us of Jesus is essentially correct and that includes the Christmas story.

Enjoy the nativity of Jesus and don't let Richard Dawkins or anyone else tell you it is all myth. It is a fact that almighty God became human in the form of a tiny defenceless baby who was born to a young couple in Israel. His 30 year life is the very pivot of human history and millions of Christians worldwide look to Him as their Saviour and Lord.

So remember this Christmas that you are celebrating a real historical event and you can rejoice in what God has done in history and in your own life.

Christmas is also a wonderful opportunity to pass on your joy in this event to others? We have a variety of services and opportunities to sing carols. Would any of these be suitable for asking your friends and family? Many people are drawn to a nativity service. Please give this some thought and prayer this Christmas.

God bless you,

Bob and Karen Street

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Tunbridge Wells United Reformed Church