Tami and I went to a Christmas concert at the Celtic Junction Arts Center in St. Paul last week. It was full of Irish music and dance. But then the band sang an African American Christmas spiritual – Children, Go Where I Send Thee. It is a counting song like The 12 Days of Christmas. And it makes about as much sense as a “partridge in a pear tree”. 

In verse one they sang “One for the little bitty baby, born, born, born in Bethlehem.” It starts out like any Christmas song with the birth of Jesus. But verse 3 is “Three for the Hebrew Children”. Which Hebrew children? Five was “five for the Gospel writers.” Wait a minute! There are only four Gospel writers. “Six for the six who couldn’t get fixed”. What six? Fixed from what? “Eight for the eight who stood at the gate.” What gate?

As with all folk songs there are endless variations of these words, but they share one thing in common. They are very confusing. People guess at their meaning, but they don’t seem to go together with the birth of Jesus. 

Is this how people look at our celebration of Christmas? Does our talk of a virgin giving birth, a star appearing in the sky, and God coming as a little baby make no sense to them. And do we further confuse them by saying “Jesus is the reason for the season” but then spend more time talking about presents from a big guy in a red suit than we do about the Christ child? Someone you know might be confused about Christmas, so explain it to them. Better yet, invite them to worship with you so they can experience what it’s all about.

It truly is about a little bitty baby born, born, born in Bethlehem – and so much more.
“For to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11)

Merry Christmas!
Pastor Mark