Not your average Nativity! Not your average 60-page pocket-sized evangelistic booklet that is absolutely faithful but so similar to any other evangelistic booklets that you can’t be bothered to read yourself and too embarrassed to give to any non-believing friends and family.
That was half what I expected when I first received The Weirdest Nativity among a few other Christmas outreach booklets. I didn’t expect much. And I thought it was for children because there is a red Welsh dragon on the front cover. But I did pick it out because of the name of one of the authors, Andrew Sach. I was a big fan and student of some of his other books. Thus I started reading my first Christmas-themed book (on 4th October).
If you trust me, you’ll go read it straightaway. As a piece of teaching, it’s eye-opening and jaw-dropping. As a piece of literature, it’s a gem. But if you don’t trust me, read on but SPOILER ALERT! But I believe it’s better to spoil it a bit than you missing it altogether!
It starts like this:
The school nativity was a bit different this year. Of course there were the usual last-minute costumes: the tea-towel-and-dressing gown shepherds; the Burger-King-crown wise men; the awkward Joseph, trying to keep a safe distance from a Mary who was taking her betrothal far too seriously. (By this point, I know I will love this booklet already!)…
But why was Harry dressed as a dragon? Why was there a lamb in the manger? Why, in this health-and-safety-conscious age, were there shards of broken pottery all over the floor? And what was with the grinning baby holding a crowbar?…
Disturbed parents were quick to point the finger at Mr Latimer, the new Religious Studies teacher, … he calmly picked up a Bible, turned to the back and began to read aloud of a dragon, a crowbar, smashed pottery and a lamb. The school governors were dumbfounded. It was the Christmas story as they’d never heard it before, but it turned out that Mr Latimer’s nativity was legit after all.
Clearly both Mr Matthew and Dr Luke missed the red dragon out of their versions of the Nativity but fortunately, here we have John, telling us the same Christmas from the most unusual perspective. Can you guess where this is going so far?
John’s version of Nativity goes like this:
A baby was born to a woman, who was beautifully dressed like a queen. Then there was this terrifying, ugly, red dragon standing in front of the woman who was in labour pain, and ready to swallow up the baby as soon as he landed.
The authors introduce the cast: the baby, the woman and the dragon. The dragon is absolutely real. Its name is the devil. Do you not believe there’s such thing as the devil? Look at the painting below.
The story continues:
The newborn boy who was taken to God and to his throne.
Jesus’ whole life, death and resurrection were covered in one sentence and half of that sentence spoke about he will “rule all the nations with an iron sceptre”. Jesus was born and he rules. The end. To elaborate, the authors take Psalm 2 and turn it into a TV news bulletin, with footage transmitted from New York, God’s heavenly throne room, a private interview with the Son, the Jerusalem studio and back to London Big Ben, brilliantly explaining the significance of the crowbar and the broken pottery. The world is in rebellion but the King is on the throne.
The dragon was thrown down from heaven to the earth.
What does this dragon do? Why is he deadly? Does he have sharp claws or does he set things on flame? Curiously, his strategy is to accuse people in the heavenly courtroom. And when he accuses, no one can stand guilt-free because all the cases against us are completely true! We are condemned and the sentence will have eternal consequences. But the “brothers and sisters” of John (the author of Revelation) did not need to fear the dragon’s accusation because they have triumphed.
And the believers triumphed by the blood of the Lamb…
The woman (who just gave birth to the child) fled and was protected by God but the dragon was in hot pursuit…
Christians suffered different degrees of persecution across the span of history and in different parts of the world. But it was never a surprise and it will never cease until Jesus comes back. In fact, Jesus clearly promised hardship if you decide to side with him. Is it worthwhile? Yes if you know what the two options are. Is there any comfort? Yes the persecution will not last forever.
And at the end, all the saints live gloriously ever after.
Now you’ve heard this Weirest Nativity. Will you carry on living and forget all about the baby, the dragon and the lamb? Or will you join the next available Life Explored course?