I have often wondered why the Christmas story is told over and over again in Churches and in films. I can recite the story by heart, and I know the ending so why retell it? Surely everyone knows the story by now.
I think that the Bible is a reflection of an oral tradition. Oral traditions, unfortunately are looked down upon by what we feel is a far more scientific written, or literary tradition. Yet, when we write deep concepts, such as the Christian story of Christmas, or the Christian view of love, creation or of life itself, we miss the subtleties and the often hidden messages therein.
This Christmas, I have taken time to reflect on the story and the multiple layers of meaning that are contained within. I have tried not to rush to the end of the story, nor to consider the story as an introduction to the end. I have tried not to impart all meaning to the end. Most of us, myself included, have great difficulties with that. We tend to want to 'get to the point', we are impatient with story and want something written down, something to summarize, to cut through.
Some of the worst wars have been perpetrated by the two world religions who have a book, either the Bible or the Koran. This is not to say that the religions are evil, nor are those who practice those faiths, rather it is a reflection of the dangers of taking what is meant to be, and written as a compilation of oral traditions and trying to find deep meaning in the particular, ie in every word rather than the general.
Have you ever wondered why the stories in the gospel differ from writer to writer. Some people have been driven mad by that! Why cant they get THE story straight. That is because there is no STORY, rather the Bible is a record of the faith experiences of people, it is the story of faith, and like all stories, it is interpreted in different ways and in different times. This is not to say that the story is not true. I am not saying it is make believe, or fantasy. I am saying that it is only by means of story and parable that deep meanings that transcend culture and time can be imparted.
The reason the story is told OVER and OVER again, is simply because its meaning is far too rich and complex to be contained in a simplistic reduction, where one looks only to the end, and forgets the journey itself.
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