"What is this babbler trying to say?" Acts 17:18

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

My Four Christmas Reads

I've finished up my annual Christmas reading. No, not A Christmas Carol, believe it or not I haven't even read that once. There are a few short Christmas pieces, though, that I like well enough to read every year.

Not surprisingly, C.S.Lewis makes it to this list. I find Lewis's “Xmas and Christmas: A Lost Chapter From Herodotus to be hilarious. It's a parody that makes fun of the “Niatirbians” (Niatirb spelled backwards is Britain). The imaginary historian gravely describes what “in their barbarian speech is called the Exmas Rush.” The descriptions of sending cards and buying gifts are exquisite fun.

Second on my list is also an essay by Lewis: “What Christmas Means To Me.” He must have had a bone to pick with the “commercial racket” that has become Christmas because he takes no pains to soften his condemnation of it.

Next is the Second Shepherds' Play. It's a little more obscure than C.S.Lewis but only slightly less funny than Lewis's ridiculous Niatirbians. The shepherds are those that the angels appeared to at the birth of Christ; however, this only happens at the very end of the play. Most of the action centres around the thieving Mak and three shepherds who are sure he stole one of their lambs in the night. Adding to the humor, I think, are all the references the shepherds make to saints that haven't lived yet. Maybe no one else would think it funny that a Jewish shepherd in 1 B.C. would refer to English locales and exclaim: “by the Rood these nights are long!” Showing that not much has changed over the years, the 15th century playwright has one shepherd mutter in the dark:

But my mood is ill-sent;
As I walk on this bent,
I may lightly repent,
If I stub my toe.

Lastly is the passage on the birth of Christ in Luke 2. This is what Christmas is all about; let's not forget it.

Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy that shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a SAVIOUR, which is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:10,11).
He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5).

Merry CHRISTmas!

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