Creative LibertiesPosted: August 10, 2011
Yesterday I was reading a story to the kids I watch that dealt loosely with Christ’s birth. It was about a carpenter’s apprentice who gave his woodworking project (a manger) to baby Jesus on the night of his birth. It was a touching tale about the sacrifice of helping others but I found it frustrating. You see, when I read a story about the Bible, I like to discuss it with the kids afterwards. Last week we read a picture book about Jonah and the big fish, which I then talked to them about God’s mercy–which leads directly to talking about Jesus’ death on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins. I couldn’t do that with this “spin off” of the Christmas story because it wasn’t based on any fact from the Bible. It’s like the author just pulled names from the Bible and made an entirely new story. Somehow this is acceptable because it talked about sharing and helping others.
Yet this isn’t the first time I’ve encountered a story like this. Last Christmas I was reading a story to the daycare kids about a shepherd girl trying to go see baby Jesus. It had crazy things in it like the wind and frost talking to her, personifying these natural elements and taking away God’s control over nature–a fine thing to insinuate in a Christmas story. Even a traditional Christmas carol takes this storytelling technique: “The Little Drummer Boy” emphasizes the importance of us giving gifts from the heart. Songs and stories like these are not helpful in teaching God’s word.
Perhaps these creative liberties are done because the Christmas story does not have a strong enough moral message. You know, that stuff about God sending His only Son who, “. . . made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:7-8). That certainly doesn’t have any meaning. Or perhaps people find the Christmas story unexciting, never mind the fact that there were angels announcing the birth of the Savior and wise men traveling far to see the baby. Or perhaps it’s just a mean to create the fuzzy feelings we get a Christmas without actually thinking about what Christ’s birth brings to us: His death on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins.