Sunday 17 December 2017

The Nativity - Contemporary Version

Yeah, if I had to choose a word to describe today's Nativity, I'd go for "mixed".

I mean, full marks to our Youth minister, Drebling. He wanted to make it edgy, woke and lit. And he only missed by the distance from Husborne Crawley to Milton Ernest.

The thing is, we know that Herod is a bad guy. He's the pantomime villain of the Coventry Carol. But making him Donald Trump was an open goal, wasn't it? Him building that huge wall meant the Holy Family couldn't even get to Bethlehem. Ended up parked in the Bethlehem suburbs. 

Then the narrator. Jeff Stelling? I mean, how distracting can it be to have an endless stream of statistics as the story progressed? Land of Zebulun (sixth son of Jacob and Leah) and Naphtali (led by Ahira son of Enan, whose division numbers 53,400) - you didn't know whether you were following the Greatest Story Ever Told or watching "Who do You Think You Are".

The Shepherds who were abiding in the fields around Bethlehem discovered that, thanks to the wall, they couldn't get to the room where the manger lay.  They tried to get through, but were driven away by King Herod, tipping boiling oil (played by black treacle) on their heads and shouting "Get away from my beautiful wall! Make Arimathea Galilean again!" " So instead the holy babe was visited by the pardoned White House turkeys and the Little Drummer boy. Which is apparently as Biblical as an ox and an ass.

Then there was a very long "census" scene. For the most part, neglected in the Biblical narrative. This consisted of Nigel Farage checking the nationality of everybody in Bethlehem, while whinging about how poor he was. At the end of which, all the Eastern Europeans went home, and the parable of the fig tree was interpolated, with an explanation of how it was unfruitful because nobody was around to pick it.

In contravention of modern critical wisdom, Drebling insisted on having three "kings". Mervyn, Billy-Jean and BB. I mean, yeah. Alternative gifts. Sold-off gold, a tennis racquet and Blues. Hnaef suggested that to be really hip once of them should have had a "Frankie Says" T-shirt. Which I guess is pretty contemporary for a liberal Anglican.

And then, after queuing for two days because Egypt had left the Roman Customs Union. Mary and Joseph made it to safety. Herod went back to demanding to know why Caesar hadn't investigated Cleopatra over her unsafe storage of official papyri.

I did ask why we finished with the singing of "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life". Drebling said it's vaguely Biblical and everybody likes it. So fair enough. I guess that's what the Christmas story is all about.

Want a good laugh? Want to laugh at the church? Want to be secretly suspicious that the author has been sitting in your church committee meetings taking notes? Then Writes of the Church: Gripes and grumbles of people in the pews is probably the book for you.

From Amazon, Sarum Bookshop, The Bible Readers Fellowship and other good Christian bookshops. An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. And don't forget it's nearly Christmas!

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