Most of us, perhaps, have wondered how Mary told her family that she was pregnant and what their reaction was. The same goes for Joseph. What was it like to see and hear an angel? What was the journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem like?
Apart from such questions artistically answered, the main strength of the film is the sense of real history that it gives. All of the trappings of Christmas sometimes bury the reality of Jesus beneath cultural and personal traditions. This movie is a good way to be reminded of the reality of His birth.
It is vitally important that we emphasize the historic truth of Jesus' birth, life, death, and resurrection. There alone is the basis for our faith that brings to us through Jesus hope, healing, abundant and eternal life. The Christmas Story is not a myth but the greatest moment of world history.
Richard Dawkins, a popular science writer and critic of all things Christian, especially in his new book The God Delusion, decries all of what we believe as an incredible fairy tale. A BBC editorial takes him to task:
Fairy tales are make-believe, swirled in the mists of obscurity. “Once upon a time, in a far-away land, in an age long ago…” Christianity is rooted in history: in Bethlehem of Judea, during the reign of King Herod. We know the location down to a mile or so, and the time to within a year or two. As Dorothy Sayers said, Jesus Christ is the only god with a date in history. This is no fantasy, but verifiable fact.
...CS Lewis commented... about fairy tales. “I’ve been reading romances, visionary literature, legends, myths all my life,” he continued. “I know what they are like. Not one of them is like this. Of this text there are only two possible views. Either this is reportage--pretty close up to the facts--or else some unknown writer in the second century suddenly anticipated the whole technique of modern novelistic realistic narrative,” Lewis concluded. The account of Jesus’ birth is as far from a fairy tale as could be.The whole point of the Christmas story is that God entered into humanity. This was not just a visitation. It was joining humanity to experience all that we do, yet without sin. It was a plan destined for pain, suffering, death, and resurrection for Jesus, providing hope, healing, salvation, and eternal life for all who believe in Him.
Our culture has settled for a mythical Jesus, brought out once a year, dusted off, displayed, and then relegated back to storage until the next Christmas. We, the church, cannot afford to join this in any way. The reality of Jesus in our lives and in history needs to be repeated aloud frequently so that those still in darkness might find His light. I'm truly thankful for a movie (of all things) that helps so much in this mission.
Keep praying--keep the faith,