Yesterday, I returned to the small town and met again with the families on the hill. We did not meet with the family in the big city on Monday. They were travelling.
After having set the stage by storying through a good portion of the Old Testament, I began the story of Jesus. This was the 4th time I've told the birth story of Christ for a group, and not only was it easier to prepare, I told it in a way that was much more interesting and full of life. The more you tell a story, the more it becomes part of you.
I told the story in small parts, as it is found both in Matthew and Luke. My real goal for the night was to enable everyone who participated to be able to tell the story of the birth of Jesus well. It is getting close to Christmas time and this story is one that can be naturally told. I am going to challenge each of them to tell the story at least 5 times before Christmas. We had a lot of fun telling and repeating the story many times last night.
Our discussion roamed a bit, while they interacted with the story. A lot of questions they asked and answered had to do with the differences in the authentic biblical story and the popular versions of the Christmas story.
One other interesting exchange was this: I asked them if anyone noticed from the story anything special or miraculous about the birth of Jesus. Some mentioned the star that appeared, others the angels, someone mentioned the prophecy, but no one mentioned the virgin birth. I asked them if they thought it was special that Jesus was born of a virgin. Then it hit them. Wow! They talked about the story and agreed that this was a big miracle. I then asked '"them if Mary continued to be a virgin after the birth of Jesus. The all immediately replied "Yes!" Then one woman's eyes got big and she exclaimed "Wait, no! Remember the story. Joseph didn't have relations with Mary until after the baby was born." They all thought that was very interesting, since Mary is to them "The Virgin Mary"
I'd never really seen it before, but in Brazilian folk theology, the concept of "The Virgin Mary" is that Mary's virginity shows Mary's purity and Mary's virtue, not that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit. Last night, for the group, the emphasis was placed back onto Christ.