Note from Leanne: Sharla, my sister-in-law, helps run the Bible section of the site. She does all the tough stuff -- writing children's versions, making teacher's guides, answering emails, etc and I just draw pictures when she asks me to *laugh*. She's spent the last month suffering what all webmasters suffer on occasion -- difficult notes from viewers.
I say "difficult" -- sometimes it's because they're angry and sometimes it's just because they make us think far more than the "crafts for kids" content of the site warrants *grin*. Don't get me wrong, ninety-nine percent of all notes from viewers are pleasant, cheerful and very welcome. Sometimes, they're constructive criticism -- pointing out typos, errors or broken links and sometimes they're just to chat or make suggestions.
But sometimes we get notes that are tough! They keep us up at night, cause emergency calls to girlfriends and long talks over the dinner table with husbands. My favorite "tough" email ever (I kept it) had a sentence that said "any positive integer must have a unique factorization into primes" -- I still don't know what that means -- I'm a housewife not a mathematician! And poor Sharla's a loving mom who's trying to share her love of the Christmas season with her family (with or without the donkeys *wink*).
I've added a few light hearted comments to her article -- hopefully they make her (and you) smile a bit!
Contributed by Sharla
I love Christmas! I guess that’s why I thought I should write a few of my thoughts down about it. Recently I have heard more controversy about Christmas than I thought could even exist.
About a month ago I received an email from a viewer of the site (I help with the Bible section of the site and have written most of the teacher’s guides). I love getting feedback from viewers but I was really bothered by the first email I received from this viewer. He stated that my children's version nativity story was incorrect and that some of the facts were wrong. This partly bothered me because I pride myself in trying to make a good children’s story that kids can understand and enjoy, while getting the Bible facts accurate. Then after reviewing the facts it bothered me because as much as those small facts were assumed it wasn’t the point of the story anyway. So you can understand where I’m coming from here are some of the viewer’s comments:
“The Bible doesn't mention a donkey.
The Bible doesn't mention a barn or stable.
You state that the wise men were with the shepherds at the birth of Jesus. Matthew says the wise men went to a house and met the child and His mother. They did not go to a barn, stable or cave and there is no mention of shepherds or Joseph. Jesus is described as a young child not a baby.
You say the star is very bright and sparkly. How do you know this? Similarly where did all the animals come from?”
After looking through the Bible I realized the viewer was right! After all these years of hearing and seeing the Christmas story I had just assumed that these things were fact. I did make some slight changes to my story to keep it as accurate as possible.
That brings me to my point. Mary could’ve taken a donkey, some people say that it would’ve been impossible that far along in a pregnancy to do that, but miracles happen (note from Leanne: I'm pretty sure she didn't take the mini van...). The Bible doesn’t mention a stable but if Jesus was put in a manger, a manger would most likely be found in a stable, etc. You get my point.
The way I see it, men wrote the Bible and the specific details about how Mary and Joseph got to Bethlehem might not have been that important to them (or to God who I believe inspired them to write Bible). The most important thing was that God sent His only son to earth so that He could one day save us, bridging the gap between the sinful and a perfect God.
Phew! I thought I had solved the "controversy of Christmas"… then I read an opinion of another viewer who finds the commercialism of Christmas and all things unrelated to the birth of Jesus pagan worship. I see her point -- but is decorating a Christmas tree with your family wrong? Is it wrong to love all the presents? I’ll be honest, I’m almost worse than the kids when I get to open my gifts *grin*. (note from Leanne: I'm no expert, but I'm pretty sure "Thou shalt not use gift wrap" didn't make the top 10)
So, with all this being said here is what I think. The best part of Christmas for me is hearing the story of baby Jesus, but I enjoy the whole spirit of Christmas as well. I like the music and the church play where my daughter will dress up like a little lamb and sing a song with her Sunday school class. I like the tree, the lights, the shopping, the baking, and all the family get-togethers. (note from Leanne: Sharla's VERY good at baking... I have chocolate cake envy *sigh*)
I see all of these things as one big celebration for the birth of Christ.
I know that lots of people don’t care about the special little baby boy born so long ago but I
do. So I guess I get a little sad when people say that having a tree is wrong
or that Christ’s birth didn’t really happen on December 25. It just doesn’t
matter to me! So... since we're all here on a website built with children
in mind -- let's focus on the fun and love and hope and happiness of Christmas
and save all our grown up controversy for some other venue (note
from Leanne: or at least give Sharla a break from it for this year!
 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.
 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.