Every year our tradition is to read the Christmas Gospel before we eat Christmas dinner. For us, that is tonight. So today I want to share a very different version with you. It is an excerpt from the Gospel of Luke – “The Aussie Bible. (Well, bits of it anyway!)” re-told by Kel Richards, Bible Society of NSW 2003. I hope you enjoy it.
Jesus is born
In those days Caesar Augustus ordered a head count of the whole Roman empire. (This was the first big tally, when Quirinius ran the Syrian branch of the empire.) And everyone had to go back to the bit of country they were born in to fill in the forms.
So Joe hiked up from Nazareth (in Galilee shire) to Bethlehem (in Judea shire) because this spot in the mulga was where King David came from, and Joe’s family tree had King David up in the top branches. He went there to fill in the forms and sign the register with his fiancée, Mary, who was pretty near nine months by this time. While they were there, she gave birth to a baby boy. She wrapped him in a bunny rug, and tucked him up in a feed trough in a back shed because the pub was full to bursting.
There were some drovers, camped out in a paddock nearby, keeping an eye on their mob of sheep that night. Their eyes shot out on stalks when an angel of the Lord zapped in to view, and the glory of the Lord filled the air like a thousand volts of electricity.
The angel said: “Stop looking like a bunch of stunned mullets. Let me give you the drum, the good oil, it’s top news for the whole crew – everyone, everywhere. Today in that little town on the hill a rescuer has been born: he is the Promised One, the King, the Lord. And here’s how you’ll find him: the little nipper is wrapped up in a bunny rug, and lying in a food trough.”
And before you could say, “ Well, I’ll be blowed!” the whole sky was filled with more angels than you could count, singing away at the top of their lungs (if angels have got lungs, that is): “God is great! God is bonzer – and to everyone on this planet who’s on God’s side: peace and good will, and, by the way, Happy Christmas.” (Which rather confused the drovers because they’d never heard of Christmas before.)
Suddenly the whole choir had nipped off in the blink of an eye. The drovers said to each other, “We’d better make tracks to Bethlehem and have a squiz at what’s happened – check out this message from God.”
So the lot of them shot through like a Toorak tram to Bethlehem – and they found Mary, Joe and the baby who was, sure enough, wrapped in a bunny rug and lying in a food trough. When they’d seen this they told every Tom, Dick and Harry about what had happened, and everyone who heard the story was blown away by it. But Mary just made a mental note of these things, and tucked them away in a corner of her heart. The drovers went back to the paddock, and their mob of sheep, as excited as a race horse on Melbourne Cup day, and saying what a bottler God was, because everything was spot on – just as they’d been told.
© Raili Tanska