Luke 2: 1-20
Written by Rebecca Hilton, who considers that Luke would be comfortable with a retelling of the story he wrote, given that the story is for everyone, now matter who they are, and where they live. Congregational responses are bolded (because they are likely to be difficult to hear on the youtube recording).
Canberran Nativity Part 1: Setting the Scene (Luke 2:1-5)
A little while ago King Charles said, in one of his first actions as King of England and other Commonwealth realms, that:
PP King Charles: I want to make sure everyone is properly registered for voting in the referendum.
So the King’s first registration was taken while Anthony Albanese was Prime Minister of Australia. Donald Trump told the King that
PP Donald Trump: The machines were turned down by many states because they were not good or secure.
That’s pretty much a direct quote, by the way. This made the King slightly nervous. So he said
PP King Charles: the country won’t do any absentee voting.
Can you imagine the uproar if King Charles actually did that. Everyone has to go to their ancestral towns to be registered. Really, what is MY ancestral home. This part of the story makes no sense to us! But Jesus being born in Bethlehem fulfilled a prophesy by Micah. And Jesus was a Jew born in a brutal Roman Empire. When the King says go to your family’s ancestral home, you go!
Have I mentioned my husband’s family yet? My husband’s family is descended from the house of David. Clopas has such a big family. My favourite brother-in-law is Joseph. And I really like his partner Mary. We have a lot of fun together. We are like sisters.
Anyway, so my husband and I, along with the rest of the family, have to travel for four days to get to the family’s ancestral home.
Now this is a Canberran Nativity, which means that today, we are pretending that Mary, Clopas, Mary and Joseph travel to Canberra rather than Bethlehem. And one place where it is going to be difficult to travel from at the moment is far north Queensland, which has been hit by a cyclone, with devastating damage to homes and other infrastructure. So we need to consider that our travellers need to allow four days to travel from far north Queensland to Canberra.
PP Mary and Joseph: Wow, this is a really long journey by … [insert preferred mode of travel – eg. walk/cycle/flight/boat/hot air balloon ride]?
I told Mary and Joseph that they needed to book an air bnb as soon as possible because there are so few accommodation options available at the moment. The Matildas are playing a friendly game against … well, who they are playing against doesn’t matter, so long as they win. I don’t think Mary and Joseph were paying attention to me. Mary is in her third trimester, and has pregnancy brain fog – that is a real thing – so she won’t remember. And Joseph has a lot of carpentry work to finish up before the shut-down, so I don’t think he’ll remember either. I told them I would book for them, but they aren’t sure of their travel plans. No organisation.
Clopas and his brother talk about how annoying it is to go to Canberra, I mean, Bethlehem. Canberra/Bethlehem – same thing. It is such a boring city they say. I don’t think that.
But… we have no choice, we all have to travel.
Canberran Nativity Part 2: the Birth of Jesus
I’m back. You won’t believe what happens next. Can anyone guess? So Mary and Joe have travelled for four days. Room prices have skyrocketed – cost of living, you know – and there is no good accommodation available.
PP Innkeeper/AirBNB manager: I have no accommodation available.
So they end up staying at a really cheap hostel, called The Barn. Do you know it?
PP Wise guys: Yes.
On their first night at the The Barn, Mary has her child. A boy. Her and Joe wrap him up in one of Joe’s cotton T-shirts. The Hostel manager feel sorry for them.
PP Innkeeper/AirBNB manager: Hey, you guys can borrow my Poodle’s feeding trough to use as a bed.
So they place Jesus in the poodles feeding trough.
It was such an intense moment and after the birth they sat around stunned and in silence. The type of stunned silence experienced at a great shock. The type of silence we experienced after the results of the 2023 referendum were known. The type of silence when one hears of events actually now happening in Palestine – where the real Bethlehem is located.
And that’s it from Luke. Two verses to describe a baby being born in cheap accommodation because there is no room for them anywhere else. A baby born for everyone, no matter who you are.
Canberran Nativity Part 3: the Angels appear to Night Staff
In the centre of Canberra three night workers at Parliament House were finishing up the night shift. Their job was to keep watch over the building and the people coming in and out of the House. It is pretty thankless work, but really important. You need to monitor everyone going in and out at odd hours.
Then, while they were having a break in the staff room, suddenly an angel of God stood before them. And they said:
PP Shepherds (aka Security Staff): Goodness, this is terrifying!
They were really scared. You could hear that in their voices.
The angel said to them,
PP Angel: Do not be scared. I have good news that will make everyone happy.
Even though the workers were a bit nervous about an angel taking over the staff room, they said:
PP Shepherds: Tell us more.
Which was brave of them. And the Angel said:
PP Angel: Tonight, just nearby, a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord, has been born. This will be a sign for you.
An angel appearing in the staff room is some kind of sign! That is for sure. But this line about a Messiah makes no sense to most people. But for people living in Israel 2,000 years ago, it was meaningful. They knew the stories about a person—a Messiah—coming to save them. The angel was effectively saying that this baby was THE PERSON that their society had been waiting for to save them. So that line above should really be:
PP Angel: Tonight, just nearby, a baby has been born that will save society.
And the angel kept on going.
PP Angel: You will find a child wrapped in a cotton T-shirt and lying in the Poodles feeder.
But wait there is more. Because suddenly alongside our first angel a whole lot of angels appeared all praising God and saying,
PP Lots of Angels: Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favours.
Canberran Nativity Part 4: the Night Staff visit Mary and Joseph and Jesus
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the night staff said to one another,
PP Night staff: Let us go now to The Barn see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.
So they hurried there and found Mary and Joseph, and the child wrapped in a cotton T-shirt and lying in the Poodle feeder.
When they saw this, they told Mary and Joseph the circumstances of why they had come to see this child.
Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.
For the rest, everyone who heard the story from the night staff were blown away with how amazing all of this was. And the night staff went back to work, glorifying, and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
PP Everyone: This story is amazing. [Maybe turn to the person next to you for a quick chat about something you think is amazing about this story.]