Yesterday in Sunday School, we read all the Gospel accounts of the coming of Jesus. Matthew and Luke, of course, tell about the birth, and John writes a long and lovely prose poem about the incarnation. And then there is Mark, who mentions nothing about a baby, and instead just jumps right in to the story of the ministry after the barest of introductions: “The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ.”
After the lesson, one of the women leaned over to me and said that she thought Mark was a northerner and Luke was a southerner, because Mark was in a hurry to get to the story, but Luke added in all the details: what the baby was wearing, where the whole thing happened, how Mary knew she was pregnant, who came to visit. My friend was right – the southern way is to tell the story in all its specificity, and when we hear Luke 2 in church tonight, I will be thinking about the evangelist as one of our neighbors – interested in having us know exactly how it happened, in all the detail, so we can picture ourselves in the story. Which, of course, we are.