When some in the crowd heard these words, they said, “This man is truly the prophet.” Others said, “He’s the Christ.” But others said, “The Christ can’t come from Galilee, can he? Didn’t the scripture say that the Christ comes from David’s family and from Bethlehem, David’s village?” So the crowd was divided over Jesus.        —John 7:40-43

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Can you see from this picture that it is Advent? Was it the blue paraments, the poinsettias on the altar or the empty manger in the center that clued you in? For those that came to the 4 p.m. Family Christmas Eve service last year, it may have been the wooden framework filling the chancel. For me, the picture shows how we were carefully preparing to tell the story of Jesus Christ’s birth to children and families. The chancel was set for the children in the congregation to offer their gifts of food and to build the stable, which would ultimately house the actors depicting the holy couple and the baby Jesus. The story was told and everyone there was together in knowing exactly who Jesus was and is, right?

The scripture for today is a few lines from a larger, more involved story in John 7. Jesus speaks on the last day of the Festival of Booths. Verses 40 through 43 say that the crowd is divided on who they think Jesus is. Some say he is a prophet, some say he is the Christ, and others say he could not be Christ, because he was from Galilee. Everyone in the crowd heard the same truth from Jesus, but they did not all have the same preconceptions, knowledge or expectations, so they were divided in their beliefs.

People are divided in so many ways in our world today, but I believe we can come together as disciples of Jesus. If we all continue to teach and tell the Christmas story and other Bible stories over and over, every time we can, everywhere we go, children and families will come together and know Jesus.

Leila Denton