On Christmas Day we heard the Christmas story told using song titles. There were in excess of 86 different song titles used. You might be interested to see if you can spot them:

Fairly obviously, the Christmas story is told in the carols we sing at Christmas time. I wondered whether the story might also be able to be told using the titles and some of the words from popular songs. I looked at the music on my iPhone and this is what I came up with.

Nazareth wasn’t much of a place. But as a young girl called Mary said, it’s my little town. Mary was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph.  But then something happened that Mary thought was the end of the world. Mary was at home one day when she was confronted with an event that was at the same time both strange and beautiful. An angel appeared to Mary and she said to him, ‘Who are you?’  He told her that his name was Gabriel and that he was an angel sent from God. Mary laughed and said to him, “There’s a guy works down the chip shop swears he’s Elvis, so why should I believe you. The angel told Mary that what he said was true and that God had chosen her. ‘Why me’, said Mary, I’m one of the common people. Why not someone more exotic – like a Japanese Girl, a China Girl or even an American honey. The angel told Mary, ‘God has not chosen someone like you, he has just chosen you. God has sent me to give you this message: ‘You’re having my baby’.

Mary was shocked. ‘What are you on about, she said, I’m, you know like, a virgin’. ‘It doesn’t matter any more’, said the angel, “A change is gonna come’. ‘Ok, said Mary, Let it be’.

Mary told he fiancé Joseph that she was having a baby. She might have hoped that he would say, ‘Accidents will happen’, but he wasn’t happy. We can work it out, said Mary. I’m still dreaming of that white wedding. Look Mary, I wanna be your man and I’d do anything for love, but I won’t do that. Do you really want to hurt me? You’re my best friend, said Mary. No, it’s all over now, said Joseph. I’m going to get a D.I.V.O.R.C.E. and be a bachelor boy again.

That night, when Joseph was having sweet dreams, an angel came to him. ‘Don’t stop believin’ in Mary’, the angel told Joseph. When Joseph woke, he thought to himself, ‘I was made to love her’. And he decided that, after all, they were going to chapel. When he next saw Mary, she was filled with sorrow. But Joseph said to her, ‘No more tears, enough is enough. I may be a carpenter, but I haven’t got a wooden heart. ‘But will you still love me tomorrow?’ said Mary

It’s funny how time slips away, and it wasn’t long before Mary was due to give birth. Unfortunately this coincided with she and Joseph having to take the long and winding road down to Bethlehem. This was on account of the Romans calling for a body count. Joseph and Mary turned up in Bethlehem with the baby due at any moment. They needed somewhere to stay, but although a number of houses seemed pretty vacant, there was nowhere to sleep. The scandal surrounding Mary had gone before her. There was gossip: “I heard she was working as a waitress in cocktail bar” In the end the locals became hostile: “Go on now go walk out the door just turn around now 'cause you're not welcome anymore.” Some were a little kinder and just looked at the poor couple as if they were mad, and thought to themselves, do they know it’s Christmas?

When the time came for Mary to give birth, she and Joseph were sharing their bed with a little white bull next to someone’s house.

Joseph was committed to his wife: Baby, I’m your man, he told her. Mary could only grab Joseph and tell him, Stay with me. I wanna hold your hand.

When the baby was born, there was no cradle, so Mary laid him in the animals’ manger.

Meanwhile, there were shepherds out in the fields. They were looking after their sheep, although some of them were better at it than others. Fred was pretty hopeless. His sheepdog was nothing but a hound dog and he could never remember to bring his matches with him and was always asking one of the other shepherds, ‘could you light my fire’. They hardly noticed the fire when they were suddenly blinded by the light of a choir of angels. One of the angels told them to get back into town because they would find a baby who was born to be king.

What are we going to take for the baby, said Fred. ‘A teddy bear?’ ‘Perhaps a lamb would be more appropriate,’ said Jimmy. And so they came down from the hills and found the baby that the angels had promised them. As Fred, who some times did talk sense, said, ‘God has become one of us’.

Far away in the east, there were some wise men. They came from a number of countries. Some were from India, while others were from Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan, or, as we used to say, back in the USSR. There were three main wise men. They each had a special skill. One was a star man, another was a handy man – in case one of the camels broke down – and another was a telephone man and looked after communications. He was also a soul man, who controlled the playlists on their iPad. He particularly enjoyed Egyptian Reggae.

Each of the wise men had a camel. There were Jolene and Roxanne who were rather stuck up and looked down their noses – something that camels often did. They were especially mean to Pearl, the other camel, but Pearl did have a special talent, I wonder if you might guess what it is. I’ll tell you in a minute. Camels are strong-willed beasts and need to be kept in order, so, just before they were about to head west, the camel herder had to shout out, “Stand by your man!” And off they went.

It was clear and flat across the desert sands and one wise men said, “I can see for miles”. Another said, “what that’s strange noise?” The third replied, “Oh that’s my camel, she often does that, Pearl’s a singer”. Still, at least his camel had some personality. The last time he went on a journey, he’d been through a desert on a horse with no name. 

They travelled for days over river deep and mountain high. They didn’t mind travelling all this way. I would walk 500 miles, said one. Another said, that’s all very well, but we’ve got closer to 2000 miles to go!

They could see a sky full of stars, but there was one special star that had come from across the universe and it was leading them to find the one who would be the king of the Jews.

The star led the wise men to Jerusalem, and to Herod’s palace. Herod was a bad man, some said that he was bad to the bone and he certainly did a lot of bad things. The wise men told Herod why they had come all this way and Herod offered to help. He called for his own wise men to bring out their books and maps. However, Herod must have had a pretty low opinion of his wise men as when he called for them he said, “Send in the clowns! I want them right here, right now!”

On this occasion, Herod’s wise men got it right and they directed the men from the east towards Bethlehem, King David’s royal city. Herod wanted them to tell him where the baby was when they found him. However, the wise men didn’t trust Herod’s lyin’ eyes and had a feeling that he could turn at any time and then it would be ‘No more Mr Nice Guy’.  They decided that they The wise men found the house where Jesus was staying with his parents and they gave him the gifts they had brought from Russia with love, gold, frankincense and myrrh. Mary looked at her son and thought to herself, “You are so beautiful” She and Joseph looked at one another and wondered what tomorrow might bring. But for now they were just enjoying this perfect day.

The greatest significance of the event that took place in Bethlehem 2,014 years ago is that God was born. As Fred, the fictitious shepherd said, God has become one of us. God got to know what it means to love and cry, to feel pain and to know what it means to lose someone we love. The songs we listen to and sing are about what it means to live, to love and to lose. When we listen to a song, we know what the singer means, because we share their humanity and know those same experiences. The Christmas story means that God know those experiences too.