For Christmas this year, I decided to gather ten Christmas quotes from some of my favorite ministers and theologians. As I was putting them together, I realized that they were all from different denominations and traditions. Below is a list of each quote with the name of each individual who said it and their Christian denomination in parentheses.
N.T. Wright (Anglican)
“Don’t imagine that the world divides naturally into those who can understand what Jesus is saying and those who can’t. By ourselves, none of us can. Jesus was born into a world where everyone was deaf and blind to him. But some, in fear and trembling, have allowed his words to challenge, rescue, heal, and transform them. That is what’s offered at Christmas, not a better-focused religion for those who already like that sort of thing, but a Word which is incomprehensible in our language but which, when we learn to hear, understand, and believe it, will transform our whole selves with its judgment and mercy.”
Gregory A. Boyd (Anabaptist)
“If we open our hearts to it, there’s something about the Christmas story of God becoming one of us in order to give his life to save us that resonates with us in the core of our being. If we are not dulled by over-familiarity, hearing this story feels a bit like recalling a long-forgotten dream. It reconnects us with something we’ve lost along the way, something we’ve perhaps given up on, something we’ve forgotten. It connects us with a primordial dream that resides in the center of our soul. The unsurpassable love of God that Christ reveals resonates with our soul’s deepest intuitions about reality and answers our soul’s deepest longings. In fact, the story of Jesus is the greatest love story that could ever be told, for it’s the story of a Creator God who was will to go to the furthest extreme possible – even becoming our sin and our curse – to rescue his undeserving beloved.”
Stanley Hauerwas (Methodist)
“That the Holy Spirit is necessary for our recognition of Jesus as the Son of God is not surprising, given our presumption that it is surely not possible for God to be one of us. Our temptation is to believe that if God is God then God must be the biggest thing around. Accordingly, we describe God with an unending list of superlatives: omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent. God is all powerful, all knowing, and everywhere present, but these descriptions make it difficult for some to understand how God can be conceived by the Spirit in Mary. Yet that is to presume we know what it means for God to be omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent prior to God being found in Mary’s womb. Admittedly this challenges our presumption that we can assume we can know what God must be prior to knowing Jesus, but such presumption is just another word for sin. By Mary’s conception through the Spirit, our prideful assumptions that we are capable of knowing God on our own terms is challenged.”
Brian Zahnd (Non-Denominational)
“Jesus’ invasion by birth into the dark time of tyrant kings gives us a choice: we can trust in the armed brutality of violent power or we can trust in the naked vulnerability of love. It seems like an absurd choice, but only one of these ways is the Jesus way. We have to choose between the old way of Caesar and the new way of Christ. It’s the choice between the sword and the cross. We have to decide if we’ll pledge our allegiance to the Empire of Power or the Empire of Love, but we can’t do both.”
Craig Keener (Pentecostal)
“Christmas challenges us to consider to which king our loyalty lies. Do we pledge first allegiance to those who achieve power by violence, intrigue, and economic or political exploitation? Does it matter where our wealth and merchandise come from? Or do we pledge first allegiance to different values, identifying with those in need and working for peace and justice in the world? …In context, then, these first stories about Jesus’s birth challenge us to follow his sacrificial way of life, no matter what it costs us.”
(Late) Eugene Peterson (Presbyterian)
“Mary was pregnant out of wedlock. Joseph was an apparent cuckold. Jesus was born in poverty. God had commanded a strange word; the people in the story were aware, deeply and awesomely aware, that the event they were living was counter to the culture and issued from the Spirit’s power… All the joy and celebration and gift-receiving in the gospel nativity story took place in a context of incomprehension and absurdity. Great love was given and received and celebrated, a glorious festivity, but the neighborhood was not in on it, and the taunts and banter must have cut cruelly into their spirits.”
Dennis R. Edwards (ECC Lutheran)
“The Lord’s peace is tenacious… It pushes away evil forces in the world, pushes away oppression, and even pushes away all the damage sin has brought to our souls. We get a foretaste of this peace now, through faith in the Baby of Bethlehem whose life, words, death, and resurrection changed the world.”
(Late) Billy Graham (Baptist)
“At Christmas we celebrate the fact of Christ’s coming into the world. He was born as a helpless baby to a poor woman and her husband in an insignificant part of the Roman Empire. And yet that baby was different from every other baby who had ever been born, or ever would be born—for He was God in human flesh. From all eternity He was God—but on that first Christmas He entered time, and He walked among us… As this Christmas approaches, I pray you will look at Jesus—as He is revealed in the pages of the New Testament—with an open heart and mind. When you do, you’ll discover not only that God is real, but that He loves you and wants to transform your life.”
Pope Francis (Roman Catholic)
“Christmas reminds us that God continues to love us all, even the worst of us. To me, to you, to each of us, he says today: ‘I love you and I will always love you, for you are precious in my eyes.’ God does not love you because you think and act the right way. He loves you, plain and simple. His love is unconditional; it does not depend on you.”
Walter Brueggemann (United Church of Christ)
“In violence and travail
We give you thanks for the babe born in violence.
We give you thanks for the miracle of Bethlehem
We wait with eager longing, and with enormous fear, because your promises do not coincide with our favorite injustices.
We pray for the coming of your kingdom on earth as it is around your heavenly throne.
We are a people grown weary of waiting.
We dwell in the midst of cynical people, and we have settled for what we can control.
We do know that you hold the initiative for our lives, that your love planned our salvation before we saw the light of day.
And so we wait for your coming, in your vulnerable baby in whom all things are made new.
This piece originally appeared on the Website for Wayhouse Media on Dec 22, 2020. Matt Allbritton, the owner of Wayhouse, has joined the contributing authors at Faith on View. Essays previously published by Wayhouse Media are being republished on Faith on View.