Word on the Street: Christmas Fact or Fiction?

Word on the Street: Christmas Fact or Fiction? December 21, 2023

Many are questioning what they believe about Christmas miracles. After deconstructing, will you still believe the word on the street?

Woman with red coat and hat, in front of green pine tree with snow
Image by svklimkin from Pixabay


“Word on the street,” declared the shepherds, “Is the Savior is here!”  After angels proclaimed the heavenly news and the herders found the holy family in the stable, they returned, glorifying and praising God, and sharing the news with anybody who would listen.

Word on the street had already proven true when Mary’s cousin Elizabeth had turned up pregnant despite her advanced years. Everybody said it was a miracle, and that the child would be a prophet who would prepare the way for the Messiah. Zechariah confirmed these tales through his supernatural speech impediment, giving the grapevine an earful.

Now it was Mary’s turn to be the subject of gossip. “Word on the street is that she’s pregnant,” whispered all the neighbors. “We know Joseph’s not the father, and she says the child comes from God!”  Scandal spread to the extent that the little family welcomed the opportunity to start a new life in a different town.

“Word on the street,” said the wise men to Herod, “Is the messiah was born–so we came to find him in your palace.”  Scratching his head, the king consulted his advisers, who informed him the baby was actually in Bethlehem. Based on rumor, he sent the magi to David’s Town, to find the newborn child.


Fake News and Disinformation

If the biblical characters had trouble believing the word on the street, how are we supposed to separate fact from fiction today? With all the fake news and disinformation these days, it’s hard to know whether you can believe the word on the street. Every news outlet seems to have the corner on truth, and it’s difficult to sort fact from fiction. Christians are quick to side with whatever pundit proposes ideas that listeners already espouse. You can always find enough information to support what you already believe. In a clickbait environment like this, what’s a believer to do? How can we tell truth from falsehood?


Deconstructing at Christmas

Many thoughtful people are questioning what they truly believe–not just about the news, but about their faith. They’re wondering whether they accept rumors of Christmas miracles, angels, or the virgin birth. Many who have suffered religious trauma, disappointed prayer, the judgment and hypocrisy of Christians, or theological questions find themselves deconstructing at Christmastime. When you’re surrounded by finery and festivities yet find yourself doubting, what’s a Christian to do? Instead of simply trusting what pastors have told you, let me suggest the example of Mary.

Luke 2:19 says, “But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.”  That little word “but” carries a lot of weight, because it indicates that she went contrary to whatever knee-jerk reaction might have come naturally. “But” means she deconstructed everything she was supposed to accept as truth and investigated for herself whether she would continue to believe the word on the street. Purposely processing everything in her mind, she took the time to figure out what she believed. Mindfully meditating on everything she saw, heard, and experienced, she opened her soul to the leadership of the Holy Spirit, who was alive inside her. She came to conclusions that were right for her, regardless of what others said she should believe.


Word on the Street: Christmas Fact or Fiction?

With everything you hear at Christmas these days, it can be tough to sort fact from fiction. This Christmas and all year long, I invite you to follow the example of Mary, who used both her heart and mind. By using both, she could discern the truth through the rumor, to determine whether she would believe the word on the street. If she could do that, so can you.


For related reading, check out my other articles:

About Gregory Smith
I live in the beautiful Fraser Valley of British Columbia and work in northern Washington State as a behavioral health specialist with people experiencing homelessness and those who are overly involved in the criminal justice system. Before that, I spent over a quarter-century as lead pastor of several Virginia churches. My newspaper column, “Spirit and Truth” ran in Virginia newspapers for fifteen years. I am one of fourteen contributing authors of the Patheos/Quoir Publishing book “Sitting in the Shade of another Tree: What We Learn by Listening to Other Faiths.” I hold a degree in Religious Studies from Virginia Commonwealth University, and also studied at Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond. My wife Christina and I have seven children between us, and we are still collecting grandchildren. You can read more about the author here.
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