It’s a couple days before Christmas, and the usual Bible Study group is meeting. The lectionary is the birth story, right out of Luke. Revised common Lectionary taken from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible. Good feelings – the regulars having coffee and kolaches, laughter and conversation about families coming home for Christmas, the shopping not completed, the expectations and hopes for the season. The Old Testament selection is read aloud, and then comes the passage from Luke; the nativity scene is laid out before us, complete with the child being wrapped in bands of cloth and then laid in a manger.
A hand goes up, the gentleman beside me patiently asks what version of the Bible are we reading from? “The NRSV”, comes the reply. “Yes, but the King James Version would be so much more poetic here; especially for the Christmas passages.” Immediately the nodding and the murmurings of agreement begin. Well, yes — the pastor can’t help but agree. “What version will be read on Christmas Eve? Won’t we be able to hear about the baby being wrapped in ‘swaddling clothes’ and not these bands of cloth?” The good Reverend knows that this is not going to go away soon. “Well, I guess the NRSV” he stammers… “Yes, the bulletin is being printed with the NSRV version; yes, the deadline for the printer…” The murmuring is growing more restless until another one of the regulars emphatically declares, “So you’re just going to STOMP all over Christmas because of a printing deadline??? We can’t hear the original Christmas story as it was intended in its original, most poetic form because of a printing deadline??”
The place erupts: laughter, shouts, accusations, dramatic cries of ‘heresy’! The preacher doesn’t know whether to laugh, or hide behind the coffee pot. As he shuffles and promises to “see what can be done” and we are laughing and pointing and elbowing each other, the gentlemen that first brought this to our attention quietly, stoically recites the King James narrative. It’s as if Linus has to remind all of us Charlie Browns what the real deal was all about.