A 5-week Advent & Christmas Bible Study in “What IFS ?”
Inspired by Faith and Science:
What if… you could put the whole Bible back into Christmas?
What if… it wasn’t just about presents, or just about a baby?
What if… Christmas doesn’t finish on Christmas day?
What if… the story is more than words can tell?
What is the aim of this study:
• To make Christmas special with Bible readings for every day in December
• To make the celebration continue beyond the season’s end
• To remind us that all the stories in the Bible belong to one tale.
• To provide a companion volume to Christmas! Genesis to Revelation in 100 words a day
First Week in Advent: The Beginning
Genesis 1:3 Creation: What if… there really was light without the sun?
Look for the parallels between Genesis 1 and the story told by science in evolution and geology:
• A planet clouded with toxic gasses – light and dark, but the sun is still hidden.
• Rainwater washing volcanic poisons from the air.
• Plants adding oxygen and cleaning out impurities
• Clear skies so the sun moon and stars can be seen
• Animals in the sea and in the air
• Mammals, and man.
It doesn’t mean you have to agree with the theory of evolution, but it does mean that it’s okay for Christians to agree with it. For some of us, the fact that Genesis 1 gets so much right is a powerful argument for believing the only eye-witness, God, must have written it. For non-Christian friends, we must never allow our personal (and humanly flawed) interpretation to discourage them from reading the Bible.
Genesis 3:6 The Fall: What if… it wasn’t an apple after all?
Some traditions say Adam and Eve ate a bunch of grapes. The Bible doesn’t say beyond it’s being the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. What might that mean?
• Maybe we chose to find out for ourselves what was good, like children playing with fire.
• Maybe we just don’t like being told to what to do.
• Maybe Eden was destroyed as a direct result of our “upsetting the balance,” rather than as punishment.
• Maybe the Tree of Life was forbidden so we wouldn’t have to suffer the consequences of sin forever.
Genesis 7:11 Noah’s Flood: What if… the waters rose before the rain?
Read carefully and ask which came first, rain or flood. The Black Sea was once a populated valley during a period of global warming. Then the Mediterranean Sea rose over the Bosporus Straits and flooded the whole of the “known earth.” Maybe flood legends in non-Christian traditions are retellings of the same events.
Genesis 16:2, 21:10, 25:9, 28:9 Ishmael: What if… Sara’s suggestion was common practice?
We assume we know the story of Abraham and Isaac, but there are details we often forget, or interpret more by tradition than by reading the Bible.
• It wasn’t so odd for a woman to use her servant to bear her husband’s child. In particular, it wasn’t so odd in Egypt, and Hagar came from Egypt.
• Ishmael wasn’t a child when his father cast him out. According to the Bible account he must have been about 14 years old. His departure is similar to Jacob’s later in the tale.
• Ishmael and Isaac weren’t estranged. They stayed in touch. One of Isaac’s sons married one of Ishmael’s granddaughters. And they met again for their father’s funeral.