Anxiety. Relief. Happiness. Awe and wonder. Terror! Anger and fear. Curiosity, amazement, fascination and joy. What do these words have in common? They’re all emotions that can be found in the account of Christ’s birth.
“Emotions are an extremely important part of Bible translation,” said LBT missionary Rev. Michael Megahan. “Much of our day-to-day conversation is really emotional communication. We communicate to others what is emotionally important to us.”
Can you imagine the Nativity story written without emotion? Could we empathize with Mary and Joseph as they arrived in an overcrowded Bethlehem with no place to stay? Would it be clear that wonder, happiness and awe greeted the safe arrival of the Christ Child? Could we possibly imagine how the shepherds felt when angels first appeared to them or the reaction when they told others what they had seen? We might not understand that those who heard the shepherds’ story were amazed by the events of the evening. The extent and consequences of King Herod’s anger and fear might be understated and misunderstood. The Magi might be regarded as travelers with a mild interest in astrology instead of intellectuals fascinated and intrigued by the signs they saw in the heavens, overjoyed when the star led them to Jesus.
Every emotion imaginable can be found in Scripture. Simeon joyfully praising God for allowing him to see the newly born Child, God Himself angrily condemning the behavior of an errant nation of Israel, the fear of the disciples on the stormy sea of Galilee and their astonishment when Jesus calmed the waters, Paul’s determination to witness for Christ even in the face of mortal danger. We need to relate to what people felt in order to fully understand the power and significance of what was happening. And we need to feel—and share—the immensity of a love so strong that God’s Son—born in a humble stable—gave His life so that those who believe and follow Him have the promise of heaven.
Thank you for your concern and care for those who do not have God’s Word in a language they can understand. May God bless you as we anticipate the coming of our Lord.