Wednesday, January 25, 2023

An unexpected return to the ACCA

Just when everyone, including me, assumed the Annual Christmas Card Audit was over for another year, my Mum surprised me by giving me a bag full of all her Christmas cards to look through. It included this one that features the Old Market Hall in The Square in Shrewsbury, which I thought was apt to include given that's where Mum lives and where all this sample of cards came from.

I’m not going to do a full audit of Mum's cards, but I am going to use the bundle of cards to increase the size of the data sample in my quest to find the most popular Bible verse to feature on Christmas cards.

There were 71 cards in the bag my Mum gave me. 10 cards had Bible verses, which is about about 14% of the cards. That’s a much higher ratio of cards with Bible verses than in the cards that Cathy and I received this year (which you can read about here).

Unlike the cards with Bible verses on that cathy and I received this year, there were a couple of lines from the Nativity stories in the gospels included in Mum’s cards. But conversely, there were also no verses from the Psalms in Mum’s selection, unlike on the cards that Cathy and I received.

In order of appearance in the Bible, these are the verses. Isaiah was popular, particularly chapter 9, verse 6 which appeared on two cards, with different bits of the verse selected for inclusion.

Isaiah 9.6 “For to us a child is born, a Son is given.”

Isaiah 9.6b “His name will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

That first bit featured on a card we received this year too!

There was a verse from later on in Isaiah as well.

Isaiah 60.1 “Arise shine, for your light has come, and the Glory of the LORD rises upon you.”

Moving into the New Testament, three of the four gospels were represented by a verse each.

Matthew 2.1 “After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked ‘Where is the one who has been born King of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.’” (Perhaps unsurprisingly, this was on a card featuring the three wise men.)

Luke 2.14 “Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace, goodwill toward men.”

John 1.14 “The Word became flesh, and lived among us. We saw his glory, such glory as of the one and only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth.”

I’ve written essays on the prologue of the gospel of John twice in my life – when I was doing Religious Studies at A Level and then when I was doing my New Testament Studies module on my theology degree. I’d go on a limb and say it’s probably the most intriguing part of the New Testament. Previously another verse from this section of John’s gospel has featured on cards but this is the first time verse 14 has been counted.

And then we finish up with some verses from the random tiny books towards the end of the New Testament. None of these verses had featured previously in these audits. 

Titus 2.11 “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.”

1 John 4.9 “By this God’s love was revealed to us, that God has sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.”

Jude 1.2 – “I pray that God will greatly bless you with kindness, peace and love!” – this appeared in 2 cards in Mum’s bundle, having never appeared in cards we have received. Both cards were the same design, from the same charity (The Leprosy Mission) so I’m only counting it once for audit purposes.

So, the new revised totals of verses on cards are as follows:

  1. Luke 2.11 (sometimes with a bit of Luke 2.10 attached) – 5
  2. Isaiah 9.6 - 4
  3. Psalm 33.21 - 3
  4. John 1.9 - 2
  5. Psalm 46.10; Psalm 139.11-12; Isaiah 40.5; Isaiah 60.1; Matthew 2.1;  Matthew 2.11; Luke 2.4-5; Luke 2.7; Luke 2.14; John 1.14; John 8.12; 2 Corinthians 9.15; Titus 2.11; 1 John 1.5; 1 John 4.9; Jude 1.2- all with 1

The big winner after counting this sample is Isaiah 9.6, which moves into second place in the table, leapfrogging Psalm 33.21. I was surprised that all the other Bible verses were brand new to the audit sample!

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