We have to reinterpret that for the new generation who mightn't have picked up the second "r" in "bracers", and think instead of the mechanical devices that straighten up your teeth -and "blue" as the little rubber bands that apply the pressure. But many of us have gone through life with crooked teeth because "braces" hadn't been invented in our younger days.
So our younger members will have to let the older members turn the old question over - "Why does the King wear blue bracers?" The answer - "To keep his trousers up".
The old humour had nothing fanciful like some modern jokes and riddles. It was very much cause and effect with some unexpected twist. It was related to our real world.
It is when we fail to take account of cause and effect and rationality that we are caught out in our actions. We don't like it when someone points this out to us and says, "Well, what did you expect?"
We have been looking forward to the birth of another grand-child next Wednesday. Our eldest daughter in Sydney has been "expecting". Itís a curious expression for "pregnancy", donít you think? The old Bible talked about being "with child". What was she expecting? The baby would be a boy or a girl. I had a phone call last night. Madeleine Rose was born at 10.45am yesterday and was 4.5 kg. Twenty-one-month-old big brother Benjamin, so his dad told me, likes the baby, but may not understand yet that she is coming home for keeps.
Mary was engaged to be married to Joseph, the carpenter of Nazareth. She had never slept with a man and wouldn't until after they were married. That rule was faithfully kept - it is still God's best way for us today.
Engagement was an important time for getting ready - not only in the sense of making all the arrangements for clothes, ceremony and celebration, but especially in being ready to make this commitment before God and the people - and to live it out throughout a lifetime of sharing, loving and caring.
Mary was looking forward to marriage to Joseph and wanted children in their family. Her cousin Elizabeth was married to a priest named Zechariah. After so many years of marriage they had still been without children. Mary hoped that she and Joseph wouldn't be like that. Word had recently come through, though, that Elizabeth was pregnant. Extraordinary, at her age - God's goodness at work.
Elizabeth, pregnant when it was too late. Now it was Mary's turn - she would be pregnant when it was too early!
Our reading begins with Mary a virgin - pledged to be married to Joseph. By the end of the reading, Mary was still a virgin, but expecting.
Of course, we know that it doesn't happen that way. Mary knew it doesn't happen that way. Joseph knew it doesn't happen that way. But it's not a question of what happens, but of what happened on this occasion. We are talking about the unique and extraordinary work of God in bringing his own Son into the world.
What was Mary expecting? She was going to have a boy baby and was to call him Jesus. The New Testament was written in Greek. "Jesus" is the Greek translation of the Hebrew name "Joshua" - a name that means "the Lord saves". (The Joshua back in Moses' time was a great leader and deliverer of the people.) A little later on, the angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "[Mary] will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins" (Mt. 1.21).
What was Mary expecting? Her son would be holy and great. In fact, he would be the very Son of God Most High. She didn't know much more than that, but said, "I am the Lord's servant. May it be to me as you have said".
Nine months later - that's how long it takes for a baby to be ready to be born Nine months later, baby Jesus was born. Mary wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger (a feeding-box), because Bethlehem was full and there was no room for them to stay in the inn.
Some shepherds were out at night watching over their sheep when they saw an angel who said to them, "Today in the town of David (Bethlehem) a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord". Then a great company of angels praising God, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests".
God loves us, even though we so often do the wrong thing. He wants to forgive us. Jesus came to be our Saviour - to live as we should have lived, to die for our sins on a cross of human making and to come alive again. We allow him to be our Saviour when we say to him, "Yes, Jesus, you came for me. You died for my sins. I welcome you into my life. I want you to be Lord of my life. I want to live your way day by day. Fill me with your Spirit as you have promised. Thank you, Jesus, that my sins are forgiven! Amen."
Some people have said, "I've tried being a Christian and it doesn't work!" What did they expect? We can't be a Christian just by trying. We receive Jesus as our Saviour and Lord to become a Christian. The Christian life follows from that.
When we have said "Yes" to Jesus, Christmas takes on a whole new meaning. We are praising God for sending our Saviour, Christ the Lord.