If you’ve been out lately, you’ve seen Halloween decorations on display. I’ve seen Thanksgiving finery on exhibit, and already there are Christmas things on the shelves. In their red and green push for profits, the merchants seem shameless in their quest. They’re usually way ahead of us on the calendar. It did, though, cause the wheels to start turning in my mind. Christmas has always been my favorite season, and I used to relish the opportunity to study the narratives about the Nativity. I’d try to put my mind in neutral and listen to the story as though I were hearing it for the first time. Incredible. If that story is true (and I believe it is, with all my heart), it is absolutely Incredible.
One Christmas before her Aunt died, my wife (Linda) and I visited her in the retirement home where she lived. It was Christmas eve. Linda had decided it would be good if we spent time with her, since we were the only relatives with whom she maintained a relationship. She was a retired “school marm,” unmarried, quadrapalegic, grumpy and abrupt. In a Christmas frame of mind, Linda bounced cheerfully into her suite and announced: “We’re gonna read the Christmas narrative together tonight.” Mimi wasn’t terribly impressed. “I already heard that story so many times,” she replied and continued, “we’ve had some of the girls who work here got themselves pregnant. And don’t even know who the daddy is. I’ve heard that story so many times!”
I almost choked. “Well,” Linda said, you’re gonna hear it once more tonight.” After I’d almost swallowed my Adam’s apple and recovered, I read the beautiful account which Matthew wrote about the circumstances of Christ’s birth. You’ll enjoy reading and comparing each of the Gospel writer’s account of the the birth of Christ.
People do become overly familiar with some ideas. Having heard them so often, in some cases we can just put our minds on auto-pilot, run rapidly through them and never seriously consider magnificent truth. Much less have to deal with it. Familiarity breeds indifference sometimes. To try to counter that, especially when studying God’s Word, I try to think how it would strike me if I’d never before heard such a story. Once, I even tried to place myself in the role of a shepherd in Bethlehem the night the “wise men came from the East (Possibly Iran, Iraq, Jordan) asking ‘Where is He that is born King of the Jews? We’ve seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” In my mind, I’m the shepherd, you understand? I’m just walking home after work, minding my business, and these strange guys appear from out of nowhere. And they’re asking an even stranger question. A very disturbing question: “Where is He that is born of the Jews; for we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” On that occasion, I wrote:
“The Shepherd’s Response.”
A child born to be king?
Ha! What is this foolish thing
You’ve manufactured in your mind?
Some are curious.
And heads will roll
before he’s through!
You can’t be serious!
The sun, and sand have
driven you insane, I say!
But, ah. . .
How I wish this tale you tell were true
So filled with glory,
Could bring new life
to this darkened life of mine!
Christmas is coming. Shortly you may be swept up in a red and green rush, with sparkling, twinkling lights and the scent of evergreen almost everywhere. Before that happens, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we “got the jump” on the business world and began again to pause to ponder and wonder at the very idea that “The Word became flesh?!! And dwelt among us. And we beheld His glory, as of the only begotten Son of God. . . full of grace and truth!”
May I suggest an interesting study? How about laying all the Gospel accounts side by side and see how each author places his own unique touch on the story. Try to imagine how you’d feel if you were hearing it for the first time. Weigh what you’re hearing. Consider what it means if that little infant for whom the wise men searched, REALLY IS THE KING. GOD’S SON! SAVIOUR OF ALL WHO BELIEVE!!
Although it is true, this is, you know, an old, old, story. But we should always keep it fresh. And new. My prayer for you is that you’ll do that and that the “Glory of the Lord” will dawn upon you, and the “Light of the World will shine round about you!”
God’s servant, your friend and fellow student, ~donkimrey