Friday, December 20, 2013

This Story Makes a Difference

Like many of you, I enjoyed a Christmas pageant in church on Sunday.  We had shepherds and sheep, angels and wisemen, Mary and Joseph, and a baby Jesus played by a plastic doll.  I witnessed the well-known story full of familiar characters, a story I could recite from memory by the time I started kindergarten.  Yet I loved hearing it anew, even if the sheep forgot to “baaah” on cue most of the time.  Why is something so familiar still so powerful?

It dawned on me why this story matters so much as a woman sang the haunting Christmas piece:
Mary, did you know that your baby boy will one day walk on water?
Did you know that your baby boy will save our sons and daughters? 
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you’ve delivered will soon deliver you?
(Lyrics by Mark Lowry & Buddy Greene)
If this were not a true story—in other words, if it were just another ancient fable that warms the heart and gives some wisdom for living—everything in my life would be deflated, and washed out.  The brilliance of the sun would become for me a dirty fluorescent bulb.  Without the coming of this child, what would be left for us who believe?  Not much I’m afraid.

Long ago a child was born to a Hebrew peasant girl.  He grew to be a man totally dedicated to God.  He showed us what God is like in an unprecedented way.  He was “the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. [Heb.1:3].”  As what he said and did sank into those around him, they realized there was something unprecedented going on here.  In amazement they concluded:  “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.  We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth [John 1:14].”  But I get ahead of the story here.  At the moment of birth, the child is all potential, a future just beginning to unfold.  This child is a package generously received yet unopened.
Mary, did you know that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?
Did you know that your baby boy will calm a storm with his hand?
Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
And when you kiss your little baby, you’ve kissed the face of God

For now, let us simply hear again about the shepherds and the angels and the parents and the baby.  Let us realize anew the difference this story makes for us who believe.  Without it, our lives would be lost in triviality and tedium and emptiness.  With it, our lives are found in purpose and wonder and hope.  This story matters.

May you experience the incredible power of the story as we make our way toward Christmas,

Jim Kelsey
Executive Minister