Monday, December 22, 2008

Looking for "the moment"

It seems there is "one moment" every December when the magnitude of God's gift in Jesus is revealed to me in a fresh way. Often it comes from a fresh reading of God's word. But sometimes it sneaks up on me, as it did that Christmas in December 1986.

As I opened one of the last boxes to be unpacked after our recent move, it caught my eye - the program from The Magnificent Christmas Spectacular presented by Radio City Music Hall (RCMH) in New York City early in December 1986. David was in seminary, the boys were in grade school and David's parents were visiting for a long weekend to take us to the Christmas Spectacular. And spectacular it was, as only RCMH can do it! From Santa, elves & reindeer, to Scrooge, to the Rockettes as tin soldiers, to portions of the Nutcracker; they seemed to cover it all. We came expecting great entertainment and we got it, complete with laughter, singing, dancing, ice skating, and general merriment.

Late in the program, a hush fell over the auditorium, as the strains of O Come All Ye Faithful began to play. As sheep, donkeys and a camel or two moved onto the stage, the growing light at center stage revealed two awestruck young people bent over an unassuming manger, watching their baby sleep. Wise men and their retinue made their way onto the stage with their royal robes trained behind them. Of course, this was the climactic moment of the RCMH presentation, so before long the music swelled, the center stage lifted the Holy Family high and the twinkle lights brought glam and glitz to what was, in all likelihood, a very simple, humble affair. Nevertheless, it was a notable reminder that, but for the birth of this child in such humble circumstances, there would be nothing to celebrate. As the Christmas story was read aloud by the deep-voiced narrator, we were blessed that the spiritual significance of Christmas had not been forgotten. We emerged from Radio City Music Hall with tears on our cheeks and Christ in our hearts, reminding us of the true meaning of Christmas.

It happened again yesterday - my "moment."

As most of you know, we moved just 7 weeks ago into a duplex my dad built in 1978. The memories in this home through the years have leant a surreal quality to our transition; 1979 - as young marrieds with babes in arms, 1990 - as new seminary grads homeschooling grade school boys and serving at our church nearby, 1995 - our furlough year from service in West Africa when the boys were in high school.

Early last week, as I was preparing the guest room for David's mom's arrival, the memory of our baby boys cooing in a crib in this very room those many years ago seemed oh-so-fresh in my mind and heart. Can 3 decades have passed so quickly?

Then yesterday... our boys walked in the door for our family get-together and it struck me afresh. Those babies, these men, so real, so ordinary, yet still a miraculous gift to me, to us... My heart was struck for my sons and for the growth and healing our family has experienced this past year. It's been a hard year, but a good year.

And my heart was struck for my Lord, Who arrived in newborn flesh and whose entire earthly life was a miraculous gift not only to His mother, father and siblings, but to the human family, to those who trust in the miracle of His birth, life, death and resurrection!

This Christmas, may your heart be open to a Christmas "moment" when the miracle of Jesus' birth rings in your heart in a new way.

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