Last Summer my whole family got together for a week together at the Beach, together with my brother and his wife. One of the things I noticed is how many family stories we remembered together. My kids are old people now, so they love to tell/remember these stories together as well. And, they were delighted when my brother would tell them a story about me growing up that they had never heard before. And of course, all three of them know their “birth stories” that I have recalled for each of them on their birthdays for as long as I can remember. Yet, when we all get together, those birth stories seem to get retold a couple of times even though it is no one’s birthday at that moment.
How about you? Do you tell family stories when you get together with your family? Or maybe as you are reading this, the stories are just popping into your mind and leaving a smile on your face? (And if not a smile, I pray a realization that God was with you and sustained you in those difficult times as well.)
On these three Wednesdays in Advent, we are going to go back many centuries and observe the family of Mary and Joseph as they remember the family birth stories. And we won’t be as those who are on the outside looking in, but rather we will do so as part of the family of Jesus. For family stories are never told in a vacuum. They are not just reminiscences, but rather they also reveal insights into the family and are meant to give us identity, purpose, meaning, and direction in our present day lives. So join us with your whole family as we tell the Jesus family Christmas stories; the Jesus family birthday stories. For these family stories ARE Christmas….and through them we are reoriented to joyfully celebrate Christmas brand new!
Wednesday, December 6th “Who is This Baby?”
When Sarah – our oldest daughter – was born we were going to the Seminary in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. We left for the hospital (“honey, we have to go NOW” as I timed the contractions..) at about 630a just as the sun was rising after a night of heavy snow. As a southern California boy I will never forget my anxiety as I was maneuvering through the snow and ice…yet in the middle of my anxiety Jane, looking at the beautiful morning as the sun shone off the fresh snow that clung to the trees, said, “what a beautiful day to have a baby.”…And when I tell this story to Sarah I look at her and say, “And that baby was you!” Tonight, we focus on the birth of Jesus. At the end of this night our goal is to lovingly say, “and this is who that baby was and is.” You won’t want to miss it. This is what Christmas is all about!
Wednesday, December 13th “What Will This Baby Do?”
You know the comments people make as well as I do; “Look at how strong he is, he could be a “fullback!” She is so fast – she just glides…I wonder if she’ll be a runner. Did you notice? He has almost perfect pitch already –goodness, he’s going to be a singer! Look at her rhythm!...She could be a great dancer…or maybe a drummer – a rock star! He is so smart..he will be able to do anything he wants to do…he could be a doctor or an architect or an engineer. She is just so smart and look at that personality…she could be the first woman president!” And so it goes. We all have dreams for not just our children but for all children. Tonight, we focus on what the baby Jesus will do. You won’t want to miss it. This is what Christmas is all about.
Wednesday, December 20th “What Does This Mean for Us?...for Me?
Every time the Summer Olympics rolls around, there are stories about the families of the athletes; how both the support of and success of their child has completely changed their lives. There are stories of families moving across the country so their son or daughter is able to train under the best coach. There are stories of how families have sacrificed and even sold their homes to give their son or daughter the opportunity to do what they are doing. And there are touching, personal stories of how a family has been brought together by the quest they are on together. Probably not one of these families at the birth of their child had any inkling of how their son or daughter would affect their lives, what it would mean in their lives, how it would change their lives. Tonight, we focus on what the birth of Jesus means for us – how He is meant to change our lives every day and forever! You won’t want to miss it. This is what Christmas is all about!