For God so loved the world, he told us a story.
Every Christmas Eve, my family would gather around the tree and my father would read Luke chapter two, King James Bible. I can still recite the first verse. “And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.” I believed it partly because it was the opening line of the greatest story ever told, but mostly because this big story enclosed the little story of my father.
All seven of us kids knew that story as well as the one from Luke two. Christmas Eve 1951, when Dad had a conversion experience that forever changed his life. He was a lost man, he said, and then Jesus found him. My father lived the story and found it to be true. As it happens, this is the only way to know the story’s power—to live into it.
Children live the story by dressing in lamb’s wool, Bedouin robes and feathered wings. But after we are too old for the pageant, many of us begin to doubt the tale of Bethlehem. In the end, it’s a love story: God sending infinite love, hoping for our feeble love in return. The only way to know it’s true is to step into the story, take your part and return the love.
And I happen to know that Christmas Eve is an especially good time to do this.