I love to tell the story for those who know it best
seem hungering and thirsting to hear it like the rest . . .
We took our high school kids on a field trip to High Point, North Carolina to see a production of “A Christmas Carol” today. The 10 a. m. performance played to a hall full of school kids of varying ages. The cast did a good job telling an incredibly familiar story. It’s not as though we were going to be surprised how Scrooge responded to the three ghosts who haunted him into embracing his humanity. As familiar as it is, it’s not a story that gets old for me. I love the idea that we can learn, that even the most jaded of us can find light again, that, as Huey Lewis sings, “You don’t need money, don’t need fame, don’t need no credit card to ride this train . . . .”
That’s the power of love.
Scrooge didn’t see anything new, he just saw it with new eyes – or a new heart – and it all looked different. He’s easy to judge. Seeing and hearing the story again and again, however, somehow makes him more understandable. I don’t mean that to justify him. I mean when life leaves us weary and burdened any of us can lose perspective. Today, as we watched, I was struck by how Scrooge moved from being motivated by guilt and shame with the first ghost to finding joy with the last one, once he realized he could make a positive difference with small gestures in the same way he had made life miserable for many with small gestures.
Driving back to school we passed a cemetery. On the side of the hill facing the road someone had taken long thin boards, painted them white, and laid them out to spell a message to passers by. One of the boys riding with me, who is autistic, read the words as he saw them, “GOO IS LOVE.”
I smiled. “I think it says, ‘GOD IS LOVE.’’
“That makes more sense,” he said.
God is Love. That’s the old, old story with an ending you can see coming for miles. It has been told over and over, and we are telling it again this year as we move with Mary and Joseph from Nazareth to Bethlehem, as we see shepherds running into town, Magi chasing stars, and Mary hiding things in her heart. Perhaps my eyes are so weary that I am looking at my reflection in the story, but they all seem tired to me. The shepherds were out sleeping in the field, the Magi had been on camels for more days than they could remember; Mary was on the verge of giving birth and rode a donkey across the country; Joseph was as perplexed as my student trying to figure out why GOO was love. All the tired travelers found their way to the manger, to the place where God poured God’s self into our exhausted existence to help us see something more.
On this tired night, I need to be reminded.