It was in my early adolescent years that I became so familiar with my family’s Christmas tree ornaments putting them on the tree in my jammies. The familiar glass ornaments that only mom wanted to touch, the HUGE incandescent strings of lights that got super-hot to the touch, and those waxy candles I hated to touch because they somehow made me nauseous.
I knew that the story of Santa was based on a character from long ago and that he didn’t climb down chimneys exactly at midnight every Christmas eve. I didn’t care, I got gifts, ‘nuff said. I knew the tooth fairy wasn’t real and neither was the Easter Bunny. Of course, everyone knows Easter was a just a time to wear nice new clothes and open Easter basket candy – like Christmas and Halloween smashed together…and in the Spring. Yeah, that’s it.
But I also remembered questioning that ‘If all these other characters weren’t real, was Jesus really real?’ Well, he was the only one that was a real man in the history books. His book was thick and not just a few thick-pages of animated pictures and fuzzy spots on the page for your parents to get you to rub and then smile. But, how was I supposed to be sure that he was really real?
I asked him to show me signs: make ﬁreballs shoot from my ﬁnger tips when I got scared in the dark; ﬁx the ﬂat tire on my banana seat bike if I concentrated hard enough; and repair the cracked car windshield it I put both hands over it and strained hard enough before my parents came out to go to my grandparents for Turkey. He didn’t. Obviously, my skepticism wasn’t swayed.
Then came the 5th grade Christmas show. I was long over the Santa, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy stage and now I wondered if Christmas must be true because the story about Silent Night was being taught and watched by grown-ups. I was playing guitar back then when the music teacher at Lake Center Elementary in Portage asked me to stay after class one day. She handed me some sheet music and asked me if I would be willing to practice it for the Christmas show.
Wikipedia says the lyrics to Silent Night were written by Father Joseph Mohr. All I know is that the melody and music were written by Franz Xavier Gruber, the church organist, and that was my character. One story tells it that the mice had eaten through the bellows so the organ was not usable, so Franz played the guitar instead. But, the thing that hit me was that a priest composed the song because he was on a snowy hillside meditating about God who inspired him to describe the peaceful night overlooking his village below and how he also thought about that ﬁrst night of Jesus’ birth.
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” (Micah 5:2)
“When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.” (Luke 2;15-16)
It was from that program on that I realized that people devoted their life to Jesus. Whole towns took time to sing about him. Even though my parents were pretty much Christmas and Easter Christians, the stories were now real to me.
I said the words many times to Jesus asking him if he would come into my heart and rescue me from the challenges of temptation and sin. There was a long time I was just a ‘fan’ Jesus and his forgiving nature. It really hasn’t been until the last couple of decades that I now realize that He wants me to have fullness in EVERY part of my life. I realize I have been so foolish to miss out on the right perception of him, but, he has been patient and faithful during my time at KCC.
It is like the more I seek him, the more lights turn on…he cool white LEDs that last forever, not the ﬁre hazard primary color super-hot bulbs that burn you and don’t last long.
Consider and Discuss:
When did Christmas—and Jesus—become ‘real’ to you?
How has following Him taught you about “Life to the Full”?
What does that mean for you at Christmastime?