First Day – December 2017

Dear friends …

At age 11, I was in my final appearance in a children’s Christmas “program.” Our southwestern Pennsylvania church was heated by a coal furnace. It was economical … the coal was donated by a local mine. There was no thermostat or means to regulate the heat. Sometimes if the fire really got burning, it made those steam registers along the walls hiss and pop. It was not uncommon to have the windows open for services in the dead of winter.

On that particular morning it was hot because of the furnace and the standing-room-only crowd. The children’s “choir” was singing our last song when on the final note I fainted and dropped to the floor. Only fuzzily do I remember a man carrying me to the church basement, where I “recuperated.” What a way to go out.

Children and Christmas programs are a great combination. Most of them will have that unexpected moment … no matter the hours of rehearsal, the perfectionist tendencies of the director or the seemingly simplest of matters … something will happen (and almost everybody enjoys that moment).

The fact is “The Christmas Story” is filled with the unexpected. The truth be know, almost any good story is that way. But this one is true, and the “unexpected” is huge. It starts with an old priest seeing an angel and being told he is going to become a dad. Of course there is Mary … a quiet, simple young lady who one day has Gabriel at her door, telling her she is going to bear the Messiah. Shepherds were surprised by an angel choir. Herod was surprised by the wise men. The entire life of Jesus was one unexpected event after another.

I have heard it said, “God does nothing but in answer to prayer.” I don’t believe that. Sometimes God just does things … big things … abnormal things … in ways nobody saw coming. And when he does, we might almost faint.

But then, “We’ll give Him all the glory … Christ, the Lord.”

dgk