She was taught to disbelieve.
Any notions of fantasies or make-believe lay dying, nipped in the bud.
And she was only six years old,
A steady walker toward the road of cynicism her mother had painstakingly paved before her.
Divorced and jaded by a world of pain and broken dreams, she only thought to protect her child’s tiny heart. A kind and handsome neighbor thought differently and procured an introduction to Santa. Hired by a large department store on 34th street, this Santa brought joy and love to the children lined up to meet him. The miracle unfolded slowly as Susan befriended Santa and dared to believe. Her mother soon thawed and repented of her unbelieving ways. Miracle on 34th street remains one of my favorite holiday classics, a tale of hope born and faith restored.
As my Luke hit grade school, he began to question Santa. I’m sure it was a topic of heated debate in the second grade class. We didn’t want him to spill the beans to his little brother so our mantra became—the Believer is the Receiver. Even though he didn’t really believe, he had just enough questions to keep his mouth shut and let his little brother keep his innocent faith a few more years. To this day, one of our biggest traditions remains the overflowing stockings Santa fills every Christmas eve.
Each Christmas season we focus on a beautiful story woven through a history of promises, trials and pain,
The story of a common young woman chosen to be the mother of our Lord.
This girl who birthed a babe in a barn, was host to angels and shepherds and travelers from afar. Foreign men of prominent stature who brought gifts of great value and wonder of wonders, called her tiny babe a King.
But this is no fairy tale to believe in.
This true story tells of a God who came to earth and humbled himself into the weakened body of human form. He trod the path of flesh and blood in a world fraught with hatred, injustice and ill.
Because he loved us so.
He couldn’t stand to see us lost and adrift.
There existed no shovel big enough to dig us out of the mire that trapped us.
So he was born to a young girl, a babe in a manger. No comforts or riches for he a King stooped low,
Bowed down to our ignoble level.
He sent his beloved son to save us from certain death and rescue us to live with him in heaven forever. John 3:16
And we sing:
Oh little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by
Yet in thy dark streets shineth, the everlasting light
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.
For Christ is born of Mary, and gathered all above
While mortals sleep the angels keep their watch of wondering love
Oh morning stars together, proclaim thy holy birth.
And praises sing to God the king, and peace to men on earth.
“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
He promised Israel centuries ago.
He promises us today.
And he NEVER EVER breaks his promises.
Believing in his promises falls into the not-always-easy-zone. But I can’t fathom the alternative so I believe. It’s easy when my prayers are answered promptly in the way I imagined. It’s not so easy when the darkness descends and the tunnel gets deeper and the prayers seem to bounce of it’s stony walls.
When I can’t fathom a reason.
Or understand the silence.
But I believe.
I believe when the sick are not healed
I believe even when the unfaithful are not restored.
I believe when the world closes in and the prognosis is bleak.
And I beg you to keep the faith.
Let your hope never waver, without it we have nothing but a yawning abyss hungry for our souls.
So fight the good fight
The choice is yours,
The believer is the receiver.
So on this Christmas day—determine to choose well.
Your life depends on it.
James 1:6-8 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.