As announced earlier this week, we’d like to share something with our readers that is not only special to us, but that we hope may be a source of blessing and encouragement for you. Beginning with today’s regular Saturday morning post and continuing through the end of the year, we’ll be sharing Christmas-themed excerpts from my book, Right Side Up Thinking in an Upside Down World, so here we go with this week’s selection . . .
Someone I had just met a few minutes earlier stopped our conversation almost in mid-sentence with an unexpected and out of context question. “Well,” he said, as he paused and looked at me intently, “I was wondering, just how old are you, anyway?” I wanted to say, “Old enough to know not to ask questions like that of people I just met,” but thought better of it. Side-stepping it with a dose of sarcastic humor was briefly appealing, but I figured Jesus might not like that, either. So, honesty and openness won out and I reluctantly told him my age.
He cocked his head to one side for a moment as though deep in thought and said, “Hmm … I would have figured you for at least ten years older than that.” Then he followed it up with, “But don’t take it the wrong way.” “How many ways are there?” I wondered. The sudden wave of snappy retort possibilities created a gridlock in my brain that left me with a blank look and no response at all — which probably made me look even older.
“Old” Isn’t always a Bad Thing ~
The occasion didn’t put “old” things in a positive light for me, especially the one I see in the mirror, but another perspective eventually occurred to me. If someone offered me a box of gold coins, for instance, that had been buried in the ground for 2,000 years, I’m pretty sure I’d take it. I don’t think I’d tell him to come back and see me when he could come up with something newer, more up to date, and easier to handle. Neither would I be offended if someone offered me an original manuscript of one of Shakespeare’s plays because it was old and hard to read. “Old” isn’t always a deficit. Sometimes it’s priceless.
Everything about it was already “old” when Christmas and I first met. My grandmother, who introduced me to Christmas, was already old at the time—well, at least from the perspective of a little boy who was probably half the age of her newest apron. Our cherished little “sit-about” decorations, and our collection of delicate ornaments, like the hands that gently unwrapped them every December, had been around for generations.
Old, But Still Working ~
But for Grandma and me, “old” wasn’t a problem. We didn’t think of our Christmas stuff as “old” in the sense that it was outdated and no longer significant, or that age had diminished their role in our family’s celebrations. Those little ceramic figures, worn from years of handling, and the fragile glass ornaments and those strands of lights may have been old, but they were faithful. Well, OK … I must admit that the lights were afflicted with an attention-seeking disorder that was chronic, but after a little loving manipulation, they always came around.
Every year in early December, our old Christmas “stuff ” emerged from its sanctified resting place in the back of the hall closet, and it never failed to work its special magic and transform our house. It was just a box of old stuff, but it never failed to change our world from drab and ordinary into something that felt bright, and new, and full of hope. Like Grandma, and like the Christmas story itself, our holiday things were old, but that didn’t matter when they found their familiar December duty stations in our house. Their impact wasn’t measured in terms of clocks and calendars, and the only effect that time seemed to have on them was to make them more special with every passing year.
Looking for a New Slant ~
As the Christmas season approaches again, preachers, teachers, speakers, and writers all over the world will struggle to find some new slant on a story that’s been around for over two millennia. Every syllable of the text will be scrutinized afresh, eyes will peer at the same changeless and familiar words, anxiously searching for something not really hidden, but somehow yet unseen. Prayers will implore divine help in finding some new insight, some fresh, stimulating new approach. Brains will be wracked for some previously unuttered thought that will help the story not seem so “old”—as though familiarity has rendered the astounding reality of the event itself somehow insufficient. Its profundity and simplicity can confound us. Children recite it, but this uncomplicated story is the inspired account of how the omnipotent God of all creation made His entrance into the world of human beings as one of us. It’s overwhelming.
No wonder we obsess over every minor nuance, magnify immaterial details, and proceed to preach lengthy sermons about unverifiable subplots. How can we effectively elaborate on the event itself, when the meaning is far more extensive than we have the capacity to grasp? It’s frustrating. This familiar and uncluttered story challenges us. Our best words barely escape the level of insult when compared to the simple ones He provided, yet we cannot stand in its presence and not feel compelled to speak, to write, to sing, to do something. Every year the truth calls us back to the core. So, we turn to the Gospels and wrestle to lay hold of the power of this “old” story every year, and every year we lose, and in the losing, we win. We cannot do it justice, and we cannot let it be. Though it won’t let us walk away feeling quite as proud as we otherwise might, or stand quite as tall as we’d like, we never seem to leave it having our weakness feel so strong.
… To read more, the e-book version is just $1.99 on Amazon now, making it easily affordable for nearly everyone – and possibly an idea for an extra little stocking stuffer. You don’t even need a Kindle reader to access it. E-book readers are included on most computers, tablets, and smartphones, but if you don’t have one, the free app can easily be downloaded directly from the Amazon site for the book on almost any device.
“TWEETABLES” ~ Click to Tweet & Share from the pull quotes below. Each quote links directly back to this article through Twitter.
- “ . . . this uncomplicated story is the inspired account of how the omnipotent God of all creation made His entrance into the world of human beings as one of us. It’s overwhelming.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “Every year the truth calls us back to the core. So, we turn to the Gospels and wrestle to lay hold of the power of this “old” story every year, and every year we lose, and in the losing, we win.”@GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “We cannot do (the Christmas story) justice, and we cannot let it be. Though it won’t let us walk away feeling quite as proud as we otherwise might, or stand quite as tall as we’d like, we never seem to leave it having our weakness feel so strong.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
Look for all the Christmas Stories and more in Ron’s book, “Right Side Up Thinking in an Upside Down World ~ Looking at the World through the Lens of Biblical Truth”
Also, check out the Kindle e-version for just $1.99. Another stocking stuffer idea … just one that’s in the ‘cloud’! (No Kindle device needed!)
Click HERE for details …
Copyright © 2017 Ron Gallagher, Ed.S. All rights reserved.