Here are three stories. I should say, three stories about one story.
This time of year when I visit shut-ins I often read the nativity story from the Gospel of Luke. Three stories about that one story.
Story one: She is in a care center and pushing 100 she finds it is an effort to rise, to eat, to navigate her days. When I read the Christmas story she sits very still with her eyes closed. Is she napping or listening, or both? When I finish we share a moment of silence. And then she says, without opening her eyes, “It is such a familiar story, and yet it is always surprisingly new.”
Story two: After listening to the birth narrative I ask her what portion spoke to her today. She says the part about finding no lodging. And then she tells me a story. She says that once when she was reading this to children and got to the “no room in the inn” part, a little boy, all concern, raised his hand and said, “He can come over to my house. We won’t mind.”
Story three: The professional always-in-motion pauses to chat me up. And how is this time of year for you, pastor? Of course, busy. But I always remind people busy and beautiful. As long as we find deep meaning in what we do busy never is just busy. Bad busy is occupied without purpose. My friend says, “Every time this year I just throw the white glove down to God with a little challenge: ‘Look, Lord, I’ve heard this over and over. I’ve got it by memory. I dare you to surprise me with something I’ve missed.’ Darned if that doesn’t always happen.”
So familiar, yet so new. He can come over to my house. Go ahead, God, surprise me.