Because God loves stories."
-- Traditional Jewish Saying
I have a parenting column to write this morning for Dakota Connections, a bi-monthly newspaper put out by an editorial staff member of The Louisiana Baptist Message for North and South Dakota. I don't know if I'm an expert parent but I've had plenty of opportunities to practice my parenting skills. That's why I got the job (but mainly because my friend is the editor).
What I'm going to mention here is what I'm writing about in the column (I think anyway):
Stories define us. Stories teach us. Stories give us culture and values and soak into our cells more easily than plain unvarnished facts.
If you hang out with children you've heard them say, "Tell us a story."
It is a common thread through all cultures throughout time -- people tell stories.
Today, though, I asked myself a new question: how did Matthew know this story?
It had to be a story that had been told and retold.
But who told the original story?
The Wise Men must have told Mary and Joseph of their travels. How else could we know what Herod said to them?
I've never thought this until right now. Whenever we see this scene played out the Wise Men drop off their presents and leave. If I had been them I sure wouldn't have wanted to stay just five minutes after traveling for so long. They would have known this was their one and only chance to see the King of the Jews. They'd been thinking about this for years most likely. Their lives were dedicated to studying the heavens, the planets, the stars and other intellectual pursuits. This moment was the THE MOMENT of their lives. They have must have stayed for a little while at least. Maybe they shared food with the Holy Family.
I think what great validation Joseph and Mary must have received with their visit. And it would have just grown and overwhelmed them to see these very wealthy learned men bowing at Jesus' feet. To hear of their travels, their story -- to hear the part Herod was playing must have been terrifying.
Stories are necessary to life. They were Jesus' primary way of teaching the people. They are still Jesus' primary way of teaching us -- through our own lives and others we see God work. We all are walking stories.
These stories are precious and need to be told. Children will listen. They want to hear them.
Which one of us doesn't enjoy when we hear a new story from our grandparents? It is fun (that really isn't the right word but I don't know what the right word is) to see our family members, especially those who are older than we are, in a different light, at a different age. To hear about what they were like as children is enthralling, delightful even.
Wouldn't it be cool, so exciting to unearth a new gospel that was filled with stories of Jesus when he was a kid? Aren't you curious?
That's not going to happen, but we can share our stories, our grandparents' stories, our parents' stories. These stories connect us at a level only stories can go to.
"but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;" 1 Peter 3:15