Read it again!

It’s always intrigued me – our thirst for stories…

“Read it again, Mommy!” “Tell it again, Daddy!” Children demand to be read the same books – over and over. They ask for the same stories, again and again. There was a stretch when my own kids were small that they insisted we read the same three books. Every night. Without fail. For months on end. (I’m pretty sure I could still recite Goodnight, Moon at the drop of a hat.)
And honestly, we adults aren’t all that much different, are we? How many of us have re-read the books we love, or have watched that favorite movie or television series more times than we can count? (Isn’t NetFlix wonderful!)

And we never get tired of the story of that First Christmas, do we? Angels and shepherds; (was there a donkey or not?); long trip; “no room at the inn”; new baby, born in a manger (what are swaddling clothes anyway?); a star and wise men three – and don’t forget the camels. A story we know inside and out – and yet we wait breathless, each time we hear it. What is it that makes us crave stories, even, maybe especially, familiar stories that evoke memories?

Could it be that God wired us that way? That our Creator knew that we were going to need to hear our own stories, his story again and again. Peter tells his original readers, first century Christians, “I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have.” (2 Peter 1:12) Peter wasn’t telling his listeners anything new – he was telling the story of Jesus’ birth and life, the lessons he taught and the miracles he performed, his death and resurrection – not to a new audience, people who had never heard the gospel before. No, he was telling and re-telling these stories to people who had heard them all before. Why? Peter says it is in order to “refresh your memory” so that “you will always be able to remember these things.” (2 Peter 1:13, 15)

God knew that if his people didn’t hear the stories of how very much he loved them, of his plan to send a savior, of his way to bring them all back home to him again – if they didn’t hear these stories, again and again, they would forget. Forget their God and his love, Forget, in fact, who (and whose) they were. And so, we are a people who love stories, who can’t wait to hear it again.

So, this time of year invites us to tell those stories –to share that well-worn tale of a baby born in Bethlehem so many years ago. And, as we hear that story once more, to listen again for the echo of God’s love

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