Friday, December 19, 2008

Tell it over again

I’m one of those people who believe that there’s a lot to be gained by visiting something over and over. There are a number of things that benefit from such repetition. Good music, literature, movies, and historical venues all improve each time you listen to, read, watch, or explore them. And so do we. Each time we open a book, each time we hear a piece of music, each time we see a movie, each time we wander the grounds of a historic site, we are different. Between this time and last time, we have gone through experiences that have changed us, given us more breadth and depth, brought us to a new understanding of who we are and how we fit into the world we live in. We get that change from our past experiences and bring it to our current ones. And that, in turn, makes each of those experiences unique, even if they are somewhat the same. This is why it’s good to go back to things that moved us in the past. We will see more than we saw before because we are different. We will also see more in ourselves than we saw before because we are no longer the same.

There are books that I reread over and over, books I know by heart in places because I’ve read them so many times. Some are books I teach, others are books I read just for myself. There are several that I both read for myself and teach because I think it’s important for others to know them too. One such book is the Bible. In English Literature, we study it both for its meaning and its method; from a spiritual as well as literary perspective. It stands up well, either way. And students respond to it’s beautiful message of love and the language that delivers that message.

A favorite story from the Bible is the one we embrace at this time. The story of Jesus’ birth is wonderful, any way you look at it. I like it straight from the King James Version. But I also love it through the music of Haydn in his Messiah, and in the words of others, including Marjorie Holmes in her inspirational novel Two from Galilee. This is a little book I read fairly often at Christmas time. It tells the story of Jesus from His parents’ perspective, simply yet profoundly. I’ve read it so many times I’ve gone through two books, underlining lines that speak to me, lines I want to remember, ponder over later. The ones that haunt me most are those where Joseph tries to analyze the meaning of true love even while he exhibits its meaning in his own life. “To suffer that others may live, as Mary had suffered in birth. To deny oneself for those who are dearer to us than life. That is the true union of those who love. And that—that in the end was what would bring man back to be united with his God.”

In my mind, that’s what Christmas is all about: revisiting the meaning behind all the activity, year after year, finding new meaning, bringing us back to be united with our God. This Christmas, I invite you to tell the story of Jesus to your children, your friends. Tell it over again to all who will hear. Tell them what it means to you. Put it in your own words, making new its meaning to you. Put it in your own rhythm and rhyme, making unforgettable music of that song in your heart. Put it down on paper to reread another day, another year. Learn and grow from it. And tell it over again and again. It’s that good a story. It’s that important a reality. Jesus came to earth to give us Hope and a Future. He has promised that our life with Him will result only in good. He lived a life on earth, showing us that it could be done. That’s the story you can tell, over and over again.

1 comment:

sunny said...

Whenever I teach the Nov/Dec term in Korea we do the Baby Jesus story for religion class-all the verses about it and leading up to it in all the gospels in as many different versions as possible. It is a bless-ed, profound and eye opening experience to hear the impressions of those who are hearing the details of the story for the first time. Hint: the gentlemen in the class rate Joseph as the big hero of the story. And, they discuss how much they do or do not identify with him, and why, or why not. I hardly have to do a thing-except listen in awe and wonderment. It may not be what my intended point to take home was, but that's OK. Because Someone Else is in charge of that.