Tell the Story of Jesus

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January 2021 Meditation

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews?” – Matthew 2:1-2

By Dr. Rick Lanford, GUMF Regional Vice President

It was my first Christmas appointed to The Methodist Home for Children & Youth in Macon. I overheard one of our volunteers who served as a receptionist say, “Rick is right here. Would you like to speak to him?”

An elementary school principal had called and asked me to please drive to the school and pick up one of our children named Donald. “He’s been fighting,” she said. I could tell she was concerned, but I was stunned. I said, “Wait, are you sure it is Donald who was fighting?” Several boys from The Methodist Home could engage in a little roughhousing, but Donald was not one of them–at least not to my knowledge. Donald was a stout, subdued, and sedate young boy. “It was Donald,” she responded, with a sharper edge now to her tone. “You need to come and get him.”

The school suspended Donald for three days. Children and youth, who get suspended from school, were assigned productive tasks to complete around the campus. Donald was to work for the maintenance department putting out the nativity display for Advent and Christmas. As I turned into The Methodist Home’s entrance one morning, I was shocked to see one of the wise men from our nativity display standing in the flower bed! I slowed down when I eyed a second Magi on the porch of the Administrative Building. My shock reached its culmination when I observed Donald dragging an object up the hill in the middle of the driveway. I pulled alongside him, lowered my window, and asked, “Donald, what are you doing?” In frustration, he answered, “I am putting these old men out!”

I could not help but stifle a chuckle. Not only was his choice of words comical, but the way he held the last Magi was hilarious. Donald held the last Magi around the head in a headlock that would make a professional wrestler proud. The humor of that moment quickly faded when it occurred to me that Donald needed to know whom he was carrying. I addressed him again, “Donald, do you know who these men are?” Donald answered, “No, sir.”

When Donald learned about the role the wise men played in the story of Christ’s birth, his countenance had softened. His next words touched me when he said, “Daddy Rick, no one has ever told me that story before.” I no longer needed to worry about stifling my laughter; I was holding back tears.

Later that year, Donald gave his heart to Jesus and became a beloved member of God’s family! The next year when he played one of the Magi in the Christmas pageant, he was pleased to give his special gift to the Christ child.

Every Christmas, I am reminded of this story about Donald when he erected the Nativity at The Methodist Home. O’ God, may we listen to our children, family, friends, and strangers learning of their joys and their sorrows. Furthermore, may we tell the story of Jesus without apology. It is our sacred commitment that no one will ever say, “No one has ever told me that story before.”