The serious thought: several people have forwarded me the YouTube music video, “Where’s the line to see Jesus?” It’s based on a question asked by a little boy at a shopping mall. Seeing long lines of children waiting to see Santa, the little boy approaches the singer/songwriter and asks, “Where’s the line to see Jesus?”
If you want to see the video yourself, I’d recommend the original version over the newer, slick, professionalized version (fair warning: both versions are over-the-top schmaltzy).
But it isn’t the video’s schmaltziness that I want to address. It’s the question in the video’s title: “Where’s the line to see Jesus?”
And I don’t just mean the long line that will form at the time of communion during Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and regular Sunday morning services (although that definitely is a line to not only see, but “taste and see” Jesus!)
No, I hope you know that the answer to the question, “Where’s the line to see Jesus” is “In those places where Jesus told us he can be found.”
And where did Jesus tell us he could be found?
“I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” (Matthew 25:35-36)
Jesus is found not only in Word and Sacrament and in times of prayer, but -- if we’re going to take what he says seriously -- he’s found in the form of a hungry person picking up a meal at Grace to Go; she’s a child thirsty for clean water in a Honduran village; he’s a neighbor you haven’t met in your cul-de-sac; she’s the working-poor mother shopping for her children’s clothes at the thrift store, and he’s the convicted felon serving a life sentence at a prison you’ve never been to.
To be sure, the lines to see Jesus in those places are shorter than those to see Santa! But thanks to a strong and growing consciousness that we really do see the face of Christ in the least and the lost, the people of St. James’ are standing in each and every one of those lines, and those lines are growing.
That’s my serious point.
My whimsical point is to share a fun poem someone forwarded to me recently, in the spirit of helping us all have a simpler Christmas:
’Twas the night before Christmas & out on the ranch
The pond was froze over & so was the branch.
The snow was piled up belly-deep to a mule.
The kids were all home on vacation from school,
And happier young folks you never did see--
Just all sprawled around a-watchin’ TV.
Then suddenly, some time around 8 o’clock,
There came a surprise that gave them a shock!
The power went off, the TV went dead!
When Grandpa came in from out in the shed
With an armload of wood, the house was all dark.
“Just what I expected,” they heard him remark.
“Them power line wires must be down from the snow.
Seems sorter like times on the ranch long ago.”
“I’ll hunt up some candles,” said Mom. “With their light,
And the fireplace, I reckon we’ll make out all right.”
The teenagers all seemed enveloped in gloom.
Then Grandpa came back from a trip to his room,
Uncased his old fiddle & started to play
That old Christmas song about bells on a sleigh.
Mom started to sing, and first thing they knew
Both Pop and the kids were all singing it, too.
They sang Christmas carols, they sang “Holy Night,”
Their eyes all a-shine in the ruddy firelight.
They played some charades Mom recalled from her youth,
And Pop read a passage from God’s Book of Truth.
They stayed up till midnight -- and, would you believe,
The youngsters agreed ‘twas a fine Christmas Eve.
Grandpa rose early, some time before dawn;
And when the kids wakened, the power was on.
“The power company sure got the line repaired quick,”
Said Grandpa -- and no one suspected his trick.
Last night, for the sake of some old-fashioned fun,
He had pulled the main switch -- the old Son-of-a-Gun!