Thursday, December 24, 2009

Stories we tell our children

Some of my strongest memories of Christmas Eve involve reading and my fathers voice.

My father was broken - as all human beings are - in significant ways, but he had many gifts.

He was a wonderful singer with a glorious tenor voice.
He was a paid soloist in our church; in fact, for years, he used to say that God knew the only way to get him in the front doors of His house before he could get into his heart was to pay him money!

My dad even started and participated in a singing ministry to the men in the NJ Penitentiary in Rahway for years.

On Christmas Eve, we would gather around the tree; it's lights providing the only illumination for the room and, for several magical moments, my fathers voice would be the only sound as he read two Christmas stories.

One 'secular' tale:
and one profoundly spiritual.

This wonderful book was a precursor to "pop-up" books.
Starting with the basic manager scene and going through 9 pages of adding increasingly complex layering, the story was told of our Saviours birth; images and phrasing that resonant with me even today.

I have inherited both these books from my childhood.

I read them to my children as they were growing up.
I didn't inherit my fathers voice - although I did inherit my own forms of brokenness - but I have no doubt that these same stories, in my own quavering soprano/alto voice, form equally potent memories for my sons.

The stories we tell our children matter.
Whether they're written in other peoples words and phrases or crafted with our own unique voice.

The most comforting message, for me, from the story told this night, is that we are not alone.
We are loved by God who sent His son - small, tiny and as vulnerable as we are- and He will make all that is broken whole.

The stories we tell ourselves matter too.

Merry Christmas.
May you, may we all, find peace in the Promise born tonight.

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