If I’ve heard that request once, I’ve heard it hundreds of times — literally! My granddaughter, Haley, has always loved hearing stories. We began our story-telling ritual several years ago, usually while in the car. By the time she was 3, she was requesting specific stories, even though she already knew them by heart. So I tried expanding to other stories — stories about her mom as a little girl. Or stories about things I did when I was little. At 3, those stories fell flat. It was then that I quickly learned the “rules” of story-telling from a grandma to her 3-year-old granddaughter.
Rule number 1 — the story always had to begin with “once upon a time.”
Rule number 2 — the story always had to end with “and they lived happily ever after.”
Rule number 3 — the story always had to be about her.
Haley never tired of hearing stories about herself. And, as I thought on that, I realized that’s true for most, if not all, of us. Is there any one of us who doesn’t also like to hear stories about us when we were little? Stories about some of the cute antics we did. Stories about the funny things we said. Stories about the day we were born. Stories that make us feel special. Loved.
And you know what? I think that’s probably true with Christ as well. I imagine Him stopping and listening intently every time someone repeats the circumstances of His birth. The stable. Mary. Joseph. The angel. The shepherds. The wise men. I imagine Him visualizing it with us. Perhaps wincing at portions of it, wishing circumstances could have been different. But mostly I suspect He smiles from ear to ear every time He hears the story repeated over and over and over again. And I suspect He never tires of hearing it told and hearing it being shared with others.
“Tell me a story, Grandma,” asks the now 6-year-old Haley.
“Well, Haley, let tell you a story about the greatest person who ever lived. Let me tell you about the day Jesus was born.”
“Once upon a time Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register.
“So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of The Lord appeared to them, and the glory of The Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ The Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’
“Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.’
“When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened which The Lord has told us about.’
“So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen Him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.” (Luke 2:1-20)
“That was a good story, Grandma.”
“Yes, honey, it is. It’s part of the greatest story ever told.”