By Windy Barker
And there were in the same country, shepherds abiding in the fields, keeping watch over their flocks by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them, and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, “Fear not, for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be for all people.” KJV
When I was in the second grade, the children in my Sunday School class were tasked with memorizing a number of Bible passages, including Luke 2:8-14. Of course, in the mid-1960’s, that meant the King James Version. And so in spite of my progressive leanings in both the social and spiritual areas of my life, I find that the Christmas story, I mean THE Christmas Story, must be recited in the KJV.
At my house, the Christmas season didn’t automatically presage joy. Two alcoholic grandfathers—one with a mean streak—saw to that. The holidays seemed to bring out the worst in those two—the polar opposite of joy. And so one or both of my grandmothers would often stay at our house on Christmas Eve. My paternal grandmother, who also happened to be the music leader in the Primary Sunday School Department, knew very well that I could recite THE Christmas Story, and so she would insist on it. “Windy Gale, come tell your little sisters THE Christmas Story before we put them to bed.” And by the time I got through “Fear not!” and “great joy,” we were all a little bit closer to the holiday spirit.
In her autobiography One Writer’s Beginning, Eudora Welty wrote, “You learned the alphabet as you learned to count to ten, as you learned ‘Now I lay me’ and the Lord’s Prayer and your father’s and mother’s name and address and telephone number, all in case you were lost.” I couldn’t agree more, but I would add this passage to her list.
When we are lost, help us find our way home to joy. Amen.