The Christmas Story Never Grows Old
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
December 20, 2009

Luke’s account of Jesus’ birth: few words, huge impact, high drama. This story won’t let go of us. It lingers. We feel compelled to read it again and again.

Luke 2 is a great story because it tells us of the greatest miracle. God became a man. May we never escape the awesome wonder of Spirit donning flesh.

I was reminded of how much we love this story when I heard about and investigated the artist Raphael’s obsession with Mary and the Christ child.

Raphael, Michelangelo, and Leonardo da Vinci are ranked as the greatest painters of the Renaissance. One analyst said God may have given the spirit of beauty to Raphael in a measure which He never gave it to anyone else.

Raphael painted Mother and Child again and again for years, but could not satisfy himself. Each of his pictures of them is beautiful, yet he never thought any of them was perfect enough. He never felt he had fully captured the beauty of the scene. He was always drawn back to the story.

Raphael efforts were prodigious. He died at 37, but left behind a huge body of works, including a staggering number of portraits of Mary and Jesus. He never grew tired of painting his reflections on the scene.

The Christmas story never grew old to Raphael, and never grows old to us. Its carols are always fresh. It has a staying power.

This theme of the Gospel story never growing old or boring was introduced to me as a youngster through songs written by the poet Katherine Hankey.

I love to tell the story;
‘Tis pleasant to repeat.
What seems each time I tell it,
More wonderfully sweet.

I remember my favorite rock ‘n’ roll songs grew old. I quickly went from one favorite to another. I wasn’t sure the Gospel wouldn’t follow suit. It didn’t. Many years later now, by my own experience I know Katherine Hankey was right.

I love to tell the story;
For those who know it best
Seem hungering and thirsting
To hear it like the rest.

Even those of us who have heard the story a lifetime feel it is always new and fresh. Hankey shared two reasons why the story never grows old.

Tell me the story often,
For I forget so soon,
The early dew of morning
Has passed away at noon.

One, it helps us accomplish a major goal in our lives. Hearing the story keeps the hustle and bustle of life from crowding God out of our thoughts. If we don’t meditate on the story often we too easily get overly busy.

Tell me the story always,
If you would really be,
In any time of trouble,
A comforter to me.

Two, Hankey knew the story would never grow old because it comforts us in troubles. This is important because difficulties are our recurring lot in life. In times of trouble this world cannot help us at the deepest depths of our need. Hearing the story brings me back to God often. It comforts me by reminding me God, for my sake, took on Himself my flesh. It brings me comfort to remember He condescended to my level of deepest need.