In the land of Puzzling Tales there lived an eight year old boy by the name of Jason. Now in this land and in the neighborhood where Jason lived, the unexpected always happened. Instead of football they played kneeball; instead of the children “going to school” the teachers were busy “going to homes;” and in the summer it was not uncommon to see water freeze and in the winter time leaves grew on trees. It was a funny, strange place.
One incident in the land of Puzzling Tales stands out. When it was time for Jason’s ninth birthday, as usual, the unusual happened. Jason’s grandparents drove all the way across the state to help celebrate, but of course when they got to Jason’s neighborhood they went immediately to the Browns down the street and visited and stayed there.
When Jason’s mother finished frosting the birthday cake she gave it to the mailman to eat. And when all the kids in the neighborhood heard it was Jason’s birthday they exchanged gifts with one another, and of course, Jason got none because he wasn’t even invited to the party.
There was a blizzard of birthday cards. The post office had to hire extra workers to work long hours to handle the deluge of cards. Of course in the land of Puzzling Tales the expected was the unexpected and the kids, the moms and dads, grandparents, even a couple of dogs and a parakeet got cards, while poor Jason got none.
Finally about nine o’clock, in a fit of frustration and anger, Jason went out of his house, borrowed the school cheerleaders’ megaphone, rode up and down the street on his unicycle and shouted at the top of his lungs, “WHOSE BIRTHDAY IS IT, ANYWAY?” And the night was so silent that all night long echoes bounced off the mountain sides: “Whose birthday is it anyway?” “Whose birthday is it anyway?”
(The story about Jason was written by the Revered Arley Fadness of Shaloam Lutheran Church in Harrisburg, South Dakota)
Do you suppose there’s someone else who feels like Jason? In a few short weeks we will celebrate Jesus’ birthday, and yet isn’t it puzzling how every year we have to remind ourselves to stay focused on the “reason for the season.” Where did we get the idea that we should give other people gifts on Christmas? Wouldn’t it have been strange if the shepherds out in the fields and the magi would’ve had a $5 gift exchange instead?
If we celebrate Jesus’ birthday shouldn’t he be the one who receives the gifts? Often times during the advent season we focus on the gifts he brings us, the gifts of hope, peace, joy and love. But what if this advent season we focused on what kind of gifts we could give to Jesus. Like me, maybe you could sit down for a few minutes and think about the four best gifts we could give to Jesus. If you could give Jesus anything in the world, what four gifts would he appreciate most from you?
Here’s a starter: “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me…I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25:35,36,40
Grace and peace to you, Mike