The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Where Christmas begins

Our unrequited longings usher us close to its dawning

Once upon a time .... That's how good stories begin. It's the way Christmas begins.

Once upon a time God sent Gabriel, a celestial errand boy, to Mary, a young woman in a town called Nazareth.

Once upon a time there was a pregnant woman and a lonely man trudging into a town far from home where they could find no lodging, no warmth, no friendly face.

Once upon a time shepherds were watching their sheep when a great light and singing — are those angels, Bob? — appeared above them. They hugged the ground in fear, but received far more than they could hope for.

Good stories, but Christmas begins in a place far closer — and yet infinitely more remote — than these tales suggest. We can find our way to its dawning through almost any truly human story, if we'll only listen to our secret pains and longings.

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