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Happy Birthday Baby Jesus

Friday, December 26th, 2008 at 00:08 ET

One of my favorite things about Christmas has always been Christmas Eve. My coworkers took notice this year when I said that there are only two days of the year that I won’t work: my birthday and Christmas Eve after 5:00 p.m. (So much so that Shawn was noticeably surprised when I worked on Christmas Eve — he missed the “after 5” part.) It’s a very important day to me and we had a lovely, relaxing party this year. I’m not saying that towards the end of the night I didn’t stretch-out on the floor after a few glasses of wine, I’m just saying that everyone enjoyed themselves.

I have a new favorite thing, tied with Christmas Eve. It’s not new, exactly: I’ve been doing it with Andrea for years. We sing “Happy Birthday” to baby Jesus. This year, however, that chorus of a rather over-sung ditty really put me in the Christmas mood. I like Christmas Eve because my family and friends always take a few minutes (or, at least, let me take a few minutes) to reflect on what Christmas is all about. I read “The Gift of the Magi,” a family tradition. The reflection is not meaningful because of the moral of the story, but rather because we share it together. As nice as the story is, it’s just another ornament — the fellowship is the beautiful part.

So today we were sitting around the breakfast table, forbidden from opening any presents, putting candles into monkey bread. The confection isn’t important, but the candles and the singing are. Having everyone there to fill-out the voice parts is important too. When we got to the end I was really thinking about how I am glad that Jesus was born. Maybe that sounds silly.

Jesus' 2008 Birthday "Cake" (this year, monkey bread)

Ever since my friend Jonathan introduced me to it, I’ve been in love with this song “Star of Wonder” by a group of sisters called The Roaches. I’ve been thinking a lot about the wise men and the shepherds and the angels and the star. I looked up at the sky tonight on my jog and saw the North star and made a wish.

It’s a powerful symbol. The image of a star reaches into our more primitive past when we didn’t know God directly but rather worshiped the heavens. It represents something old — ancient really — that has enough power to reach across thousands of trillions of miles and thousands of years. I like to think of myself as a wise man or a shepherd. I like to imagine being visited by a star or an angel and, out of the blue on an ordinary night, learning that a great mystery has been bestowed upon the world. I wonder if I would understand the awesomeness of the miracle. I wonder if I would be moved enough to abandon my post and make haste to go find Him. I wonder what it would be like to be in the presence of that little babe.

I think I would go. I think I would understand. I know I would take my friends along with me. And I think, when we got there, we’d offer up to him a song: “happy birthday, baby Jesus!”

Star of Wonder in the heavens
Wonder what you want of me
Should I follow you tonight?
Star of Wonder

I am just a lonely shepherd
Watching from a distant hill
Why do you appear to me?
Star of Wonder, if you will.

In the morning they’ll come looking
For the shepherd on the hill.
What would make her leave her flock
For surely she must love them still?

Star of Wonder in the heavens
Are you just a shining star
Or should I follow you tonight?
Star of Wonder, shining bright.

“Star of Wonder”
The Roaches
We Three Kings
© 1991 Terry Roach

Filed under: Spirituality and Faith

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