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The greatest story ever told

By Kirk Noonan

Next to the story of Jesus’ resurrection, the story of His birth is the greatest ever told. It has all the necessary elements: well-defined characters, action, drama, an evil antagonist, a family of likable protagonists, a message of hope, supernatural elements and a very good ending. Even better is that the story of Christ’s birth is true and it is not just a great story — it’s a gift of immeasurable value.

Step back in time with me to my family’s house in Lakewood, Colo., on Christmas Day circa 1980. The gift-opening tradition in our house was for one person to open while the others watched. With five children, the tradition my parents established brought order but also built anticipation and kept the morning from being a mad dash from one gift to the next.

On this morning everything was going as usual when my older brother Steve pulled a snow shovel from the closet and presented it to Kevin, another older brother, and me.

“With this, you guys can make money shoveling people’s walks and buy whatever you want,” Steve told us proudly as we inspected the shovel. “You could probably even go out today and make some money.”

Kevin and I put that shovel to work and made many dollars that financed everything from football cards to walkie-talkies to entrance at a recreational center where we played basketball. Steve’s gift taught Kevin and me about hard work, sacrifice, the value of saving and even how rewarding it can be to pay for something with money we earned. That shovel became one gift that kept on giving.

The same is true — though infinitely more so — with the story of Christ’s birth as recorded in Matthew 1:18 through 2:23. Each Christmas Eve our family had a huge dinner, sang Christmas songs and listened as my dad read the story of Christ’s birth from the Bible. It was a great tradition then, and still is today.

As I heard the story of Christ’s birth (or, as our family called it, The Christmas Story) each Christmas Eve, I couldn’t help but be impressed with the glimpses of God I received. I learned that God is a giver, He can do the impossible, He is a protector and deliverer, He is just, He is gracious, He is kind … the list could go on and on. But most importantly the story told me that God loves me. There is immeasurable value in a gift that tells you that.

And the best part of all this is that the story of His birth is just the beginning of the greatest story ever told. Hear the whole thing, and you’re likely never to be the same.

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