By Major Chick Yuill –
Regular readers of this column-and I’m assured that there are some-may recall that some time ago I told you about Margaret’s trip back to England to see our daughters. To be honest, I told you more about my struggles to stay alive in her absence than anything related to her travels. I know; I’m a typical selfish, dependent male. Be patient with me. I’m improving slowly.
Being the fair-minded person she is, Margaret insisted that, when the opportunity arose and funds were available, I should have the chance to visit the girls. So, just the other week, I flew to the United Kingdom to spend a whole week with Catriona and Jenni. A week isn’t long for such a long journey, and the weather was cold and wet most of the time, but I didn’t mind at all. Like any other dad, I was just grateful to be able to spend some time with my kids.
The highlight of the visit came in the beautiful old Richmond Theater just outside of London where Catriona was playing the role of Constance Bonicieux in a production of “The Three Musketeers.” I had never seen her on the professional stage before, and I watched with a mixture of pride and wonder. In fact, I went to the theater two nights in a row. The first night I watched Catriona; the second night I watched the play!
At one point on the second night, Catriona’s efforts as a thespian brought a burst of spontaneous applause from the audience I didn’t join in the applause. I just glowed with pride, blew my nose, and brushed away a tear which had inexplicably welled up in my eyes. It was then that Jenni leaned across and whispered to me, “But we remember when she used to sing solos using a hairbrush for a mike!” I chuckled at the remark, and didn’t think too much about it at the time, but I haven’t been able to get it out of my head since, and I think I know why.
What the rest of the audience saw was a young actress on the stage, looking totally confident with the role she was playing. Jenni and I saw a whole lot more, however, because we know who Catriona really is. We remember the kid playing games, doing her homework, practicing the piano, bringing home her friends, sometimes arguing with her parents and even quarreling with her sister, pretending to be a big star with a hairbrush for a mike. We remember the beginnings of that ambition to be an actress, the auditions, the initial rejections, the tears, the gathering up of enough courage to do one more audition, the excitement of being accepted for drama college, the elation of winning that first professional engagement. Like I said, we know who she really is and our love and appreciation are all the greater. The audience could not possibly know her like that just from seeing her in a play.
As Christmas approaches all too rapidly, the recollection of that moment in the theater becomes all the more poignant. Some will see Jesus as the sweet little baby in the manger; some will see him as a great moral teacher; some will see him as the founder of a world religion; some will see him as a great historical figure; some, alas, will see him as nothing more than a myth or legend, irrelevant to their lives.
But we know who he really is. We know that, in order to understand Jesus, you need to go back beyond his birth in Bethlehem, back beyond the beginning of the Jewish nation, back beyond the moment of creation, back to eternity itself, back to the halls of heaven and the heart of God. We know that the baby in the manger, the Rabbi with his disciples, the victim on the cross, the body in the tomb, the Risen Lord of Easter Morning is none other than the eternal, creative Word of God made flesh. We know that Jesus is Immanuel-God with us. And that knowledge makes all the difference. Our love and appreciation are all the greater for our recognition of his true identity.