“Maybe Christmas, the Grinch thought, doesn’t come from a store.” Dr. Seuss
I had the opportunity to fill in for our fourth grade religious ed. teacher just before Christmas. The lesson centered on Jesus’ life. I asked the children to read aloud one of my favorite essays, One Solitary Life. After reading it together, I asked them to re-read it quietly to themselves and to underline a line or two that surprised or touched them in some way about this solitary life. The children’s answers were thoughtful and provoked much discussion. Several children were surprised by how young Jesus was, others found it difficult to believe he hadn’t seen a lot of the world, for one child, a sense of sadness came over her, thinking that his friends deserted him, and the fact that he was buried in someone else’s grave stunned them.
It’s the last line of the essay that always evokes a heartfelt response in me. There has been no power, principality, or government that has affected mankind more than this one solitary life. This is the joy of Christmas. From the most humble of beginnings, to the most horrid death, for Christians, Jesus remains the Light of the World. Nothing, not even darkness or death, can claim victory over this Light.
Take time in the quiet to read each line of One Solitary Life. Let yourself be drawn into it’s meaning. Then, reflect on its significance in your life today. When you ponder this Light in your world, for what are you grateful? What surprises you or gives you pause? What touches you inside?
One Solitary Life
He was born in an obscure village
The child of a peasant woman
He grew up in another obscure village
Where he worked in a carpenter shop
Until he was thirty
He never wrote a book
He never held an office
He never went to college
He never visited a big city
He never traveled more than two hundred miles
From the place where he was born
He did none of the things
Usually associated with greatness
He had no credentials but himself
He was only thirty- three
His friends ran away
One of them denied him
He was turned over to his enemies
And went through the mockery of a trial
He was nailed to a cross between two thieves
While dying, his executioners gambled for his clothing, the only property he had on earth
When he was dead
He was laid in a borrowed grave
Through the pity of a friend
Nineteen centuries have come and gone
And today Jesus is the central figure of the human race
And the leader of mankind’s progress
All the armies that have ever marched
All the navies that have ever sailed
All the parliaments that have ever sat
All the kings that ever reigned put together
Have not affected the life of mankind on earth
As powerfully as that one solitary life.
(written by Dr. James Allan in 1926)
May this Christmas bring our focus toward this one solitary life, today, and as we move into the New Year. May Jesus’ humility, mercy, and love permeate our days moving forward.
Merry Christmas Everyone!