I attended a local basketball game last week just before holiday break between two Christian high school teams. The game was very competitive, action was non-stop, and the fans were into it. The atmosphere was energetic and amiably raucous, normal for a Friday night athletic event. Action-packed it surely was.
But halftime was different than “normal”. With both teams rejuvenating themselves in their locker rooms, a rocking chair was brought out to center court facing the home fans’ bleachers. An announcer introduced a teacher from the hosting school who was going to read the Christmas story. I thought to myself, “I bet this will be a funny, and hopefully respectful, parody of the familiar biblical story — sort of like a cleaned-up Saturday Night Live bit to entertain the mostly Christian audience.
But no. It was much simpler and truer than that. The young religious studies teacher came up, sat down in the rocking chair and invited anyone to come down and sit around him on the gym floor for the story-telling. Most of the teen aged student section, including several cheerleaders and younger kids gathered ‘round the reader as he announced the text of Luke 2:1-20 and began to read from his Bible. And then some children from the visiting team’s bleachers walked across the floor to sit with the others to listen.
Verse 20 of the Bible story concluded: “The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.” The End. The audience in the house gave applause to the Good News that they had heard and seen. I was genuinely moved. It was a rare and precious basketball halftime moment. Then I thought to myself, “Gosh, and I was expecting a comedy sketch to humor us fans through an un-action packed halftime break.” But Luke 2 is where the action is. The good news of God coming to earth as Jesus (and living, teaching, healing, dying, rising) for us is appropriate anytime. Yes, welcomed! Needed! Transforming every time!