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FRONT-PORCH GOSPEL: Still the greatest story ever told

Good week to all: Welcome to the “front porch.”

The Gospel of Luke – with little doubt – is the loveliest book ever written. During these chilly, festive days of December I think we appreciate Luke’s gospel and the physician’s brilliant storytelling ability more than ever.

Did you know that Luke alone tells the story of those shepherds tending their sheep on a silent, holy night? Of all the gospel writers, only he tells of the angel appearing suddenly to these scared men trembling beneath a bright light. But they get a front-row seat to one of the world’s greatest announcements that night, a narrative we’ve heard a thousand times:

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour which is Christ the Lord.”

Luke, of course, does not stop there, but takes us on a long, powerful journey, all the way to a tomb outside Jerusalem where an angel again appears – this time to some grieving but faithful women – with a glorious declaration: “He is not here, but is risen!”

Luke’s account – from the beginning that spectacular night to the powerful grave-bursting victory – is the greatest story ever told. Shakespeare, Hemingway, nor Twain can compare.

Thinking back, I am always glad at this time of the year that Mama, Preacher Miller, and Grandma made it part of their life’s mission to tell me and many others who walked this red-clay countryside the world’s greatest story – and I am glad they taught how to live the story, too.

We know many of you particularly need to hear this story today, and we are blessed to tell it again, as we started telling it each year back last century here in this place. Our story here is one of the reasons we like to see a year wind down: During these wintry days of December the world focuses on this Jesus more than any other time. The scenes and songs that fill the air are heartwarming, and the story of the babe born in a manger is inspiring. It makes us forget a little of the trouble brewing all around us.

Years ago – when I was a young boy of almost eleven who had recently gone down into the water with Preacher Miller – I was asked to step up and lead a song at the old, red brick church of Christ building here in this Georgia hometown. I’ll always remember the title of the hymn. After six decades, I hope its title reflects our life’s story just a bit: It is the old hymn, “I love to tell the story.” This story is a personal thing, for sure.

We all love to tell it more now than ever. It means more. We’ve had more years to weigh its value. We have the thrill of blessings and the burden of failures to give it more meaning.

But there’s more to the story, and we must tell it all, even as Dr. Luke told it all two millennia ago.

Of course, it is still the story of a beautiful child born in Bethlehem, born among the animals in a barn.

But it’s more.

It’s the story of a Man who eats with sinners and heals the diseases of the sick and gives strength to the tired.

It’s the story of more than a man – the son of God – who takes men whose lives are battered and torn, and He molds them so that when they walk away you hardly recognize who they are at all – kind of like the old violin.

It’s the story of the blind man who has never seen one thing – until he meets the Carpenter from Galilee. That evening, this blind man watches, I am sure, the scattering of the sun’s oranges and blues, yellows and reds across the western horizon.

Ah, there’s more to this story than can be told in one short visit here in our little meeting place. But we have to remember that it’s a story of a Man who carries a cross up a hill called Calvary, and it’s a story of a man with nail scars in His hands.

The biography doesn’t end that dark day outside Jerusalem, though. Triumphantly – as the evangelist Luke records beautifully – there’s an empty tomb, a risen Lord, and a reigning King. That’s the story we like to tell best of all!

Ah, yes, we do love to tell the story. And for now – during these amazing sounds, lights, and wonders in the frigid December air – we are glad we can all gather together, put a hold on the world's hustling and bustling about, and share the story of a babe wrapped both in swaddling clothes and eternal Divinity. The world has never seen such a combination before, nor ever will again. So, you know we'll tell that same blessed story next year, and the next, and every year for as long as our storytelling years shall last.

Coach Steven Bowen, a long-time Red Oak teacher and coach, now enjoys his time as a full-time writer and preacher of the gospel. In addition to his evangelistic travels, he works and writes for the Church of Christ of Red Oak at Uhl Road and Ovilla. Their worship times are 10 a.m. Sundays and 7:30 pm. Wednesdays. Email or call or text 972-824-5197.

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