Just some early morning thoughts from me to you…

“O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant,

O come ye, O come ye, to Bethlehem.

Come and behold Him, born the King of angels;

O come, let us adore Him, O come let us adore Him,

O come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.”

The show on television a couple of nights ago was “Monk,” now in syndication around the networks. I had just showered, dressed to turn in for the evening, and lay down on the bed in our room to watch. And then our younger granddaughter, Ellie Kate, burst into the bedroom with her Mimi, saw that “Monk” was on the TV, and jumped onto the bed to watch with me.

Our elder granddaughter Hannah was in the other room also getting ready for bedtime. She and Ellie Kate would share the fold-out couch in the living room of our hotel suite in Tampa. We had just returned from dinner, after attending the annual Christmas performance at Exciting Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz, Florida.

The tradition of attending the annual Christmas pageant with our two granddaughters, spending the night and then Christmas shopping the next day, began in 2008 with our first attendance at the Christmas performance. That year the presentation was entitled “The Promise of Christmas,” and our younger granddaughter, Ellie Kate, sat on her daddy’s lap throughout the evening, engrossed in finding Jesus on the stage as scene after scene changed before us.

Each year, Idlewild Baptist Church puts together the most incredible performance for Christmas, of a poignant story complete with an enormous choir, beautiful set designs and full orchestra—and with a clear message sharing the reason for the season. It is a remarkable gift to the community.

I don’t know how much longer we will have the privilege to attend with our girls, but, at least for now, this was the sixth year in a row for the four of us.

This year’s program was titled the “Christmas Child,” and Lynda and I, along with our two granddaughters, fourteen-year-old Hannah, and nine-year-old Ellie Kate, again attended as the guests of Idlewild’s Senior Pastor Ken Whitten—Ellie’s proclaimed personal Pastor.

Telling her Dad about the performance on the phone later, Ellie Kate bubbled over with an excitement in her voice describing her experience by telling him that “parts of it made me want to cry, and other parts made me want to shout with joy.”

That’s the way we felt throughout the entire trip this past weekend with our two precious girls.

Even during the time when Ellie Kate fell asleep in my arms watching Monk. Or should I say, especially during that time.

Even the next day when she selected a white polar bear at Build-a-Bear for herself, while Hannah selected a blue one for a new grandbaby of good friends of our family. Or maybe “especially” is the more appropriate sentiment for both of those as well.

Even during the special time I had later during our Christmas shopping time, sharing with Hannah by trying to explain why I tend to say “yes” more often to my granddaughters, when “no” might be at times more appropriate. The best I could explain to her, through tears forming in my eyes, was that it was simply the reality of wondering how many more of these moments we will have together. Especially is the right sentiment, again.

You may not feel called to attend the annual Christmas performance at Idlewild Baptist Church, although I suspect it would be a unique blessing for you and those you love who attend with you.

But we all are called to something else, something special happening again at this time of year. Something eternally significant. Something potentially transformational and life-changing for us all.

It’s Christmas and we are all being called to the manger once again.

The manger where the Christmas Child was born for you and for me over two-thousand years ago. The manger where our two precious Christmas Grandchildren focus their attention during the annual Christmas program and throughout the rest of this season and year. The manger where the Babe of Bethlehem was born—in a stable, behind an inn, in the little town of Bethlehem.

It was a life-changing and world-changing moment way back then, and it can be, and must be, for each of us, again.

It’s Christmas. Are you headed to the manger? What will you do when you get there?

In the tradition of the familiar Christmas carol set out above, what if we simply did what the words of that carol suggested—“O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.”

Yes, especially that.

In His Name—Scott

Copyright 2013. Scott L. Whitaker. All rights reserved.