I learned in a college journalism course that  many people only read articles in the newspaper with attention-grabbing head-lines.   For example, “Aliens Land in New York City and Live among the People for 20 Years – Nobody Notices” would immediately get my attention.   Rudolph never got to play in any reindeer games. Which begs the question - what  games do reindeer play? Hooves and Ladders? Balderdasher? I don't like to think about the idea of reindeer cheating but it is something to consider.

One of the more infamous headlines appeared in the Chicago Daily Tribune in November 1948.   It read, “Dewey Defeats Truman!”   (For those of you who are presidentially- impaired, Truman actually defeated Dewey and did not have to attend electoral college.) The very next day Truman went deer hunting and spoke those forever immortal and misquoted words, “The buck dropped here!”   If you remember your history you will recall that on one of his campaign trips he got so mad during a speech aimed at the Russians  he said he would call down a storm from the clouds.   In a spontaneous moment of patriotic excitement one of his aides yelled, “Give ‘em hail, Harry!”

Without a doubt, though, the greatest place in the world for catching interesting headlines is the checkout line at the supermarket.   Once I have finished counting the items in people’s baskets who are in the “Ten Items or Less”  line, I like to look at the tabloids.  They read something like this: “Farmer In Idaho Grows Potato That Looks Like Richard Nixon”  (I thought all potatoes looked like Richard Nixon.)    Others could be: “Elvis Seen Ballooning In New Mexico -- Mistaken For Goodyear Blimp,”  “Woman Claims To Be In Her Third Reincarnated Life -- Marries A Moose,”  “Trucker In Alabama Truck Stop Sees The Face Of Moses In His Mashed Potatoes” (How would he know what Moses looked like?), and “Man Lands On Mars -- Luggage Goes To Cleveland.” 

Man has always been fascinated by bizarre stories.   They sell papers.   Two thousand years ago an event happened, so spectacular that it would have appeared like this in the Bethlehem tabloid: “Virgin Gives Birth To Savior Of The World In A Stable.”  Another one: “Angels Appear out of Nowhere, Talk to Shepherds on a Hillside.” What kinds of looks would those headlines get you? I can hear the laughter now . . . except this time, the headlines would have been true.  The way of the manger is spectacular and yet simple at the same time.   It is spectacular because of the circumstances, simple because of the surroundings. 

The problem with too many people at Christmas is that they tend to leave Jesus in the manger and never let Him out. That is a great misunderstanding of the depth of the meaning of the birth of Christ, because the whole  manger scenario always has been, and always will be,  eternally connected to the Cross event -- the opening act of a world-changing play.   The simple story surrounding the  manger, when understood at its deepest level, is the essence of Christmas.  Jesus could not stay in the inn . . . and ultimately, neither could He stay in the tomb.   Merry Christmas.   

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