The wind blows sharp and cold off the “Lake” as you walk along Michigan Avenue in Chicago, in December. But thankfully, as you walk down the stairs to Lower Wacker Drive, the wind is no longer a factor.
I noticed the flickering Christmas lights and the yellowing tinsel that hung, as a celebration of the season, in the window of the Billy Goat Tavern. As I entered I looked around and saw the usual crowd. The Luciano brothers who ran a midnight auto supply out of their garage, Aldreman Jack Hayes, who never met a bribe he didn’t take, and Mary Jane Schmidt, who never met a man she didn’t like.
Back in a corner booth were my two good friends, Martin Luther, the reformer, and Philip Melancthon, writer of the Augsburg Confession. As I walked to the back booth I held up three fingers and Jack, the bartender, nodded.
I stood at the booth watching Melancthon reading the “Trib,” and Luther working on his Christmas Eve sermon. Melancthon peered over the “Trib” and said, “What happened to our Cubs? Where was Bryant’s head and what was up with Baez and the big ‘hug”?
Luther didn’t look up from his notes and said, “Sit down, Joe. Good to see you.” Jack brought us our three beers and we toasted. “To 2019 and may the Christ return!”
“Got your Christmas sermon done, Joe?” asked Luther. “I’m struggling,” I replied. “How do you take the same old thing and make it relevant?”
Luther gave me a sideways look and said, “What is wrong with you? Think of the angel’s message, Joe. ‘Today a savior has been born to you.’ It is new, it is refreshing, it is a hope; a sure and certain hope that God has, is, and will act again. The world is dying. People are looking for hope in all the wrong places. It is up to us, the faithful, to declare that the coming of Christ in Bethlehem was not a one time event, but a foretelling, a promise of God’s Kingdom coming in its completeness. The message is that Christ came to fulfill all your hopes, and He is coming again to make all things right and new. That’s the message of Christmas.”
I looked up, and for the first time I saw hope in the eyes of all that were in the tavern.
I left the Billy Goat realizing that Christmas was not a one time event, but a promise of what is to come.
A blessed Christmas to all!