The wind blows cold off Lake Michigan in December, and I was glad to be out of the
wind as I walked down the steps to Lower Wacker Drive and the Billy Goat Tavern. The
string of lights and yellowed tinsel hung in the window like they have for the last, who
knows how many years.
As I walked in, I heard the sounds of Slim Whitman yodeling “O Tannenbaum” on the
juke box. I held up three fingers as I walked passed the bartender to the back booth
where Philip Melancthon and Martin Luther sat.
Melancthon was reading the “Trib” while Luther penned notes on a yellow legal pad.
Melancthon lowered the paper and said, “Hey Joe, maybe 2020 will be the Cubs’ year.”
Luther patted the seat next to him and as I sat, the bartender brought over three cold
mugs of beer. We drank “To next year!” We clinked our mugs and then took a long
“Working on your Christmas sermon? That would make 502 Christmas sermons.
Don’t you ever run out of things to say?” I asked.
Luther looked up at me, took another drink and said, “Never. Each time is like the
first time. The greatest news the world has ever beheld. God coming to earth.” He
“You ever thought about those words, ‘And Mary kept all these things pondering
them in her heart’? It means, she knew.”
“She was the daughter of a priest. She knew the Word, the prophecies, what was to
happen to Immanuel. He was to die. At the moment of His birth, she knew she would
outlive him. Knew that he would die to save a sinful and dying world. Most of us would
have taken our child and run away. But not her; not Mary. She knew that to save a
world she’d have to sacrifice. She knew the Holy Father was going to make a sacrifice,
so she knew that she could do it, too. They call it the season of giving, not because of a
tie, a sweater, or an iPad, but it is the season of giving because on that night, the Holy
Father and a young woman gave the world the gifts of forgiveness, salvation, and
“Joe, it’s new and it’s breathtaking. That’s why after 502 years there is still something
new to say. It’s not only what the lines say, but what is written between the lines.”
We finished our drinks, I walked out, and the “stars were brightly shining.”
May you have a blessed Christmas,