On lower Wacker Drive you don’t feel the wind off Lake Michigan but the cold still chills you to the bone. Maybe it is my age, after all this would be the 46th time that Philip, Martin, and I have met at the Billy Goat Tavern. I don’t remember whose idea it was to meet here for the first time but even though there are much fancier “saloons” to meet in, the Billy Goat is like coming home.

I opened the door and looked around. It was the same group of people who had been there for the past 46 years. The only difference was grey hair and wrinkles. Jack, the bartender, nodded to me as I held up three fingers on my way to the back booth. There they were, Philip Melancthon, author of the Augsburg Confession, reading the “Trib” and Martin Luther, the man who started it all, scratching out his 515th Christmas sermon.

“Sit down Joe,” Luther said as he pushed aside his pen and yellow legal pad. As I slid in Phil said, “Another rebuilding year for the Cubs I see. And how about those Bears. I think they need GPS so they can find their way to the end zone.” Jack set the three mugs of beer on the table. As we picked up our mugs I asked, “What shall we drink to?” “To peace on earth, good will to people everywhere,” said Phil. The cool ale felt good on my parched throat. “We sure need peace and good will,” I said.

“It’s right here for the taking,” said Luther. “The babe in the manger offers us everything we need. Problem is very few accept the gift. We are too busy looking for happiness, pleasure, fame and wealth and once we get those things we still want more. We are like glasses with holes in the bottom. We can keep pouring but we can never be filled. It is only the babe in the manger who can fill us. Fill us with what we really need; ‘love, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.’ The things we think we need are here today and gone tomorrow. The things we really need are ours for all eternity. We’re just too ‘me’ centered. We need to be Christ centered. It’s not things that will fulfill us. Tell me Joe, have you ever seen a U-haul following a hearse? Of course not because you can’t take those ‘me’ things with you. But what  Christ offers are yours for all eternity. You want the gift that keeps on giving. That gift is the son of God. He keeps giving us forgiveness, salvation and eternal life. He gives us things that will never wear out, never need batteries, never grow old. He gives us life. Abundant life!”

We finished our beers and said our good byes. As I walked out someone started singing, “God rest ye merry gentlemen, let nothing you dismay. For Jesus Christ our Savior was born on Christmas day. To save us all from Satan’s power, when we were gone astray. O tidings of comfort and joy…

Have a blessed Christmas!

Peace - Curt