A Holiday Greeting from The Wizard of Ads
It’s Christmas Eve and Martin is broke. He hasn’t a cent to buy gifts for his six adorable children. The kids all know it, too.
As the children snuggle together in bed, candlelight plays on the branches of the fragrant fir tree the boys have brought in from the woods. Martin sits in the shadows, staring at his desktop. For a man without gifts for his children, Christmas Eve is one long, dark night of the soul.
The house is cold when the children awaken to find their father, face down on his desk; his arms hanging lifelessly at his sides. The kids aren’t sure what to do.
It is Paul who breaks the silence with a shout, “What is this?” When Martin doesn’t stir, Paul vigorously shakes his father’s shoulders and shouts again, “What is this?” Opening his bleary eyes, Martin sees that Paul is pointing to a paper tucked high into the branches of the fir. “Open it and see,” he tells his son.
“It’s a song!” cries Paul, unrolling the scroll, “Father has written us a song!” Clammering now with a single voice, the children jump up and down as they cry, “Sing it for us, Daddy, sing it for us!”
Unrolling the paper which he had tucked among the branches, Martin gathers his voice and begins to croon the song he had composed during the night. “Away in a manger, no crib for his bed, the little Lord Jesus lay down his sweet head; The stars in the bright sky looked down where he lay…. the little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.”
The year is 1530 and Martin’s family name is Luther. It has been thirteen years and fifty-four days since Martin sent shock waves across Europe by nailing his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Castle Church. Looking now into the joyous faces of his children as they watch him sing, Martin decides that his Wittenberg letter of complaint is no longer the most important thing he has ever written.*
And that was Christmas, 468 years ago.
Roy and Pennie Williams
* It seems that Martin was right. While few can recite The 95 Theses which launched the Protestant reformation, we all know the words to his song.