When Arabella Hankey, a Londoner, fell chronically ill in her early thirties, she wrote a poem that was turned into lyrics for two great hymns, Tell Me the Old, Old Story and I Love to Tell the Story. In the despair of her chronic pain, she understood her need to renew her mind with the promises of God’s love. In the first hymn we find a fitting refrain for the holidays: “Tell me the old, old story … of Jesus and His love.” In fact, the first stanza also offers us an idea for creating traditions that last well beyond the Christmas season: “Tell me the story simply, as to a little child,/For I am weak and weary, and helpless and defiled.” As the hymn suggests, we should be telling children-and anyone who will listen-about God’s story of salvation, about His love.
From the time the nation Israel assembled in the desert to hear the Ten Commandments to the time Jesus gathered His disciples before His ascension, God has admonished and commissioned His people to stay faithful to Him-and to reproduce a new generation of disciples who faithfully follow Jesus Christ. From the foot of Mount Sinai to the foot of the Cross, people have gathered to remember God’s covenant-keeping love.
The story’s pivot point is our Savior. The second person of the Godhead took on human flesh. Because of what He did in dying for our sins we have hope and a reason to respond with the psalmist, “Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come” (Ps. 71:18).
In this issue of Kindred Spirit we welcome you to read again the story of salvation. Learn from Martin Luther about our Savior’s incarnation; hear redemptive history from how the archangel Gabriel might have perceived it; and tour the towns in the story’s setting-Bethlehem, Ramah, and Nazareth. Finally you’ll find ways to share your faith with others who have yet to hear the old, old story. Hear for yourself once again. And then tell everyone who will listen of Jesus and His love.