She Kept Walking Up and Down the Bleacher Stairs

She Kept Walking Up and Down the Bleacher Stairs

She kept walking up and down the bleacher stairs.

I was at the St. Olaf Christmas Festival, this amazing event where over 500 musicians sing and play extraordinary sacred music to an appreciative audience of about 3,000 people. As an alum of St. Olaf College, I look forward each year to the Christmas Festival with keen anticipation. It is a chance to rekindle wonderful memories, to connect with old friends, and above all to worship the Lord from the deep places of my being.

But there was this woman who arrived late, after the music had begun, making the long walk up the noisy bleacher stairs. She reached the top, then immediately came down again, exiting Skoglund gymnasium where the event is held. Moments later she was back, climbing the creaking bleacher stairs again, now holding a concert program. About twenty minutes later she left again, returning after a brief absence, once again on those bleacher stairs, this time taking a new seat directly across the aisle from me.

Did she not know, as the English would say, this is “not the done thing?” Did she not know how disruptive she was to both musicians and audience, all hoping to enjoy to the full this nationally renowned event?

As my family and I drove home that night, we talked about this woman. Never before had we seen such a thing at a Christmas Festival, and between us we have participated in or attended dozens of them. We weren’t angry, just perplexed (and probably a little annoyed – at least I was).

It was my daughter-in-law Emma who said, “I just wanted to know her story. I imagined that she was sick, or troubled in some way…”

Immediately I grasped what a spiritually generous attitude this was. To enter into the story of another person. To be concerned for their shalom, their well-being.

This is the beauty and true meaning of Christmas, the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14). Jesus, though in the form of God, emptied himself (Philippians 2:5-11), entering into our story, concerned for our shalom, our well-being. What a spiritually generous thing to do! For it is in Jesus that the bleacher-walking woman and we find our shalom, our well-being, our salvation, our life’s purpose, and our eternal destiny.

You are surrounded by people. Some you enjoy, some perplex you, some annoy you. How will you enter into their story? This is the beauty and true meaning of Christmas.

David Lenz, Lead Pastor