by J. Gerald Harris

Balaam's View Of Bethlehem
Gerald Harris
Numbers 24:15-19

This is my ninth Christmas as the pastor of Eastside Baptist Church. Now, that's not an extremely long pastorate when you consider the fact that Dr. W. A. Criswell was pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas, for 50 years.

And, of course, here in our own community Dr. Nelson Price was pastor of Roswell Street Baptist Church for 35 years.

But nine years is a long time when you consider the fact that the average pastorate in a Southern Baptist church is about two years.

One of the challenges of a longer pastorate is to find something to preach that is creative and fresh - not some warmed over homily, but something that will illuminate the mind and quicken the spirit and warm the heart.

I find it particularly difficult to do that at the Christmas season. I mean, after all, how many different ways can you tell the story of the birth of Christ?

We've all heard about the announcement of the angels. We've heard about the shepherds watching over their flocks by night. We've heard of the gifts of the wise men. We've heard it all so many times. Sometimes I wonder, ''Does the Christmas message suffer from overexposure?''

And then I think of the words of Catherine Hankey:
Tell me the old, old story,
Of unseen things above,
Of Jesus and His glory,
Of Jesus and His love;
Tell me the story simply,
As to a little child,
For I am weak and weary,
And helpless and defiled.

Tell me the story slowly,
That I may take it in
That wonderful redemption,
God's remedy for sin;
Tell me the story often,
For I forget so soon,
The early dew of morning
Has passed away at noon.

Tell me the same old story,
When you have cause to fear
That this world's empty glory
Is costing me too dear;
Yes, and when that world's glory
Is dawning on my soul,
Tell me the old, old story:
''Christ Jesus makes thee whole.''

Tell me the old, old story,
Tell me the old, old story,
Tell me the old ...

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