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Christmas Countdown #9: Burger King, Baskin-Robbins and Simeon

December 19, 2014

I guess every one of us is odd in some way, aren’t we? 

Sure we are.  Each man, woman and child on this planet has something out of the ordinary that gives people pause when they notice it.

1fKeeping Tippy your favorite stuffed bear with you, even into college years.

Putting ketchup on your eggs.

Wearing a favorite shirt until it falls into rags.

Talking to your car while you drive.

As a child, mine was that I loved french fries.  I adored them.  My brain would shut off all other systems at the sight of a plate of salty fries with a side of ketchup.  The sole interest of my elementary school years at any McDonalds or Burger King was not the hamburger; that was merely the filler.  The joy of my life was found in the little semi-greasy bag of fries that nestled safe and secure in the bottom of the bag.  I was hopeless, and I loved it.

Up through middle school I kept this fascination.  Even though I was only ten years old at the time, I was part of our little youth group that would travel in a rickety school bus from Hershey, Pennsylvania to Harrisburg for monthly Youth for Christ multi-church meetings.

And I’m going to confess my heathen mindset, and here it is:  I didn’t enjoy the YFC meetings half as much as I looked forward to the ride home – and the routine stop at a fast-food chain.

I would climb aboard our school bus and press my face to the glass.  While the teens chattered away happily, I would clutch my dollar bill and silently look for that Burger King sign.

When we arrived and piled into the Burger King lobby, I would always double-check the menu board.  Sure enough, the price was still the same:  French Fries, 20 cents.  The bags of 1960s fries were nothing to yawn about either, brother.  You got a seriously generous helping of fries into those little packets, with some even spilling over into the larger bag, for goodness’ sake.

Even though I was a fairly shy kid, I would make my way up to the cashier and boldly order five bags of fries (I believe I had some extra change for the tax).  I didn’t even care when the teens snickered at me.  I was only thinking of the nice long ride home.

Five bags of fries.

And me.

Alone on my own seat on the bus.


Once in a while the bus driver would announce that next week we would stop at Baskin-Robbins on the way home.  I would hold my money in my fist and look longingly for that pink-and-brown logo shining in the dark, knowing that I would soon be ordering – I kid you not – a triple scoop of Dutch chocolate on a sugar cone.

Even after all these years this recollection is still very sharp to me.  I would gaze out the window, searching, searching for that sign, the sign that would direct me to my destination.

Believe it or not, “sign” is used in the Nativity story.  The very word that means a directional communication that rises above the horizon and makes people look up and see the right direction.

The word ‘sign” was used of Jesus, and it was used while he was still an infant.  In the second chapter of Luke, Simeon – the one who was told directly by God the Father that he would not die until he’d seen the Messiah – is nudged by the Holy Spirit and directed to the child nestled in Mary’s arms.  Simeon takes the child and gives a magnificent proclamation about the Christ child.

“…my eyes have seen your salvation…”

“…a light for revelation to the Gentiles…”

“…the glory of your people Israel…”

But then Simeon turns to Mary and makes an awfully brutal statement: “This child is destined to … be a sign that will be spoken against…”

He has announced the child will be a direction that people will need to take in order to find salvation, but he adds that this sign will also be the target of abuse.

Go to the back roads of any region and you’ll find a stop sign or highway marker that was the recipient of abuse; peppered with bullet holes or paint-ball splatters, the sign was a clear and easy target, especially under the cover of darkness.

How accurately Simeon portrays Jesus!

Christ will rise above the horizon of meaningless religious liturgy and repetition.  He’ll point people in the direction away from hopelessness and toward the path of salvation.   He’ll be obvious.  He won’t be ignored.  He’ll reflect the Truth towards those holding their pilgrimage lanterns in search of Heaven.

But that darkness will invite those who want to destroy that Sign.  Emboldened by the cover of dusk, they will target Jesus.

He knew this.  He wanted it.  He was ready.  He was able.

Thank God for the Sign.   I took a clear look at the Sign and saw the direction it showed.  At the age of seventeen I followed the direction of the Sign.  The path is one I’ll never leave.


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