In his painting “An Allegory of Prudence,” the 16th-century Venetian artist Titian portrayed Prudence as a man with three heads. One head was of a youth facing the future, another of a mature man eyeing the present, and the third, a wise old man gazing at the past. Over their heads Titian wrote a Latin phrase that means, “From the example of the past, the man of the present acts prudently so as not to imperil the future.”
An art enthusiast displayed on the walls of his office a collection of etchings, including one of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Every morning he noticed it was crooked, so he straightened it. Finally one evening he asked the cleaning woman if she was responsible for moving the picture each night. “Why, yes,” she said, “I have to hang it crooked to make the tower straight!”
Hikers in California’s Sierra Mountains are surprised to encounter 10-foot-high fences with barbed wire stretched around the top. What do they see inside the fence-surrounded enclosures? Some vital communication equipment like a radio tower? No, they see only a few gnarled trees, maybe just a twisted stump with a few needles.
The night of Jesus’ birth was exciting for Mary and Joseph. There before their eyes was the miracle baby whose coming into the world had been announced by an angel. The shepherds too saw and heard a “multitude of the heavenly host” praising God and heralding His birth (Lk. 2:13). How thrilling!
It was the night before Christmas in 1870. French and German armies faced each other on the field of battle in the Franco-Prussian War. A French soldier started walking toward the German lines. His comrades watched breathlessly, expecting to hear at any instant the crack of a rifle that would end his life. As he neared the enemy lines, he stopped and began singing, “Noel, noel! Noel, noel! Born is the King of Israel!” No shot rang out.
Mr. Brown was driving his car in an unfamiliar city and was having trouble finding a certain address. So he stopped and asked a pedestrian how to get to his desired destination. The man replied, “Well, let’s see. Go two blocks north, turn right, proceed six blocks, and—wait, no—go four blocks south to the first light. Turn right and stay on—no, that won’t work either. Just turn at the corner and go west—no, that won’t do. The new interstate is going through there.” The man finally blurted out, “I’m sorry, Mister. I guess you just can’t get there from here!”
Many Christians do a lot of complaining about Christmas. “Too commercial,” they say. “It has pagan origins. We’ve got to put Christ back into Christmas.” The only thing they haven’t said is, “Bah! Humbug!”