“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” (Luke 2:10)
If you are traveling by airplane for the holidays, this story might have more significance than others.
Man had been fascinated with flight since the beginning of time. As far back as the ancient Chinese in the 4th century B.C. humans have tried to harness the wind and fly above the ground like birds. A kite was his first attempt at flight, though somewhat unsatisfying because he could only observe from the ground.
Leonardo Di Vinci in the mid-15th century A.D. drew over 100 designs for a flying machine, but Di Vinci was often ahead of his time in so many ways.
Then in the late 19th century the manned glider was invented, but man’s flight was controlled by the wind itself. Many glider flights ended in tragedy because the pilot had little or no control of his direction.
It was not until just before Christmas, December 17, 1903 that Wilbur and Orville Wright of Dayton, Ohio perfected the design for a true flying machine.
By trade the brothers were bicycle and printing press builders. Both of these were not only noble professions but lucrative as well. They could have been very satisfied with their careers. But they dreamed bigger. Using the research of many others before them, the sons of Milton and Susan Wright, camped out on the eastern seaboard at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina for three summers. There they worked on a “fixed-wing” flight design.
After two summers, however, the brothers had become discouraged. They were sure that man would some day fly, but that he would never fly during their lifetime. Fortunately, the men did not give up. In the summer of 1903 after building a gasoline-powered engine that turned propellers, Orville and Wilbur decided to stay past their usual season as the fall temperatures started to plummet. They decided to keep trying despite the weather and the coming holidays. On that December morning, Orville piloted the lightweight spruce-constructed muslin-surfaced Wright Flyer I off the ground for 59 seconds with Wilbur running along beside. The flying machine’s altitude reached 10 feet.
After Wilbur and Orville made their momentous flight, they naturally wanted to share the news with their family back home in Dayton, Ohio. They sent a telegram to their sister, Katherine, telling her of the flight and that they would be home to celebrate Christmas. When Katherine excitedly ran to the newspaper office with the news, she was surprised when the editor looked at the message and exclaimed, “Oh great, the boys will be home for Christmas.” In the next morning’s paper ,the headline read “Popular Local Bicycle Merchants Home for the Holidays.”
The point of this story is that the editor supposedly missed the impact of the message. Excited that his friends would be home for the holidays, he ignored the biggest news of the century. Man had flown!
In the excitement and preparations for Christmas, it’s easy to miss the point of the season. God had come to earth. No matter what else you might hold dear at Christmas, don’t miss the reason why Jesus came: to give us eternal access to our Heavenly Father.