In recent days I had the great honor and pleasure of delivering the keynote address to my nephew Daniel on the occasion of his attaining the rank of Eagle Scout. Those familiar with the Boy Scouts of America and with Scouting around the world understand that earning the highest rank in that organization is no small accomplishment. In pursuing this goal to the end, Daniel, like his older brother Austin and his father, proved at an early age that he is worthy of honor and of great responsibility. That is a large part of the message I gave to Daniel and to those gathered for the occasion. I publish it here in hope that this message may be an encouragement and exhortation to others.
For Daniel Victor McCarn at His Eagle Court of Honor
February 27, 2015
Daniel, this day of recognition has been long in coming. All of us rejoice with you that it has come at last. We recognize you for your considerable accomplishments in attaining the rank of Eagle. Those accomplishments are worthy of celebration and remembrance, but I will let others speak of them. What I want to address with you is something greater than what you do. I would like to consider who you are.
By way of introducing this subject I invite you to consider three men who have become legendary in the annals of Texas history. Today the names of David Crockett, James Bowie, and William Barrett Travis exist in a space far removed from the reality these men occupied in their lifetimes. We know them as the great heroes of the Alamo, men who stood bravely against overwhelming odds in the noble cause of freedom. It is fitting to remember them at this time, the anniversary of the Siege of the Alamo which began on February 23, 1836, and ended thirteen days later on March 6 in the great battle that claimed the lives of these heroes.
Like barnacles on a ship, legends have encrusted the names of Crockett, Bowie, and Travis. After 179 years it is hard to distinguish myth from truth. Those who remember them at all remember them either as heroes or as villains, depending on the point of view. There is enough of both in each man to justify each perception. But who were they in reality? When we strip away the layers of time and legend, what do we find? We find flawed men like all of us whose ordinary lives played out in the crucible of extraordinary times.
At some point in my youth I grew curious about why we Christians celebrate Christmas in December. When I asked my elders where to find Christmas in the Bible, they pointed me to Luke 2 and Matthew 2. Although those famous passages explained the details of Jesus’ birth, neither they nor anyone I asked could explain how those accounts got translated into the festivities of December 25. The best answer I got was something like this, “We really don’t know when Jesus was born. It probably wasn’t in the winter, but since we don’t really know, December 25 is as good a day as any.”
That answer never satisfied my curiosity as a child, and it should not satisfy any serious believer in Jesus, especially when we consider the high quality of Luke’s gospel. Dr. Luke was a meticulous scholar who recorded great detail both in his gospel and in the book of Acts. His accounts, such as those in the first two chapters of his gospel, included evidence he had acquired from people who witnessed the events. In particular, he must have talked with Mary the mother of Jesus to understand her thoughts and words. How is it possible, that she would forget when her Son was born, or that Luke would not tell us that detail? It truth, it is not possible to overlook such an important detail, and in fact Luke did tell us. All we need to understand the answer is a little Bible knowledge, not only of the scriptures, but of the Hebraic context in which they were written. Most of what we need is in Luke 1, with a little help from I Chronicles 24. We begin with the story of a priest in the Temple at Jerusalem: Please click here to continue reading