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07 December 2010

Christmas Week #1--Excerpts

This week's host: Amanda Flower
Excerpt A

Why did Angie dress the boys up for Christmas Eve service? They looked cute in green pants and vests, but at supper, Daniel and Elijah dipped their Christmas ties in ketchup. Now, before worship, P.J. tossed his into the restroom wastebasket. Paul held a similar opinion of ties. But he knew better than to cultivate it in his grandson.
Paul and P.J. rejoined Angie and the older boys in the foyer, only a few minutes late for service. He was glad to help his daughter, as Doug was clearing roads tonight. Angie was talking to an elderly new usher who led their family parade into the candlelit, almost-full sanctuary. Paul provided rear guard.
A child's wonder stirred him. Thank you, Jesus, for coming to this earth. Happy birthday.
Angie, halfway down the center aisle, turned with a deer-in-the-headlights look. Why hadn't she told the guy they wanted to sit in the back? A realization his Paul between the eyes. She didn't know the usher was hard of hearing.
Soon, he saw the other reason for Angie's nervousness. The usher was seating them directly beside Joanna and her family.
Pastor Morgan rose to read the Christmas story. The organ music faded. Angie slipped into the pew beside Joanna. Paul, not daring to look at the women or Andrew, held P.J. on his lap.
Pastor Morton read the ancient words in a reverent tone. "In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world..."
Lord, You came to a difficult world. Things haven't changed. How many people in these pews were trying to cope with life's pressure and their own weaknesses?
But nothing is impossible with God. The words rang so clear, he thought Pastor Morton had read them. Assurance blanketed him like a forest snowfall.
He sang with his family, with the woman he loved, and with Christian friends he cherished. "Glo-o-o-o-o-o-o-ria in excelsis Deo..."
The boys loved singing the o's in "Angels We Have Heard on High." He had to stop Elijah from singing them in every carol. Still, Paul's serenity seemed to flow into the children, as if they were connected by pipes. Few fidgets and no fussing. He prayed the Holy Spirit would help the grown-ups in the pew as well.
More blessed scripture that fed him like a Christmas feast. A quavery but lovely rendition of "O Holy Night" by a teenager.
"Let's sing 'Joy to the World' as pew welcome Christ into our lives."  Pastor Morton lit the last candle in the Advent rings, then those of people along the aisles.
Paul watched the tiny flames spread from person to person. Surely Christ's love could do that, too.

Excerpt B
David crawled over to the box and lay on his stomach. "And not just any train. This one has miles of track."
"Well, perhaps not, but it seems like it. And look here," David turned the box over, "the light on the front of the train comes on."
"Let me see." Sadie peered over David's shoulder. "That's quite amazing."
"You want to put it together?" he asked Caleb.
"I sure do!"
David chuckled as he opened the box and began pulling out the sections of track. "I wanted one of these when I was your age."
"You did?"
"Did you ever get one?"
"How come?"
Because I grew up in an orphanage. David glanced at Caleb and smiled. "I just didn't."
At least that wouldn't be Caleb's fate. Caleb's home was here -- until an adoptive family could be found.
David looked around the brightly festive room with a renewed sense of wonder over Sadie's efforts. The tree was enormous. How on earth had she gotten it inside? The image of her slim form fighting with the monstrous tree brought a smile to his lips. She and Caleb must have had a wonderful time decorating it. Perhaps next Christmas he could help. He closed his eyes and inhaled the delicious aromas wafting through the house. Hopefully an adoptive family would never be found, and his home would always be here with Sadie.
Sadie joined them on the floor and the three put the tracks together in no time. David had started setting up the train when Sadie squealed, "Oh my goodness! I was having so much fun I forgot about the turkey. It's going to be dry as a bone." She rushed from the room, and David went back to setting up the trains.
Caleb tugged at his sleeve. "Look, there's one more." He pointed to a large present, similar in size to the train, but wrapped green and gold. It had been pushed near to the back of the tree and almost all the way underneath, like someone was trying to hide it. Caleb scooted it out with his foot and knelt to read the tag. "It's from Santa, too!"
"But that one's for Brother Langley!" Sadie blurted as she entered the room. Her cheeks flushed red as she looked at David. "Santa brings grownups gifts, too." She took a seat in the wingback chair. "Turkey's fine. Go ahead and open it."
Caleb shuffled the gift toward David. He wished he'd brought more than cookies for Sadie. He hadn't realized she'd gone to this much trouble.
Caleb stood over his shoulder, staring, as David untied the string that held the wrapping closed. "You got one, too! Look, Mommy, Santa brought Brother Langley a Lionel Train, too!"
Sadie laughed. "Well, he did say he wanted one. I guess it just took Santa a while to find him."

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Item Reviewed: Christmas Week #1--Excerpts Rating: 5 Reviewed By: April Gardner