How eagerly we looked forward to the Big Night. A Broadway production would not have generated more excitement. We usually walked to the church, as we lived close, and it left more parking spaces for other people. I remember one December night in particular, when the ground was snow-covered and we stepped out in a white world. It was so cold that the snow crunched underfoot, and the sky was studded with a million stars.
Daddy carried baby Susie, and the rest of us trudged along. We were filled with excitement, along with some trepidation lest we forget our lines. When we reached the church, it was already full of expectant parents and neighbors. Mr. Hinkle was running about attending to last minute chores, and keeping the children in order.
The curtains were drawn, while we scurried about backstage. My baby brother Ronnie was just a little tot, and Avis Hanshaw lifted him up above the curtain to view the crowd. He got scared, and grabbed the wire holding the curtains and down it went. Red-faced, Mr. Hinkle said in exasperation, "I knew that doggone nail wouldn't hold!" I don't think anyone ever told him it was Ronnie's doings.
With all the mishaps and snags, we put on a good program. When we sang, "Silent Night, Holy Night" a hush came over the audience. It was as if the peace of God settled down upon us, and we realized all the trappings of Christmas centered upon the tiny Babe born in a manger. And that is still true today -- the Child that was born became the Son who has risen and is now the hope for all humankind. We must never let the festivities and celebrations of the season obscure the fact Christ came "to seek and save that which was lost." He came that we may have life, and have it more abundantly.
In this pre-Christmas season, it is a good time to let God search our hearts and reveal to just exactly where we stand with Him. He is coming again, and it won't be in the form of a little baby. The world is waxing worse and worse, and it makes a person wonder how much longer it can stand. People scoffed at Noah when he was building the ark, until the flood came and devoured them all. Many scoff now at the prophesy that Jesus is coming again, but if you read the third chapter of Second Peter, it can open your eyes.
My prayer is that each of you will discover why baby Jesus really came. It is a beautiful and moving story of the birth of Christ, and we need to rejoice -- but it goes deeper than just a Babe born in a manger. When you experience the real reason, then you can truly rejoice because Jesus was sent into the world. It is our hope!
I am now mailing out books for Christmas giving. I have "This Holler is My Home," "Homesick for the Hills," and "Laughter from the Hills." They are priced at $15.33 each, which includes tax and shipping costs, or all three for $40. I can autograph them as you wish. Mailing address is Alyce Faye Bragg, 2556 Ovapa Road, Ovapa, WV 25164. My e-mail address is alycef...@citlink.net