Love Shines in the Night (Karen Saboe)

I hold my young daughter’s mittened hand as we walk in the cold night, Christmas caroling with the Children’s Choir and a few adults.  The carolers knock at another door, waiting with anticipation.  The wait seems longer than it really is.  The gentleman that opens the door peers at us, looking over eyeglasses positioned far down on his nose.  We are from his church, just up the road in Minnetonka, the one he used to attend before he couldn’t really get out anymore, and became “shut in.”

Our little group  begins to sing:  “The First Noel,” “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem,” “Away in the Manger,” “Jingle Bells,” and more.  We stand with our candles close to our faces, lighting each child’s wonder and joy in the dark evening.  Then it is time for “Silent Night.”  Soon there are tears, tears that slide down behind the gentleman’s glasses, down onto his cheeks.
The Children’s Choir director asks if he may share with us what brings the tears.  He shares a memory of many years past.  Now retired, but this evening he recalls his favorite Christmas memory as a Pastor in his younger years.  “Living in Appalachia, I trekked through the woods and the deep snow to the small church, warmed by a wood stove, candles in the window for Christmas Eve.  It is time for the reading of the Christmas Story.  I move to the front of the tiny church.  The parishioners also move to the front of the church, holding candles, the only light, near the page, so I can read from Luke 2.  A small gathering of the Appalachian people, all together on this important night.  I am reading a story of hope for the world, for the people of Appalachia, with all of us gathered around the light.  It is the story of salvation.  There won’t be many gifts when all get home, but the memory of coming together to celebrate Christ’s birth on this cold winter night, lit only by candles, warmed only by fire.  These were the most memorable Christmases, being in Appalachia.”

It is time to return to the cold night as there are more houses to visit, more carols to be sung. We turn to leave  after the retired pastor has finished his story.  Our candles are burning brightly.  Love shines in the night.

“For today is born in the City of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”  Luke 2:11
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