Saturday, December 25, 2010

God Can Touch and Change A Child.

This week I have been remembering back to the first Christmas sermon I can remember. I was about five years old. I was so excited because the paper mural, which was huge, had been put on the wall behind the pulpit. There were life size shepherds, angels and wisemen along with Mary, Joseph and the precious baby Jesus. The guiding star was bright in the night light showing everyone the way to the manger. I thought it was a beautiful picture and it signaled the change of focus in the church. The wire had been strung across the front of the raised platform and dark burgundy curtains had been hung so that a three act Christmas play could later be performed by the teenagers. All of us little ones simply memorized short verses to recite. The big gas stove had been lit to keep the church warm and I enjoyed seeing the flames and feeling the heat.

I loved our minister. We called him "Preacher John" and I can remember him always opening his arms to me and lifting me high into the air. He called me, "Sambo". He was in his late twenties and was still attending seminary. He and his wife had three young sons. Often they would come to our home after church to eat lunch and visit until it was time to return for evening service. Sundays seem to last at least twice as long as they do today. No one was ever in a hurry to go home.

But I must tell you about the sermon, the one that has been etched in my heart for over fifty-five years. Before Preacher John began to speak my oldest sister (by sixteen years) who was home from college for the holidays, came up front and completely from memory told the story of "The Littlest Angel". I was enthralled, I was amazed, I was proud. My big sister could tell a story with no book to read from and the congregation could hear her. I could hear her with my ears and with my heart. It is a beautiful story.

Then Preacher John read the Christmas story from Luke and his sermon began. He intertwined there being no room at the Inn for Jesus with the story of the "Little Match Girl". I heard him, I felt Mary and Joseph's pain that there was no where to have their baby, I felt the little Match Girl's hunger and freezing hands. For a moment I felt what it was like to not have a mother or father to take care of me. God used this sermon to touch my heart and changed it forever. This message prepared me to open my heart, my life and my home to adopt a baby girl whose birth mother had no home or time to give her when I was twenty-five years older. I actually thought back to that Chistmas message when our Kati was coming to us.

Can you imagine that a sermon from the heart of one person can make an imprint so large on a young child's heart? It did. When my father died thirty years later and Preacher John was asked to return to officiate the funeral, I had the chance to tell him what a difference he had made in my life. I am grateful for that opportunity. So often time passes and the chance to let another person know they touched us slips by.

Mother use to tell me, "Some of us will plant the seed, others will come along and water it, and yet others will see the harvest. None of these works are more important than the other. If you feel God nudging you to do your part for another person by word or deed, don't question which role you play. Do what God asks of you and know that you are part of His plan".

Thank you for letting me share my stories with you from time to time. As I do I get to experience the joys and the memories one more time. Merry Christmas to each of you and may all of our lives and hearts continue to be touched in this special and holy season.

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