Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Christmas Story

Mark 1.1-3
Christmas was approaching and the whole family was looking forward to the holiday - the food, the presents, the decorations, playing games round a blazing log fire. But everyone agreed that Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas if they couldn’t attend the Christmas Eve service in the little church down in the valley.

‘I hope it doesn’t snow,’ said Mum. ‘If it snows we won’t be able to go.’

‘Oh, why not?’ asked the Twins. ‘Couldn’t we ski?’ asked Johnny. ‘Couldn’t we go by sledge?’ asked Jenny.

‘Well,’ said Dad, ‘We could only ski if we had any skis. And we could go by sledge down the hill, but then we would have to pull it back up the hill through the snow at one o’clock in the morning.’

So everyone agreed that if it snowed heavily they would have to stay at home, even on Christmas Eve, in their farmhouse high on the hillside.

‘That means we would miss the service where we celebrate the coming of Jesus,’ said Mum. ‘Somehow it won’t feel like Christmas if we can’t be there.’

The weather stayed warm and mild for December right up until the night of Christmas Eve. That evening, as the sun set, dark clouds full of snow blanketed the sky. Soon a few flurries of snow began to fall and - by mid-evening - the snow was coming down so thick that it was impossible to see across the farmyard.

Dad came in from checking the animals. ‘We won’t be going to the service,’ he said. ‘The snow is already half a metre deep on the road. Even with snow chains it will soon be impassable.’

The Twins watched the snow falling through the window and wished they could be outside playing in it. ‘Tomorrow, after we’ve opened our presents, we can throw snow balls and ride on our sledges,’ they said to one another.

Then, just as they were going to bed, there was an urgent kock at the back door. The Twins crept to the top of the stairs and looked through the bannisters, curious to see who was visiting them so late.

It was a young man, his coat and head covered in snow. ‘I’m sorry to bother you,’ he said to Dad, ‘But we were trying to get home for Christmas to see our family and our car is stuck in the snow. My wife and baby are still in the car, but they can’t spend the night there. is there any chance we could stay here?’

Well, of course, Mum and Dad said it would be no trouble at all. The young man fetched his wife and baby and Mum brought some blankets for them and made up the settees so that they could sleep on them, by the fire. The twins came downstairs and shyly watched the baby feeding while Mum prepared some supper for the visitors. It was all very exciting, much more fun than going to church - even in the middle of the night.

In the morning, after a lovely breakfast of soup and toast and hot boiled eggs, Dad got out the tractor and towed the stranded car - with the young couple and their baby safe inside - down to the village where the road was still open.

I’m sorry you missed your service,’ Dad said to Mum as the family ate their Christmas dinner together. ‘I know you feel Christmas isn’t quite Chritsmas without it.’

‘Oh, I don’t know,’ said Mum. ‘The service reminds us how Jesus came as a baby to live with us in the middle of the night, while his family were far from home. But I think we were reminded of that anyway by our surprise visitors. I think it’s been a lovely Christmas.’

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