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Away in a Manger. Oh Little Town of Bethlehem. Here Comes Santa Claus. Joy to the World. It Came Upon a Midnight Clear. Jingle Bells. Oh Come All Ye Faithful. Silent Night, Holy Night. Hark! the Herald Angels Sing. Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel. God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen. The First Noel. Holly Jolly Christmas. Feliz Navidad. It’s Beginning to Look A lot Like Christmas. Santa Claus is Coming to Town. The Little Drummer Boy. It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. Jingle Bells. So many melodic tunes, accompanied by amazing lyrics, that are part and parcel of this Holiday Season we’ve just entered into. Yes, tis the season!!
As a happy and carefree youngster, I remember hearing all those songs and more, singing some too, as I joined my mother, grandmother, aunts, uncles, cousins and other church members attending services at St. John’s Lutheran in Lancaster. I was baptized, went to and taught Sunday School, was confirmed and made my First Holy Communion at ‘our’ church. Then after college I moved away, and the wonderment I felt as a youth was disappearing. It was being replaced by living on my own, developing my independence, finding my own way in the rat race we call life. I lived out of state for many years, met and married who I thought would be my forever mate, and brought two precious children into the world. My heart swelled with pride and joy at the birth of Jennifer and Kyle, yet I longed for the safe haven that St. John's always was for me. I knew the only way to quell that longing would be to return to the Lancaster-Depew area, and my beloved St. John's. Years passed, and life brought many challenges and changes. My mom passed, and then dad took ill. He needed help, and I needed to help him, so I returned … the prodigal child to his master. I arrived mid-week and attended service that Sunday, feeling blessed at the warm welcome I received. I’m thankful to be here as a member of St. John's, to sing in Choir, to assist with Altar Guild, to usher and of course, to be on Council. It’s an honor, and a responsibility that I want to fulfill to the best of my ability.
I’m no longer a carefree youngster. But I’m back in my safe haven where I feel I belong. God has given me, and all of us, so many talents that he wants us to use and share. So please Come All Ye Faithful to celebrate The Most Wonderful Time of the Year. Celebrate the Magic of Christmas … the birth of the Christ Child Away in a Manger in that Little Town of Bethlehem who came unto us on a Clear Midnight. That birth brought Joy to the World in a Silent and Holy Night. Yes, Hark the Herald, the Angels did sing. It was the First Noel. And yes, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, and soon it will begin to look a lot like Christmas. Let’s jingle our bells, and drum our drums. Most importantly, let us remember always that God bestows his Peace on all of us, not because of anything we do, but because of who HE is. To that I say, AMEN.