"The Voice Of Christmas"
( By Bob Perks)

12-22-2010 Church Within SOW Seeds Service - Story # 619
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Welcome
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Greetings my Dearest Sisters and Brothers, and welcome again to Church Within's Story of the Week ["SOW Seeds"].

Now of course, those of you who pay Really Close attention every week to these stories will have surely noticed that in fact last weeks SOW wasn't Really SOW #739 as I errantly typed into the e-mailed copy of the story (I fixed it on the web-site), but rather SOW #618. Good Job!!! You Caught it!!! For the rest of you… As Rosanne Rosannadanna (by Gilda Radner) used to say… "Never Mind."

This weeks Story really got to me… My mom was the one who sang "Oh Holy Night" every year at the church I grew up in. I was a Choir Loft child, as both my parents were Avid Church Choir members. Mom really had an Extraordinary Solo Voice… got me crying Every Time…

This week's SOW Seeds Story, contributed by: Bob Perks

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Story of the Week
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The Voice Of Christmas
(By Bob Perks)

He had been a long-time member of the church but refused to show up for services, let alone join. He was an integral part of the Christmas Choir, but would not attend rehearsals. Still, everyone looked forward to seeing him once a year. So much, in fact, they would hold a seat for him at the candlelight service every Christmas Eve.

Many of the congregation would arrive early to get a good seat near the gentleman. Was it his personality? No, he really kept to himself, rarely sharing a word with anyone. It was his voice. "Oh Holy Night" was his song.

Throughout his life, he often wished for the chance to perform it at a local church. Although the spirit of Christmas had left his heart years ago, with the passing of his wife, this one song, those special lyrics, belonged to him. It was said that it was her favorite song and, although poor, the richness of his voice was his gift to her. This church, that night, was always theirs.

As the service progressed, anticipation would build. Everyone joined in singing "Silent Night," "Oh Little Town of Bethlehem" and others. Then the big moment would arrive.

The choir would stand, the church organ would begin to play. "O holy night, the stars are brightly shining" was the intro sung by the 12-member choir. Then, as if Heaven had opened its doors, the choir softly faded, and the man began to sing...

"It is the night of the dear Savior's birth!
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope, the weary soul rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn."

You could feel the excitement as music began to build to the refrain...

"Fall on your knees, O hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born!
O night, O holy night, O night divine!"

By this time, there was never a dry eye.

After the service, the man would blend into the crowd and exit the rear door. The tradition lived on until a month before Christmas that year. He had joined his love, his reason to sing.

"What will they do?" one of the elders asked. "Who could take his place?"

No one. No one would dare attempt to fill his spot. It would be difficult indeed to come close to that long-treasured moment.

"We will do the song in his memory," the choir director declared.

"But, who among us will sing his part?"

"God had blessed us with his voice, and His earthly choir is not made of only one single voice," he assured them. "He
will bless us again."

That Christmas Eve, as everyone filled the church, you could hear the choir, warming up in the basement. A small piano began playing, followed by, "O holy night, the stars are brightly shining" then silence.

The minister began by welcoming everyone and, in particular, the visitors, family and friends, who return home each year.

"In the center of the church, you will notice a single seat, holding a bouquet of Christmas flowers. It is in memory of a man we called, `The Voice of Christmas.'"

The service began building to that very moment they all waited for. Lights dimmed, and a young child, holding a single candle in his hand, walked toward the front. The organist began the intro, and the choir stood to sing, "O holy night, the stars are brightly shining..."

There was a sudden hush and the faint sound of one small voice singing...

"It is the night of the dear Savior's birth!
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope, the weary soul rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn."

The organ stopped. The choir remained standing as everyone looked to see where the voice was coming from.

"Over there! I couldn't believe it. That beautiful voice was the child, the child holding the candle."

He slowly, nervously turned around toward the crowd and said, "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to..." and he began to cry.

The choir director rushed to his side and assured him everything was fine. Then the young boy said, "I always sang along, but no one could hear me. Some man was always louder than me."

Laughter filled the church. The minister declared, "God has indeed answered our prayers. We are blessed once again with `The Voice of Christmas.'"

The organist began again as the young boy was lifted up to sing, and they all joined in...

"Fall on your knees, O hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born!
O night, O holy night, O night divine!"

We are each called to be His Voice, not only at Christmas but all year long.

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Pastor's Quote of the Week
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Everything that God created is potentially holy, and our task as humans is to find that holiness in seemingly unholy situations. When we can do this, we will have learned to nurture our souls.

(From: Rabbi Harold Kushner )

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The Prayer
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Dear God,        
        I can think of nothing to say to You right now other than Thank You! So… Thank You!!!

You ALL are Within the Infinitely Loving Embrace of our Universal Parent,

The Creator's Eternal Love to all of You,
Pastor Daniel


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