Larry Lilly's Letter Friday December 23, 2005
Through the days of December 2005 I have written from a Christmas theme, which is hard at first thought, but rather simple when you apply the truth of the Babe in the manger to the large scheme of things. Redemption, which many folks prior to giving much thought relegate to Calvary and the resurrection. Each facet of the Christ story is essential to the whole, for if one part is askew, the rest of the story falls like a house of cards. The Birth of Christ gives us the first clear look at the panorama of redemption, for when all is said and done, 'He shall save his people from their sins.'
Over the years as a Christian, my life has been greatly enriched by hearing a multitude of men and woman, proclaim, often in a hushed, whisper like voice, "This is the first Christmas I have been sober since I was a kid." Once, in a Christmas service, a child responded to the above testimony with, "And it's the first one the Sheriff didn't have to be called!" I took the liberty to misapply a biblical truth and remarked, "Son, when a person comes to Christ, the law is no longer necessary!" Galatians 3:24-25.
In the little town were I grew up, Christmas was another special day to get drunk! I think I heard more sirens from police cars than Silver Bells! The folks were poor and for the most part uprooted from the old home places in the South, come to Maryland to find work and feed the family. The work wasn't anything at first to write home about and respite from the deep inner pain was searched for at the bottom a whiskey bottle, actually more often at the bottom a bottle of cheap wine, referred to as 'Sneaky Pete.' This fresh from the vine nectar, numbed the mind, loosed the morals and stole the money needed for food, clothes and even shelter. Most of the kids somehow made it out of that place that seemed to me 'God forsaken' and went on to a better life, many of us through the intervention of Jesus in our life. When some of us meet it is often remarked that the good Lord established our little neighborhood in order for the 'good' people of the town to have somebody to look down on!
I recall one Christmas when I was about 11 or 12 going to a friends house on Christmas afternoon and seeing his father stone cold drunk, sitting in front of a red hot chunk stove, a scrawny Christmas tree in the corner of the tiny shot gun house, the wife standing by a surplus Army blanket, strung on wire to act as a room divider, nursing a baby, and crying her heart out, mumbling through her tears to her near catatonic husband, "This living up here, aint what we thought it'ed be." In later years I watched as the man and woman and a few of the children sat in the aggressive church of that area with the radiance of Christ on their faces singing their hearts out as they rejoiced in the light of the little town of Bethlehemís most famous Son. Christ does make the difference.
I seldom write of the people of my hometown for fear that I may in some way trivialize their suffering during that time in our life. I am glad that many of them, and me, finally had a merry Christmas through faith in Christ.
Larry Lilly Copyright © 2005 Use with credit
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Nicely written. You have deep feelings for family roots. I especially like the line "radiance of Christ on their faces." That is one of the striking features of true Christians - the radiance indeed shines through to our daily lives. God Bless.