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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Christmas Carols/Carolling (10/02/08)

TITLE: Black Olives and Silent Night
By Becca Gossman


A Pastor’s wife gets to meet all kinds of people; and…people meet you. Everywhere I’ve been someone “knows me from somewhere.” I guess I look like a lot of people, because I’ve never met most of any of them from anywhere, but there.
It’s always fun to meet new people. Most people are your honest hard working ordinary Americans who are desperately trying to make it through another week of heavy cares and responsibilities, who really love the Lord and want to serve Him. There are those who are retired and yearn for the “good ole days;” and then there are those innocent individuals who have experienced a hard life by our own standards; yet carefree by their own.
In this group of individuals there was Ted.
Ted was probably 56-60 when I met him in my 30’s. He had experienced some sort of tragedy at an early age and was never able to overcome the situation and basically survived as a child in an adult’s body. He was given a ride every week by a couple who was concerned with his well-being. Sweet and tender to the core was Ted.
The first Sunday I sat in a morning service with Ted was my first Sunday as the Pastor’s wife and because we hadn’t finished unpacking, and my shoes were nowhere to be found I had to go barefoot. That didn’t bother Ted any he was ready to discard his own shoes when his “guardians” asked him not to, and he just walked over to the first pew and sat down. We sang a few songs and my husband prepared to do “something spiritual” by taking the offering. Ted stood up, he was tall, probably 6’2 or 3”, walked up to the pulpit, planted his large hands on the top of the pulpit and hollered, “Pastor you got a quarter I can borrow, I ain’t got no offering.”
Ted… I liked Ted! We had potluck once a month and Ted always brought black olives. Large black olives, and always filled his plate with all the black olives that he brought. One Sunday Ted wasn’t feeling up to his usual self, his back was bothering him. I told Ted, “Just sit down and I’ll get your plate for you.” I filled up his plate, brought it to him and went back to help my boys fill their plates.
Suddenly, there was a great commotion, and I heard, “Bethany!” I turned to see Ted holding up both hands, with a black olive on the send of six fingers. “Bethany, you only gave me six olives, I need ten!” I mentioned casually to someone that I only gave him six so there would be some left for others, and she said, “Oh, no honey, he brings the olives, he wants all of them.” From then on, I always made sure I brought a couple extra cans of black olives to potluck.
Ted, he loved olives and he loved to sing. He didn’t always know the words, and he didn’t always sing on key, but he sang loud and loved every minute of every stanza. One of the most precious memories I have as a Pastor’s wife was that year Christmas Eve fell on Sunday. We were singing Christmas carols and Ted was singing loud. It was a grand time. Then, my husband stood up to give the Christmas message. Before he got started, Ted stood up, walked to the aisle, stood in front of the pulpit and in perfect key and in a low gentle voice sang, “Silent Night, Holy Night.”
Tears came to everyone’s eyes as Ted finished and sat back down. Peace filled the air and the service was complete. I’m sure that year that Jesus looked down upon the manger scene in our small church and was pleased with the offering that Ted sang to Him that cold Christmas Eve, and smiled with the rest of us.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 10/10/08
A lovely character study, and a picture of grace on the part of the narrator.

For your readers' ease, please hit an extra "enter" at each paragraph. You might also do a double-check for run-on sentences.

I felt as if I knew Ted by the time I'd finished this story, and I'm richer now for knowing him.
Charla Diehl 10/11/08
This is a sweet story of acceptance and grace. Loved Ted's innocent and honest behavior throughout.

It flowed nicely, but agree it should be broken into several paragraphs for easier reading.