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

By Kenneth Heath



Sitting on the porch with a steaming cup of coffee in his hand, Simon gazed into the starry heavens. It was the night before Christmas and he needed to get away from the commercialism that Christmas had become. Inside, the television was blaring as his siblings flipped through the channels trying to find something of interest to watch. Much earlier they had finished a delicious “Braaivleis”(BBQ) and had spent time sitting around the Christmas tree opening gifts and having fun as a family.

Since their children had grown up and were scattered all over the world, they had not been together as a family over Christmas for many years. Earlier their children had recounted their Christmas experiences away from home.

Dale, a TV editor who lived in Africa’s’ largest city, had spent his Christmas the year before working through the night doing urgent changes to shows that had to air on Christmas day. It was a lonely vigil, just himself, his computers and the coffee machine, “Boring and lonely,” he said.

Lara had been working on the cruise ships and after working a 13-hour shift, had spent what was left of the day in the crew lounge celebrating with her friends, while the ship fought off 50 ft waves in a force nine gale in mid-Atlantic. “It was hectic trying to stand up,” she recalled.

Michelle had been living in London and told a different tale. There had been snow on the ground, Christmas decorations galore and people singing carols in the street. Sure, a lot of it was commercialism, but you could visualize the picture perfect postcard she described. “It was the best time of my life, a dream come true, a picture post card Christmas,” she said.

Gazing at Gods fingerprint in the African heavens, Simon sighed as he reflected at just how superficial Christmas had become. It was a warm summers’ evening and he could scarcely imagine traipsing around in the snow, let alone singing carols. The Crux or Southern Cross was shining brightly with Centaurus to its left, Hydra way above them and the Milky Way below them. How awesome he mused. God had placed the stars in the heavens for signs, signs of His redemption plan for mankind, not for fortune telling as the world system believed.

The most important event in human history had been heralded by a multitude of angels singing “Glory to God in the highest and goodwill to all men.” It was a song of redemption and hope, sung to shepherds out in the fields. It was a new song, a song of joy as Gods’ plan was revealed not only to the heavenly host but also to all mankind. It is a song that should be sung everyday as we celebrate the new life we have been given through Christ Jesus.

Sadly, Simon could not sing. It was not that song was absent from his life; to the contrary, he was bursting with new songs. Every fiber of his being strained with them, but the truth of the matter was Simon could not sing. When he burst forth into song, the creatures of the forest would become still and scurry away to safety. In church the faithful would sit far from him as his toneless voice destroyed the beautiful praise and worship of the morning. It was said that his singing brought tears to the eyes of anyone who had the misfortune to be within hearing range.

From his youth all he wanted to do was sing. Music was to a large extent the love his life and yet the cacophony of sound that escaped his lips, excluded him from the worship-team and any other type of song.

Inside the house, music burst forth as they found a Christmas program on TBN. Songs of praise and worship invaded the silence, as the carolers brought our family together in the lounge, and we all joined in to celebrate the birth of our Lord.

“Hear the bells ringing, they’re singing that you can be born again!” Turning up the volume, Simon joined in as his family sang along to the wonderful songs of old. “Oh come all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant.”

“The heavens declare the Glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.” Yes even in Africa we can sing forth our praises, even with a voice like Simons’.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 10/11/08
Thanks for this look at an African Christmas! I was surprised at how familiar it seemed to me. Nicely done.
Beth LaBuff 10/12/08
I enjoyed your mention of these familiar carols and this story about Simon … soon he'll be able to sing with a heavenly choir. :) I love the verse/song you ended with. Thanks!
Norma-Anne Hough10/14/08
Lovely story my friend. Here in Africa we normally do have the best weather. Thanks for sharing and interesting to see how different the kid's christmas's were. Love to you all,