The comical looking crew crept across the expansive lawn like inept criminals. Several hunkered low and moved along the ancient stone walls winding toward the home. Others scurried stealthily between randomly spaced trees, hiding with playful grins behind massive trunks or brilliantly flowing foliage. As they approached, all twelve kept an eye on the seemingly quiet dwelling awaiting them on the hill.
“It’s not like he doesn’t know we are coming,” whispered Thomas to the nearby figure army crawling along the ground.
“Well, if you want to get technical,” responded Matthew, “it’s not Christmas time either.”
“It’s always Christmas here!” blurted a sudden, blurry form darting between the two.
It was Peter, barefooted as usual, sporting faded cargo shorts and a billowing Hawaiian shirt. Thomas and Matthew both laughed, a little too loudly, as they watched their pal perform an impromptu somersault and roll to a stop behind the cover of a butterfly bush. Its winged inhabitants fluttered momentarily before settling back down on the snow-white blooms.
The home itself was a simple, yet beautiful structure, and the dashing dozen eventually regrouped near its long, inviting porch. Two staggered rows of six cleared their throats.
“Okay boys,” said John, after whispering the first selection, “now or forever.”
“Now!” answered his brother James, and the clandestine carolers exploded in song.
Hark, the herald angels sing,
Glory to the new-born King…
Their hearts leapt and their voices slightly quivered as the home’s Cypress doors opened. Smiling and mimicking the motions of a choir director, Jesus walked to the porch’s edge. He sat on the topmost step and soaked in the remaining verses.
“Glorious,” Jesus commended, clapping for the carolers as they concluded. “Simply glorious.”
The second selection belonged to Andrew. He stepped from the group, rolled back the sleeves of his robe, and raised a stringed instrument the eyes of Earth had never seen, and unfortunately, the ears of Earth had never heard. He strummed softly, gracefully, and soon accompanied the mesmerizing chords with his chosen lyrics.
Silent Night, Holy Night,
All is calm, all is bright…
The others joined in perfect harmony, and in collective humility, never rose in volume above Andrew. As the last verse floated along the breeze, Jesus closed his eyes and allowed a single tear to slide down and off his cheek.
“Oh, Andrew, how you worship in such spirit and truth,” spoke the King. “Thank you.”
One by one, the remaining apostles each led the Lord's carolers in a song of reverence or joy. James, yearning for something upbeat, rallied the choir in a rip-roaring “Jingle Bells.” Thomas, initially uncertain if he had made the right choice, settled on “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear”, and pulled it off masterfully. Peter, in a rich baritone unrivaled in the great music halls of Earth, dropped to a knee and bellowed “Away in a Manger.”
The audience of one never left the step nor let the grateful smile leave his lips. He clapped and laughed and praised the performances of those who loved him so deeply. When Simon crooned “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas,” Jesus signaled a cloud above to sprinkle snow around the carolers.
Finally, only Matthew remained. He stepped forward, removed the red stocking hat with the puffy white ball, stuffed it into the front pouch of his overalls, and lowered his eyes.
“Lord,” said Matthew. “Like my friends I have no desire for any songs about Santa…”
At the mention of the hefty red elf’s name, James and John began booing in unison like rowdy college football fans upset at the opposing team. Jesus held up a hand to silence the thunderous brothers.
“It is okay Matthew,” spoke Jesus, still smiling. “I know what song is on your heart. It is a song of joy…and joy is the business of Heaven. And besides, how could I ever disapprove of a song with such an inspiring story? Don’t worry my friend, I gladly welcome the celebration of a scorned and ridiculed individual who was a light for his people during a time of darkness. So sing away Matthew, sing away!”
Matthew snapped his fingers and tapped his foot. Finding his rhythm, he belted out the opening verses with unrestrained joy, knowing his background singers would soon join in.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,
Had a very shiny nose…
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