Posted by: skokiecentralchurch | December 25, 2011

2011.12.25 “A Christmas Story”

Central United Methodist Church

“A Christmas Story”

Pastor David L. Haley

Christmas Day

12/25/2011

 

Good morning, and Merry Christmas to you all!

Today we get the rare privilege of worshiping on Christmas Day.  Even though most of us are tired, having just concluded worship 12 hours ago, there is something about Christmas Day that is unlike any other. It brings to mind scenes of Ebenezer Scrooge dancing through the streets of London, a smile on his face and bells tolling in the background, or of George Bailey running through the streets of New Bedford, yelling “Merry Christmas” to all.

However, I have found over the years that when Christmas Day falls on this sequence, and we celebrate Christmas Eve Saturday night and Christmas Day Sunday morning, my parishioner’s most common advice over the years has been, “Keep it short.”  So instead of the 45 minute sermon I had planned on the Incarnation, that’s what I intend to do.

Those of you who listen to Chicago’s classical music station, WFMT, may remember that each year, as part of their Christmas Day programming, Studs Turkel would host a special Christmas program of story and song.  One of the stories he would play was John Henry Faulk’s story about a West Texas Christmas.  I made a tape of it about 10 years ago, but then in 1994, after Faulk died in 1990, National Public Radio played it, and it has become for their audience also an annual Christmas favorite.  That’s where I got it from, and so you will hear their introduction.

Let me say, this story always got to me personally for a couple reasons.  First, the West Texas accent is pretty much the same one my parents speak in West Kentucky, so this story sounds close to home for me. (If you want to hear what I talked like before I got civilized, this is it.)

Second, you need to know that my Dad, Ben Keys Haley, now 91, was born in 1920, as the son of sharecroppers. (And, to make it even more real for me, John Henry Faulk’s voice sounds a lot like my Dad’s voice.) While, as a child of the 50’s I did OK in term’s of Christmas gifts (usually some kind of gun, either play or real), every Christmas my Dad used to tell me how when he was a kid he always felt fortunate at Christmas to get oranges and maybe some clothes, which always seemed unbelievable to me. Of course, I had no idea what the Great Depression was, or what it might have been to grow up then, especially in rural America.

So the story you are about to hear, told by John Henry Faulk, harkens back to a time in America, when people were poorer, when the evil of segregation was still in place, and to when Christmas was simpler, but the joy of Christmas Day was no less great.

Sit back and enjoy. (If you need any translation of the accent, just ask me later. – Pastor Haley)

[Readers: You may read or listen to the story on National Public Radio here  Click the sound icon by “Listen” at the top of the page to hear Faulk tell the story, or read the transcript below]

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