Posted by: skokiecentralchurch | December 25, 2016

2016.12.25 “A Christmas Story”

Central United Methodist Church
A Christmas Story
Pastor David L. Haley
Christmas Day
12/25/2016

nativity-siloutte080

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, 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 in this sequence, and we celebrate Christmas Eve Saturday night and Christmas Day Sunday morning, my parishioner’s most common advice has been, “Keep it Short.”  So instead of the 45 minute sermon I had planned on the Incarnation, I want to share a Christmas Story.

johnhenryfaulkThose of you who listen to Chicago’s classical music station, WFMT, may remember that each year, as part of their Christmas Day programming, the late Studs Turkel would host a Christmas program of story and song. One of the stories he would play every year 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 an annual Christmas favorite. (That’s where I got it from, and so you will hear their introduction.)

Let me say, this story always had a personal appeal to me for a couple reasons.  First, the West Texas accent is pretty much the same one my parents spoke 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, who died 4 years ago at the age of 91, was born in 1920, the son of sharecroppers. (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 terms 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 Christmas was simpler, and when the evil of segregation was still in place, but the joy of Christmas Day was no less great.  Take a listen: [Readers: You may listen to the story on National Public Radio here.]

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