This Saturday, the Albia Victorian Stroll takes place. I hope you are able to attend this wonderful community event with so many wonderful things to see and do to officially kick off the Advent, Christmas season.

It is hard to believe it has been several years since through the commitment of so many, that we acquired the wonderful Nativity for the square. I well remember the first year it was up seeing small children approach it, especially the stable, with awe. Of course therein are Mary, Joseph, and the infant Jesus. God incarnate. I saw Sunday school teachers take classes to it and will never forget the wonderful note left in a bale of straw from a widower who was so moved by it.

Sunday, the Advent season, the weeks leading up to Christmas begin. And the day, the season that nativity represents happens. And with that same kind of awe and yet infinitely more, that those small children had when they first saw the life sized nativity on the courthouse lawn, we need to be moved, touched, transformed by all Christmas is. It is a time of hope, wonder, love, miracles when God sent His own Son who is indeed God in the flesh, to redeem mankind.

In a terribly dark world Jesus, long awaited Messiah, came to earth, born in a stable in Bethlehem, the City of David to bring light and hope and salvation to all who would receive Him.

Around the world, millions will celebrate this day of days. Millions will read the story, sing the songs, share the color, the customs and the message. Millions will, though, be alone, in desperate poverty and ill, or in nations where persecution is rife. But in whatever condition one finds themselves in, the true wonder of Christmas is still there. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him would not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16. Isaiah called Him, "Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Prince of Peace, Everlasting Father.

Christmas is a birthday as Burl Ives’ great song said many years ago. And because of Him, we can be born again into a living hope and a glorious future.

Embrace Jesus this Christmas. It isn’t about the gifts under the tree but having the greatest Gift of all in your heart...Jesus. The innkeeper had no room for Mary and Joseph, make sure you make room for Jesus in your life.

This Christmas for me will be dramatically different. For many of you, too. For the first time in 60 years my mom and dad and I will not be celebrating as our family did in the great Victorian home on Benton Avenue. And as I sit here in my dad’s room at the Monroe Care Center tonight, I think about that and how blessed we were to have so many there. Today, we decorated my 101-year-old dad's room. It looks great. He loves it as he and my mom always have loved Christmas. I pray and I hope you will too, that he, my mom and I can have one more great Christmas Day together here. For you see the wonder of Christmas really wasn’t where you share it but with whom. And knowing that the whom you share it with know and love Jesus makes it even more treasured.

I have had that blessing.

All in all, what I am saying to you is this...this Christmas contemplate the wonder of it all...just to realize how much the Lord loves you. Come to the stable, come to the manger again. Come and behold Christ the Lord.

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