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A Winter Wonder
by Stephen Kimball
11/13/2018 / Holidays
Born and raised in Miami, Florida I was not very familiar with the concept of winter. I had heard of it – I knew it theoretically involved cold air and a powdery white substance called snow but I had never experienced it myself. Winters were famous, in my section of the world, for mild temperatures and an easy ocean breeze that made it very popular with people from the north.
At Christmas time, watching shows like “Frosty the Snowman” or even singing “White Christmas” was vexing to me because I lacked a proper frame of reference. As somewhat of a substitute, I think, a very popular thing to do during the holiday season was to venture out to see the Christmas lights that people had decorated their homes with - and around our city, folks took their Christmas decorations seriously.
One clear and unusually crisp Saturday night, when the temp was actually dipping down into the 60’s, my youth director, David, piled a bunch of us in his car and we headed out to enjoy some lights. After driving around for some time we found our way to the most famous of local light shows.
“The Arch” as it was called, was a well-known and very popular annual event. People would come from all around, park blocks away and walk to enjoy the feeling of being transported to an imaginary place where snowmen wouldn’t melt and Santa Clause was king. The entire street was lit up as good as any Disney light display. There must have been millions of lights adorning the roughly twenty five houses that were taking part in the community project including a canopy of starry lights overhead, suspended on the branches of the magnificent Oaks that lined both sides of the street. Warm temperature notwithstanding, “The Arch” was truly turned into what I perceived to be a winter wonderland.
The area thick with people, we made our way down the walkway in awe of the myriad of lights, music and grandeur of the whole scene, stopping at the only house that held a simple nativity scene. The centerpiece of the yard, though, was a stage that was built for live music but was not in use on this night. They had built the stage around a large tree that was naturally growing in the middle of the yard and decorated it to transform it into the most stunning Christmas tree I had ever witnessed.
“Wait here”, David insisted, as he walked over to the front porch to visit with the owners of the home. My friends and I had no idea what he was up to but then again we were never surprised very much by the antics of our young leader. Before long, he was up on the stage, with a microphone, encouraging the crowds to gather around. The music, which had been pumped from this stage to speakers up and down the street, was temporarily stifled and a hush came over the crowd - he opened his Bible.
“I just want to take a minute tonight to convey to you all the true meaning of Christmas…” He proceeded to read the Christmas story out of the book of Luke. “…Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”
When he finished reading the passage, there was a still silence in the air. All eyes were fixed on my friend, who I suspect hadn’t thought this through completely beforehand. At that moment, I felt like I could hear my heart beating aloud with the blinking of the lights on the tree. Just then, from somewhere in the middle of the crowd, an angelic voice spontaneously began to sing out a rousing rendition of “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.” After the first line, it seemed the whole crowd joined in to praise and worship the true King - Jesus.
As the crowd disbursed we stood in wonder at what had just taken place. Barely able to contain himself, David re-joined our group with an ear to ear grin and a look in his eyes that indicated he was as amazed as we were.
“And that’s how it’s done.” David quipped, with a laugh.
That experience made quite the impression on me and my friends and I suspect others who were blessed to be a part of that impromptu Christmas Choir, in our little South Florida Winter Wonderland.
*Story based on actual events.
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