By Lenora Coberly
After school on December afternoons
the children walked up Baptist
Church Hill to practice for
the Christmas Eve Program.
Mrs. Booth played the piano
as we marched and sang of the
long ago Bethlehem gift brought
to our eager waiting valley.
The little ones, coached to memorize
and stand tall, said their pieces
until their tiny voices reached
back rows where potential Baptists sat.
Shepherds, wisemen, and the Holy Family
were nervous and ready early when
the church bell called all to come
for the year’s most blessed eve.
“0, little town” seemed like home
and “peace on earth” had come.
Finally, as we held our breaths
and listened for sleigh bells
that always rang. “Merry Christmas!”
Santa called as he entered noisily
with his pack filled with boxes
especially for children
who stood and reached for sweet
salvation and love excelling
until the oldest and those
on the back row believed.
As he left Santa called,
‘joy to the world! The Lord is come!”
and the older we grew
the more it sounded like Mr. Pauley,
Sunday School superintendent,
school principal, eighth grade teacher,
father of seven, who taught us to know
there would be Christmas Eves to come
in war and peace, whenever
we heard ‘Joy to the world,
the Lord is come!” and remembered
being loved and loving.