“Oh, the places we have been!!” December brings more memories than can be counted on two hands!! Nibs and I have begun remembering the many places we have been during Advent as we have served Oakhurst Church. These are a few of the memories we have of our study of the Christmas stories during Sunday classes and worship.

We have met old friends in the Christmas stories of Matthew and Luke in new ways. We have been enriched with learning about Howard Thurman, Langston Hughes, George F. Handel, Anne Weems and Brian Wren and other writers of poem and song. We visited with the Saints of Christmas, traveling to Turkey to meet St. Nicholas, to Sicily and Sweden to hear the story of a young martyr (St. Lucia), and then to Assisi to enjoy the story of the first outdoor manger scene with St. Francis.

Did you know that each angel messenger brought these words: “Be Not Afraid”? We visited with the smelly shepherds, pondered with the wise leaders, enjoyed telling the legends of plants, animals and flowers. Many of you have shared the customs your countries of origin: the Christmas story from Africa, Jamaica (remember the Bob Marley angel!!) and Latin America. The nearby hills of Appalachia gave us the stories of Native Americans, Africans and Europeans who came to live, work and create a living culture. We learned the secret of the quilts that were hung by Africans who were slaves to spread the word about the next “train” leaving on the underground railroad.

We have shaken the family tree of Jesus as we revisited many times the links between the Old and New Covenants of God. Through studying the insights of the names found in the genealogy of Jesus, we learned about the longest names, the shortest names, the amazing women listed, the high and low of the ancestors of Jesus. Our time with the covenant couples, beginning with Abraham and Sarah, reminds us that those who were ordinary became extraordinary answering God’s call to venture into “all things new.”

Our exploring sermons through dialogue began with the Colors of Christmas, 1987. Each week we hung the colors of Christmas on the wall behind the pulpit. On the last Sunday before Christmas we had a rainbow. We also admired the new banners created by Virginia Gailey and the new steps for the pulpit made by James Gailey.

Most often the sermons we have preached together happened around Nibs’ birthday. And as Thelma Thomas says—we always tease him about his love of presents!

We have shared the folks of the Christmas stories and found our stories in theirs. Thanks be to God for the blessings of this season! You have given us this season each year to share the new insights and the joys of new understandings into those faithful witnesses who brought us the Good News! We are sustained in knowing that God is with us from now through all the years to come!! Thanks to each and all of you for your love, kindness and especially for enjoying this amazing season of Advent with us each year! Each of you have given us more presents of love and joy than can be counted! Thank you all!!

Joy to the World from our family to yours!

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