Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

December 24, 2006


Christmas Eve is a good time to get on your aging knees and give thanks


       Christmas Eve is a great day for giving thanks. That is what I plan to do tonight in the company of my wife and some of our family members.

          I love it when Christmas falls on a Monday. That way we can have a great day of worship on Sunday. Attendance should be better than usual. I know some dear souls will be cooking all day despite the fact that their grandmothers would have done it all on Saturday. But things change and we learn not to sweat the small stuff.

          Christmas Eve means Holy Communion. Most of us preachers love this special service. Families often come to receive communion together just after or before going shopping. Small children are not sure what communion means but nonetheless they enjoy it.

          Some Christmas Eve memories are very special. I always think of Charles and Jennifer Jones and their family. They never missed communion and they always arrived at the same time – just as the service was ending.

          One year when their son Robert was seven or eight, he remembered the wad of bubblegum in his mouth as he approached the altar. He knew he should have disposed of it earlier but he refused to panic. Without missing a beat, he discretely removed the gum from his mouth and with a sly smile handed it to me. Only the most observant souls saw the transaction occur.

          Ever since that night I have felt good about Robert. He has what it takes to handle the ups and downs of life and keep smiling. If he becomes a lawyer I would love to be one of his clients.

          Another special Christmas memory is the year that our oldest son Matt sang “The Little Drummer Boy” in the Upper Room Chapel in Nashville. He was 12 at the time and did a surprisingly good job. We had no idea that his singing career would begin and end that day. So far as I know he has not sung a solo since and he will turn 50 next year.

          Tonight I will help serve communion in our church to many different people. Some have the world by the tail and their worries are few. Some will be teary-eyed, knowing that this may be the last Christmas they will have with someone they love dearly. Actually none of us knows how many more days we have left on this earth.

          But that is the way life is. We have to embrace it all – the good and the bad, the bitter and the sweet, the joy and the sorrow – and like Robert, walk on and keep smiling. We all struggle. We all suffer. We all hurt when families are being torn apart and no happy solution is in sight.

          Still, we can give thanks! Despite our pain we have so much for which to be thankful. The alternative is to curse God and allow cynicism to rule the day. However, bitterness is a dead-end street. Its end is always gnashing of teeth and lonely darkness. As long as there is one sip of joy left in the cup we must not let bitterness rob us of its sweetness.

          On aging knees, tonight I shall give thanks to the Father for sending his Son. I shall praise him for all the reconciliation that has been mine because of his grace. I shall ask him to grant sweet reconciliation to all my family and friends who still have not found it.

          Are their tears on the cheeks of thanksgiving? Of course. Tears come so quickly when we recall God’s mercy and remember that we did not deserve it. Tears gush freely as we recall tough times when things did not go as we had hoped but somehow we found the strength to go on. Broken things were picked up and unseen hands helped us put life back together.

          As long as old knees will bend, and stubborn hearts can become submissive, there will be reasons to bow down and give thanks on Christmas Eve. Christmas will mean more to young and old. May it be so for you and those you love.

          Merry Christmas. + + + +