Merry Christmas, Shelby County

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Christmas is a very special time of year for a variety of reasons. One of those which I have learned to really appreciate is the written material about the holiday.

This material comes to the newspaper in the form of letters, emails and many, many church bulletins.

I’ve chosen two such special items to share with you from area church bulletins this week.

I encourage you to ponder the meaning, as I did, of these two special articles.

The first is a Christmas version of I Corinthians 13, known to many as the &uot;Love&uot; chapter. I think many people could benefit from thinking about the meaning of this one, adapted by Elder Renee Brown.

I read it in the Dec. 16 bulletin of the Elliottsville Presbyterian Church.

&uot;If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights and shiny balls, but do not show love to my family, I’m just another decorator.

If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies and arranging a beautifully adorned table, but do not show love to my family, I’m just another cook.

If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home and give all that I have to charity, but do not show love to my family, it profits me nothing.

If I trim the tree with shimmering angels, attend myriad holiday parties and sing in the choir’s cantata, but do not focus on Christ, I have missed the point.

Love stops the cooking to hug the child. Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the husband. Love is kind, though harried and tired. Love doesn’t envy another’s home with coordinated Christmas china and table linens.

Love doesn’t yell at the kids to get out of the way, but is thankful they are home.

Love doesn’t give only to those who are able to give in return, but rejoices in giving to those who can’t.

Loves bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.

Video games will break. Pearl necklaces will be lost, golf clubs will rust; but giving the gift of love will endure.&uot;

Another special item came from the Dec. 16 bulletin of the Calera United Methodist Church and told the legend of the friendly beasts.

I’ve always been fascinated by the animals that surrounded Jesus when he was born. My Sunday school preschool class was this past Sunday as well. We talked about the cow, the donkey, the goat and the sheep for a long time.

The story about the animals goes like this:

&uot;There’s an old Christmas legend about the animals who shared the stable with the Christ child.

Each animal bestowed a gift on him. The legend says the animals in the stable gained the power of speech for the night. Here’s a portion of the English Christmas carol based on the legend:

Jesus, our brother, kind and good,

Was humbly born in a stable rude;

And the friendly beasts around him stood.

Jesus, our brother, kind and good.

‘I,’ said the donkey, shaggy and brown,

‘I carried his mother up hill and down;

I carried her safely to Bethlehem town.’

‘I,’ said the donkey, shaggy and brown.

‘I,’ said the cow, all white and red,

‘I gave him my manger for a bed;

I gave him my hay to pillow his head.’

‘I,’ said the cow, all white and red.

Thus every beast by some glad spell,

In the stable dark was glad to tell

Of the gift he gave Emmanuel,

The gift he gave Emmanuel.&uot;

Merry Christmas, Shelby County, from the staff of the Shelby County Reporter.

Candace Parker is the news editor of the Shelby County Reporter. She can be reached at