It was December 22rd
rushed home from work to get ready to leave for Bernsville to join the
family for Christmas. Bernsville was home.
's mom and dad were in their late seventies, still spry, but
knew time was running short for them.
was Executive Vice-president of his company.
was un-married but with a special interest in someone
met at church convention a year ago.
rushed into his condo and threw some clothes into his suitcase, he
collected the gifts he put together for everyone and carried everything
out to his SUV.
had twelve hours of driving time ahead of him. At least twelve hours of
driving time, weather permitting. On the way home,
heard on the radio there was a heavy snow warning out for the next
twenty-four hours covering all of the U.S northeast.
was not worried about the weather. His SUV, now out of style, had a four
wheel drive and the SUV could handle any kind of snowfall.
Christmas was always
the big family re-union. Brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles,
friends of friends gathered at
's parent's old two-story home. Everyone planned to arrive on Christmas
Eve as in previous years.
left early to get there early.
's mother, Emma, decorated nearly every inch of every room. Christmas was
the one time everyone made a special effort to get together. All the young
kids brought sleeping bags and slept on the floor.
Already dark, the
snow was falling as Roy pulled out of the driveway at 7:00 PM. Roy figured
with no delays he would get home for Christmas at 7:00 AM on the 23rd,
just in time for some of his mom's massive breakfast she liked to fix.
headed out to I-80 figuring he would be missing any rush hour traffic. The
radio kept updating the weather forecast and things kept getting more and
more ominous weather-wise. Now, instead of just calling for heavy
snowfall, the weather advisory was upgraded to a blizzard. The snow seemed
to be going horizontal and right at
as he traveled on I-80. Looking at the clock,
saw the clock was reading about 10:30 PM. The weather bulletins were now
being interspersed with road closings. Some interstates were even being
closed. The conditions on I-80 were getting seriously bad with drifting
and blowing snow closing down the interstate to one lane on both sides of
thought this Christmas was not looking too good for a re-union.
's travel speed was now about 25 mpg. Suddenly a bigger blast of snow hit
's SUV, the SUV for some reason started to stall out.
got seriously, seriously concerned. Then
blasted through about a four foot drift but 100 yards away,
's SUV nearly ground to a halt in an even deeper drift.
knew I-80. He had traveled the interstate
for years. He knew just ahead about a mile or so, he would hit the
Cloverton exit. Inching ahead at about ten miles an hour,
saw the exit sign, although the sign was not readable because snow had
obliterated the wording. There was a truck stop at the exit.
figured he could hang out at the truck stop until the storm blew over.
had been in the truck stop's coffee shop a few times so he knew he could
still get some java until the place ran out.
pulled over toward the exit ramp and crept up the ramp to S.R. 19.
did not see any lights where he expected lights from the 24 hour truck
headed to where the truck stop should have been but the place was dark.
figured the place had been closed due to the economy.
was now sensing he was really in a fix.
didn't see a light of any kind or a vehicle of any kind, anywhere. He
thought about turning around and heading back to I-80 but just as the
thought entered his mind, he heard on the radio I-80 was shut down both
believed he was about eight miles from
thought he might find a place to stay or someone to stay with in Cloverton.
About six miles down S.R. 19
barely saw the Cloverton Motel. The motel appeared to be a hold-over from
the forties or fifties when motels were being built right and left to
accommodate the days when
hit the open road. Somehow the motel had lights on. There were no cars
anywhere in the parking lot of the motel but
saw a light on inside of what he perceived to be the motel office.
pulled the SUV up next to the office.
crawled out of the SUV and tried to make his way through the blizzard to
the office door.
opened the door and felt the warm air inside the office envelop him. The
office manager or whoever he was, was an older gentleman likely in his
eighties. Unbelievably, the guy had a long white beard. The guy wasn't
wearing a red suit, just a flannel shirt, jeans, and suspenders. The room
looked like it was new but very old, like the room was from a 1950's
museum. There was a Philo console radio (the tall kind) and an RCA black
and white television looking like it was also from the 1950's. The room
was decorated wall to wall with Christmas deco.
thought about how his mom always decorated heavily for Christmas.
The old guy, who even
seemed to act like a Santa Claus, asked Roy if he needed a room and Roy
said "Yes, the blizzard has shut down everything and even I-80."
The old guy said, "Well, no problem, we got 20 units and you are the
only customer. Why don't you go over there by the Christmas tree and sit a
spell. The wife just made some hot cocoa and cookies." The old guy
introduced himself as Joe and said his wife's name was Mary.
thought the names were almost too coincidental.
met Mary as she brought in the hot cocoa and cookies. The three people sat
next to the Christmas tree and exchanged conversation for awhile.
suddenly noticed a nativity set next to the tree.
knew his eyes were playing tricks on him but he thought the figures in the
scene were moving. The figures were all about a foot tall and for the life
thought the figures were alive. As
became engrossed in the figures in the nativity scene, he could see Mary
holding the baby Jesus. The scene and the reality of the scene was
astounding. There was also the silence. There was a silence in the room
beyond any silence
had ever experienced. The silence was as if every moving thing in creation
stopped at the birth of Christ.
did not know how long he was transfixed. The time could have been minutes
or hours. The time did not matter. This time of being transfixed on the
birth of Christ became a time of reflection, recommitment, and new
. Being caught up in all things business, with his company nearing
bankruptcy, and a cratering economy,
didn't think much about God. Being at the manger scene helped
see what was really important…and what was really important wasn't
business. What was really important was Christ Jesus.
The silence was
broken when Joe said "It is quite a scene isn't it
said "Yes, I am a Christian, but somehow I have forgotten about the
power of Christ's birth to the world. I've forgotten about how Christ was
the original gift."
Joe said, "Would
you like a key to your room?"
replied, "Yes, if the blizzard keeps up, I may be here for more than
one day." Joe gave
the room key.
said thanks and went to the room after pulling his bags out of the SUV.
Even the motel room looked new but old. There was a new radio looking like
it was built in the 1950's in the room. The radio was one of those old
tube types. The bed felt better than comfortable. The scene of Jesus,
Mary, and Joseph filled
's mind as he drifted off to sleep.
rolled over and looked at his watch. It
was 8:30 AM. As
was getting dressed, there was a knock on the door.
went to the door, opened the door, and Joe was standing outside. Joe said,
come on over to the office. Mary has a huge breakfast ready to eat.
replied, "OK, I'll be over in just a minute."
Indeed, Mary had a
huge breakfast ready. It was the kind of mega-breakfast
's mother liked to fix. The three people sat down at the table and Joe
said a special prayer of thanks. Joe prayed
would have safe passage to
's home. After breakfast, Joe drew
a map to enable
to get home within a few hours. Somehow
believed Joe knew which roads were open and which roads were not.
put fifty dollars on the table, using two twenties and one ten to pay for
his room and food. Joe, Mary, and Roy all wished each other a Merry
Christmas and said good-bye.
True to form,
following Joes map,
got home in record time taking back roads and parts of highways that
remained open. Incredulous,
was able to navigate when the whole region was shut down from the
was greeted warmly by his family who were all expecting
to not make Christmas this year. Later that day,
found the fifty dollars he had given Joe and Mary tucked in his shirt
felt bad and decided on his return trip after Christmas to stop at the
Cloverleaf Motel and insist Joe and Mary accept the money and a special
was going to give them.
followed Joes map back to the Cloverleaf Motel or at least where
thought the Cloverleaf Motel should be. For some reason,
could not find the motel.
stopped at a nearby service station and asked about the location of the
motel. The old gentleman running the service station sort of laughed and
said, "You know, other people come in here from time to time wanting
to find that motel. Some of them have told me they stayed there a few days
before and wanted to give the manager money or something. The funny thing
is, that motel has been gone for nearly forty years. They tore down the
motel back in the late sixties or early seventies. Sure is funny how
people still want to find it."
Whenever you read this, Merry Christmas
to you and all those you hold dear.
Luke 2:1-52 (NIV) In those days
Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the
entire Roman world.  (This was the first census that took place while
Quirinius was governor of
.)  And everyone went to his own town to register.  So Joseph also
went up from the town of
in Galilee to Judea, to
the town of
, because he belonged to the house and line of David.  He went there to
register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting
a child.  While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born,
 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths
and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping
watch over their flocks at night.  An angel of the Lord appeared to
them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were
terrified.  But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I
bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 
Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the
Lord.  This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in
cloths and lying in a manger."  Suddenly a great company of the
heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 
"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his
favor rests."  When the angels had left them and gone into
heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and
see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."
 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was
lying in the manger.  When they had seen him, they spread the word
concerning what had been told them about this child,  and all who
heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.  But Mary
treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.  The
shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they
had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.  On the
eighth day, when it was time to circumcise him, he was named Jesus, the
name the angel had given him before he had been conceived.  When the
time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been
completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the
Lord  (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, "Every firstborn
male is to be consecrated to the Lord"),  and to offer a
sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: "a
pair of doves or two young pigeons."  Now there was a man in
Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for
the consolation of Israel , and the Holy Spirit was upon him.  It had
been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he
had seen the Lord's Christ.  Moved by the Spirit, he went into the
temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him
what the custom of the Law required,  Simeon took him in his arms and
praised God, saying:  "Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you
now dismiss your servant in peace.  For my eyes have seen your
salvation,  which you have prepared in the sight of all people,  a
light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel
."  The child's father and mother marveled at what was said about
him.  Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother:
"This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in
Israel , and to be a sign that will be spoken against,  so that the
thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own
soul too."  There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of
Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her
husband seven years after her marriage,  and then was a widow until
she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and
day, fasting and praying.  Coming up to them at that very moment, she
gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking
forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.  When Joseph and Mary had done
everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to
their own town of Nazareth.  And the child grew and became strong; he
was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him.  Every year
his parents went to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover.  When he
was twelve years old, they went up to the Feast, according to the custom.
 After the Feast was over, while his parents were returning home, the
boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem , but they were unaware of it. 
Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they
began looking for him among their relatives and friends.  When they
did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him.  After
three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the
teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.  Everyone who
heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers.  When his
parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, "Son,
why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously
searching for you."  "Why were you searching for me?"
he asked. "Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house?"
 But they did not understand what he was saying to them.  Then he
went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother
treasured all these things in her heart.  And Jesus grew in wisdom and
stature, and in favor with God and men. (NIV)
was fiction and appeared in December, 2009, in the Virtual Church
web site at http://www.findthepower.com