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Previous Message From Virtual Church

The Christmas Bundle

On this Christmas Eve, John and Lisa were both thankful the evening had been one of peace and calm. Lisa's father had passed away the previous summer and they both knew it would be a painful time for them and especially for Lisa's mother. As the snow fell gently outside, their Christmas Eve gathering had gone well with only a few moments of sadness when the family had gathered together at Lisa's mom's house. John loved going to Lisa's mother's, but the two and one-half hour drive home, especially at night, was always long and tiresome. At night there were never any lights or traffic on old State Road 12. Tonight the snow was blowing horizontally to the road and as John drove along he noticed on the car clock it was about midnight. The road's center lines began to blur together in white sameness at least when John could see them through the snow. Christmas music was softly playing on the radio. Lisa was asleep as John drove.

Suddenly the snow stopped and John was startled to see something white in the center of the road up ahead. Who would have put a snowman in the center of the road? No one lived in these parts any more. John slowed down the car and as he applied the brakes Lisa woke up. What John thought he saw was not what he believed he saw. As John drew closer to the white object, what John saw was not a snowman. John could see the white object was a tall man, dressed in white, standing in the middle of the road beside a white utility trailer. The closer John got to the man and the trailer, the bigger the man seemed to get. Not more than twenty feet from the man, John stopped in the middle of the road and rolled down the window. A cold blast of December air hit John in the face and Lisa said, "Who is it?" John stuck his head out the window and the man dressed in white walked up to the car. John was speechless and in shock. The man in white must have been at least eight feet tall. He was a giant. In the man's arms was a bundle of clothing. The man pushed the bundle of clothing through the window into John's chest and said, "Here, deliver this to the address on this envelope. There are papers inside the envelope that must also be delivered. I will attach the trailer to your car." Dumbfounded and fumbling to grasp the bundle, John took the bundle and the man walked quickly to the trailer, pulled the trailer around to the back of John's car, and John and Lisa felt a thud coming from the back of their car. The man in white walked back to John's window. Not knowing what else to say, John said to the man, "I don't have a trailer hitch on my car." The man in white said, "You do now. Deliver the contents of the trailer and the bundle to the address on the envelope. No one will be home. Go inside and decorate the apartment and wait for the man to come home." John felt something move inside the bundle of clothing. John and Lisa looked down at the bundle. When John looked back toward the man in white standing next to John's car, the man was gone. John unwrapped the bundle of clothing and inside was a newborn baby. The whole incident had not taken more than two minutes max. Snow was blowing again and it was coming in the window. John rolled up the window and John and Lisa sat in the car for a while trying to collect their thoughts. Here they were on a dark road in a snowstorm, with a baby a disappearing stranger had given them, with a trailer supposedly hooked to their car using a trailer hitch they didn't have. Lisa said, "What is going on?" John didn't say anything because he could no longer speak. John handed the bundled baby to Lisa and looked at the envelope. The envelope had the word "Yeln" written on it with the address of 691 Center Street, Midville, IN beneath. John got out of the car to see if the man in white was still outside. The man dressed in white was gone. John walked back to the trailer and there was now a trailer hitch on John's car. Connected to the trailer hitch was the tongue of the white utility trailer. The trailer brake wiring appeared to be connected in tact to the brake lights.

John walked back to the car grimacing against the snow and zero wind chill, opened the car door, and crawled in. After he closed the car door, John turned on the dome light and he and Lisa again looked at the baby quietly sleeping in Lisa's arms. Still stunned, John turned off the dome light, put the car in drive, and pulled away. He drove along and he and Lisa said nothing. There was too much to process. Too much had happened too quickly to be able to speak. Lisa cuddled the baby with motherly instinct. What was toughest for both of them is they wanted a child so badly. They had hoped this year would be the year they could celebrate Christmas with a child of their own but it was not to be. A new baby in the family would have made this Christmas a more joyful one for them and for Lisa's mother.

A few miles ahead lay Midville. Midville was now a dreadful place. In the 1940's Midville had been a wonderful and bustling little farm town on a busy state road. In those days, Midville had about 100 homes, a several stores, and two gas stations. However, during the early 1960's, the interstate highway was built taking away traffic, farming had died out, and Midville lost many of its citizens because jobs had moved elsewhere. Now Midville was populated by druggies, motorcycle toughs, and people living on the fringe who had a reason to not want to be known by law enforcement. The stores had all been boarded up. Most of the houses in Midville were boarded up. All the old-time residents had moved away or had died, the school had closed because of dwindling enrollment, and even the churches had closed.

Within a few minutes John was within a mile of the outskirts of Midville. John knew the location on the envelope. It was a part of Midville you did not want to visit during the daytime, let alone at night. Suddenly, John noticed lights ahead as he neared the downtown area. What John and Lisa saw was more unbelievable than being handed a baby by a disappearing stranger. The downtown area was full of stores whose brightly lit windows were decorated for Christmas. And the cars on the street looked like they had come out of an antique car show. The cars were all from the 1940's and 1950's. Midville looked like it did back in the 50's. Being midnight, there were no people around, but the town looked like it had come from a Christmas card with all the lights, decorations, and Christmas trimmings blanketed by the snow.

John pulled the car and trailer up to the address on the envelope. Just as the man in white had said, the place looked dark and deserted. John walked to the front door and knocked on the door but there was no answer. For reasons John could not express, he turned the knob on the unlocked front door and walked in. Not knowing how or why, John found a light switch and turned on the lights. The place was shabby but not dirty. The furniture looked like it could have come out of the 1930's. There was an old black and white television in the corner and a big console radio from the 1930's next to the television. In robotic fashion, John went back to the car, opened Lisa's door, and said, "C'mon, lets do as we were told." John led Lisa to the front door and opened the door for her as she carefully carried the baby. John told Lisa to sit down on the couch and that he would bring in what was in the trailer. John walked back outside and opened the trailer's rear door. The trailer was full of Christmas presents, a real Christmas tree, and boxes of decorations. John began to carry everything inside. As John brought the tree, decorations, and gifts inside, Lisa gently placed the sleeping baby down on the couch and began decorating the living room. Time flew. What should have taken hours of decorating seemed only to take minutes. Presents were placed under the tree and the Christmas tree lights and other decorations were put on the tree and turned on. What also seemed odd was the lights and decorations were so old fashioned but were still new in the box. The tree was a real pine tree and the aroma of the pine filled the room. As John plugged in the lights, they all came on, and the lights on the tree added a golden glow to the room.

There was nothing to do now but fearfully wait for whoever this Yeln person was to come home. John and Lisa sat on the couch with the sleeping baby in Lisa's arms. John opened the unsealed envelop and found adoption papers inside made out to someone he did not know named Frank Yeln. Startled, John noticed the date on the papers was December 24, 1955. As John placed the papers back into the envelope, the sound of the front door opening reached the living room and John and Lisa stood up. A street tough motorcycle gang member dressed in a black motorcycle jacket, with greasy hair slicked back into a ducktail, with chains on his jacket, walked in. The guy looked like a 50's motorcycle gang member with hair like Elvis. A girl in her late teens with her hair pulled back in a ponytail followed the motorcycle gang guy into the room. The motorcycle gang member had an expression of hatred and violence on his face. He seemed to burn with hatred. His jaw seemed poised to bite off the head of anyone who came in his path. His eyes burned with fiery anger. There was a moment of dreadful silence as these two couples faced off. Not knowing what to say, John said, "We were told to give you this baby. We were told to bring you these presents and the decorations." Lisa handed the baby to the guy in the motorcycle jacket. The guy with greasy hair in his motorcycle gang member attire instinctively stepped back from the baby, but Lisa stepped forward again and pushed the baby wrapped in blankets into his chest. The motorcycle guy curled his arms upward and took the child.

What John and Lisa witnessed was an event few people get to see in this life. What John and Lisa witnessed was a total meltdown of a human being in heart, soul, and spirit. The motorcycle gang member's posture changed, and his arms and legs began to tremble. As his legs seemed to go out from under him, he stepped back, and with the child in his shaking arms, he gently sat down in an old overstuffed chair. Then he began to fully notice the room was decorated for Christmas. He began to notice the Christmas tree and the presents under the tree. The girl kneeled down next to the man and the baby. The girl gently touched the baby's cheek and the baby made those funny sounds baby's make when they are happy. For reasons unknown, this tough motorcycle gang member held the baby close, and the gang member began to cry. All the motorcycle gang member said was, "I never had a Christmas." John handed the envelop to the girl and took Lisa by the hand and led her out the front door. The trailer, and trailer hitch were gone.

John and Lisa never spoke about this strange event again. The incident was too private, too profound, too awesome, and too unexplainable to be put into words. Twenty years later, on the nineteenth birthday of their son Jason, John found an article in his local newspaper about Midville. The article said the little town had come back to life. Someone named Frank Yeln and Yeln's son were responsible for heading up a drive to bring residents back. The article said Yeln was the father of a boy twenty years of age and had become a one-man activist to clean up the town and turn it back into a place where families could live and raise children. Two stores had re-opened and a new church had been formed.

All names and places in this story are fictional. The life changing gift of love we can give each other and the gift of the Christ-child given to us two thousand years ago is not.

This story appeared December 2002 on Shepherd's Care Ministries web site at http://www.findthepower.com

 

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Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (RSV) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Copyright © 1952 [2nd edition, 1971] by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Shepherd's Care Ministries author and webmaster, Rev. Patrick Kelly, is affiliated through ministerial ordination with Church of God Ministries, Anderson IN 46018