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Dr. John Bressler Christmas belongs to whole world
Rev. John Bressler--1st Pres
Dr. John Bressler
    Christmas has begun for the Bresslers! I am one of those people who just can't wait until the lights go on every tree and bush in sight, the malls are decorated to the point of insanity and every church turns to page one in the hymnal and the choir and congregation begin belting out, at the top of their voices, favorite carols. I realize that Christmas should not be the highlight of the year as there would be no Christmas without Easter, and yet the little boy in me has to sing and smile and wish the happiest of days to everyone I meet.
    Julie is warming up the charge plates, writing great lists of stuff for the grandchildren and telling me it is time to clean the oven. For the life of me, I will never understand why I have to clean the oven once a year. When our friends stop by for our Christmas party, will they stick their heads in the oven to see if it meets with the health inspector's check list? I think not! One year, I thought I could fool Julie and I sprayed the inside of the oven with Armor All. It looked great and I was doing just fine until she put the meat loaf in and the house began to smell like the inside of a Hummer filled with many teenagers on a long vacation. Julie forgave me after she stuck my head in the oven and slammed the door on it six or seven times. She does get a bit excited, but she is a sweetheart!
    I digress. Last Saturday evening, we had the most wonderful opportunity to experience a Madrigal Feast(e) presented by the GSU Theatre Department and we sat with about a dozen friends and were wined, dined and delighted by extraordinary musicians. The participants wore period costumes, played wonderful instruments, sang beautiful selections and brought tears to our eyes with one of the finest presentations of Amahl and the Night Visitors I have ever heard and seen. Unfortunately, there is not enough space to give all the credits, but those who created, directed, acted, cooked, sang and played were exceptional and left every guest wanting more and knowing they were a part of another special memory making night.
    These kinds of memories are a long time in the process, and memories are to be stored and cherished. My earliest memories come and go, but when something triggers the recall button, I relive them over and over. I hardly ever remember a present from my younger days, but I remember the night when I heard my mother crying because a tree was too expensive and all she had were some old green and blue lights she was trying to string up on a bare wall. Dad called to her, "Mary, come to bed." She replied through her tears, "Soon, Joe. I'll be there soon." My mother didn't remember that night, but she always smiled when I reminded her. I don't even know if I got something from Santa, but I received a gift that is far more precious. I think you understand.
    Perhaps we are becoming too sensitive and tolerant as we are willing to set aside our joy of the season by removing every vestige of Christmas celebration that is public. I understand and I am truly sympathetic with those of other faiths. At the same time, I believe I can allow every religion under the sun to display their beliefs, symbols and positions without negative reaction.
    There is no question that merchandising has found a gold mine in holiday festivals and do play up the emotional and colorful side to the hilt. I try to look past some of the stuff on shelves that are oddly named, "stocking stuffers" and some other stuff that is priced for the likes of Donald Trump. At the same time, when I hear a choir singing "Silent Night," see a live nativity scene or watch the faces of little children who know that there will be a special present just for them, I can endure all the fanfare of business.
    I believe in the soft and warm side of Christmas. I want to read "T'was the Night Before Christmas" and perhaps "The Grinch" tale with grandchildren. And I want to read from Matthew and Luke so we hear why we read and celebrate in the first place. I am anxiously waiting for our tree with tiny lights, special decorations we have gathered over many years, garlands and parties with friends.
    Every Christmas is another year soon gone. Every Christmas is a time of hellos and goodbyes. Every Christmas comes too quickly and departs too rapidly. Every Christmas is another memory to cherish.
    Perhaps this has been a tough and difficult year for you, but you have survived so far because you have that strength and determination to carry on. Perhaps this Christmas will be the moment in time when you understand why. I have always believed that God came to us when we needed Him and He made His presence known in such a way that we cannot forget.
    We call it Christmas. It is only one word, Christmas, and yet it speaks of love, understanding, hope and future. Christmas belongs to the world.
    Merry Christmas.
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