Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News
Walter Albritton -
The night the carolers brought gifts and baskets of food
Few things excite a preacher more than finding a good story that can “make” a sermon. I have often built a sermon around an inspiring story. Good stories, like “a spoonful of sugar,” help the sermon medicine go down.
Such a story
came to me this week from my friend Ronald Smith. Ron’s common name reminds me of
the question asked by Nathanael in
John’s Gospel, "Can any good thing come out of
In his own words, I will let Ron tell about the story of the uncommon Christmas shared by his family in 1965:
“I was playing baseball in my side yard the day my 34-year-old father was brought home from work. He looked as pale as a ghost. From home, Dad was rushed to the hospital. That day, as a 10-year-old, I nearly lost my father. He had a massive heart attack.
young mother faced the crisis of her life in our small industrial town of
attack left Dad disabled. My family moved from
“At that time
no one in my family professed a personal faith in Christ – we were not
Christians. My family had respect for Christians and churches, but we had not
yet experienced Christ personally. Christmas that year found my mother and
father, now disabled from work, in a tiny rented bungalow in eastern
“Since Dad was off work we spent some ‘awesome’ family time together leading up to that Christmas. I am sure Mom and Dad saw life ‘as through a mirror dimly,’ but for the children’s part, our joy grew to have so much time with Daddy face to face.
“As a family we decorated our tiny new home, making it ready for the holidays. I can still close my eyes and see our Christmas tree in the living room on that Christmas Eve. I still remember the outfit my beautiful baby sister was wearing. I remember the knock on our door that Christmas Eve – it was an unexpected knock. As my father opened the door, a Christmas carol broke the silence on that cold wintry night. The people outside were singing, “Joy to the world, the Lord is come.”
carolers from the little country
“The carolers were right, the Lord had come. To this day I cannot fully explain why I believe this, but I sincerely believe as a result of that event my family was never the same. Something significant was added to our lives. Through a knock on the door, a carol and gifts of love carried in the hearts of a few country Methodists, love came down at Christmas.
decade every member of my family accepted Christ and became actively involved
“The God, who
in the spirit of Christmas sends plain country folk from little churches like
“I still cannot explain the depths of the mystery of Christ’s love. I only know that for a young, lost family ‘cursed’ with a near fatal heart attack living in a financial bind in a strange location in eastern Ohio, the entry of grace made love come down at Christmas.
“There is no way to measure the value of a Christmas carol sung in the night, a food basket, a good work, ‘cups of water’ given in the name of Christ. But I can assure you of this, 40 Christmases later, in the heart of a seminary president and a family named Smith, the song is still alive.”
Today Ron is
president of Wesley Biblical Seminary in