Peace on Earth, friends

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I keep my Christmas tree up all year in memory of my family since it was our favorite holiday.

We’d spend Christmas Eve watching classic movies.

On Christmas morning, the aroma of fresh-cooked bacon and scrambled eggs always filled my parents’ house.

After the dishes were cleaned and put away, we’d gather in the living room to exchange gifts and share a few laughs.

All of that is gone now.

I have plenty of memories stored away and every once in a blue moon I’ll play them through my head. Sometimes I’ll stop at a particular moment. Other times I’ll distract myself when my emotions become involved.

When Christmas rolls around, I think back to my childhood days when I attended Pinetops Baptist Church. Our pastor, the late Billy Webb, always enjoyed the holiday season and couldn’t wait for our annual Christmas pageant we traditionally held the Sunday before Christmas Eve.

We always did a nativity scene.

One year I played one of the three wise men.

Another year I played Joseph.

Another time I was the inn keeper, which I didn’t care for too much.

Mr. Billy, as we children loved to call him, never missed a rehearsal. He’d either offer advice, help with the costumes back stage or just sit quietly in the first pew and listen to us sing.

It seemed like some of us shouted at times.

Regardless, Mr. Billy always applauded and hugged each of us. He reminded us that we were God’s children and would always be loved no matter what kind of challenges life threw at us.

I wish I knew then what I know now.

Then again, maybe I don’t.

Anyway, I remember the first line of Jesus’ birth like it was yesterday:

“And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all world should be taxed. All went to be taxed, every one into his own city.”

About this time, we’d step onto the stage and take our places.

“And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem.

“To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

“And she brought forth her first-born son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger because there was no room for them at the inn. There were shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.”

The angel of the Lord appears and though His glory shone around them, they were still afraid. The angel said to have no fear because it brought good tidings of great joy.

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace, good will toward men.”

Merry Christmas, friends.

Rudy Coggins is assistant editor of the Mount Olive Tribune. He can be reached at rcoggins@mountolivetribune.com.

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