The Church looked bright with all the decorations of Christmas. The Nativity scene stood glowing on its front lawn. Everything was covered with a fresh crisp snow. The soft sounds of Christmas carols came through the front entrance.
The church choir was practicing for the Christmas night service. A decorated Christmas tree stood beside the entrance door, almost as if to beg those walking by to enter in welcome. Just inside the door was the food hamper for the local shelter.
In the manger scene they had even used fresh straw to add authenticity. A soft backdrop light shining everything up from behind the scene. Yes, Jesus was homeless the day when he was born in the stable as was the man that stood huddled under four layers of old ragged clothes.
He wanted very much to enter the church to listen to the choir and get warm, but he dared not; he had entered once before and been told that his kind wasn't wanted there. Not that he was a religious man, but he believed as much in God as most people do.His luck would soon run out for the night was turning very cold.
He didn't know where he could go; the local shelter was full, just like the Inns of Bethlehem back in the days of Jesus, so he looked at the manger and wondered if he could manage. He would leave footprints in the snow and they might chase him away.
He didn't have many options left; the backlight offered some warmth, and the straw some comfort against the cold night air. As he made his decision to use the nativity as a shelter, he carefully tried to walk without leaving too much of a mark.
A soft gentle snow began to fall; it was as if God was saying, "I will hide your footprints so that you might rest this night." He slowly lowered himself into a spot that offered the best hiding, spreading some straw to lie down upon and more to cover himself.
The next day was Christmas; as the parishioners gathered for the service, the children ran around the manger merrily giggling and laughing, no one noticed the extra hump under the fresh fallen snow. It could have been one of the plastic sheep laid beside the manager.
It wasn't until Boxing Day when they carefully started to take down the nativity, so careful as not to damage the plastic figures of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, the Shepherds and Wise Men, the animals and the structure, they finally found him, but only when they moved the straw.
A ragged homeless bum, frozen stiff in their holy manger. They were disguised with the scene, and immediately called police. As the police arrived and inspected the scene, one of them commented, "He looks like he's finally at peace; he has a big smile on his face."
Suddenly, the clouds dissipated, and the bright sun broke through, shining its bright rays down upon the body of the homeless man. The streams of brilliant light reaching down as if to guide the angels of heaven that were being sent down to retrieve a lost soul, to bring him finally home.
December 23, 2004
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