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Conversion of pastor Henry P. Repose: a surprisingly divine revelation in the midst of Christmas commercialization.

The season of great expectations. He absolutely hated it. About the same time the Halloween decorations came down, everything began to come up Christmas in the mall. First, a few plastic evergreens with wax sugar plums dangling beneath, then a silver bell or two, followed by the ridiculous image of the fat, bearded guy in red. By the middle of November, there was a full-blown commercial assault. All the stores were out to save themselves on the back of the celebration of the birth of a Saviour. Every customer was hell-bent on getting the last great sale. He hated the commercial desecration of Christmas with a passion.

Pastor P. Henry Repose wasn't going to take it lying down this year. That's why, on Christmas Eve, when he would have preferred being behind the holy reflection of his church's stained glass window, he dressed in his best black clerical suit, stuffed a wooden apple box under his arm and headed for the mall.

He strode through the double swinging doors, pausing to look down his nose with holy indignation at the clerks and shoppers frantically going about the last of their infernal commercial dance of Christmas. He stomped past them to the centre of the food court and planted the apple box upside-down in the middle of the milling crowds. To the strains of Bing Crosby crooning "White Christmas," he took out a black King James Bible, large enough to choke an elephant, and began to read the Christmas story in his loudest, bellowing preacher's voice. After reading the Bible, his plan was to let them have it with the fieriest sermon any preacher ever released in public.

And, so, there he stood, with a holier-than-thou expression on his face -- the kind only preachers can muster. The crowds stopped what they were doing to hear what Pastor Henry P. Repose was up to. Henry P. took full advantage of the lull in their blitz on his Christmas and read with great effect. He told the old, old story: about a dirty, dusty donkey ride from Galilee to Bethlehem; about a confused and distraught father running around trying to care for his young wife in the desperate pains of childbirth; about milling crowds locked in trade and barter in the streets of Bethlehem; about a commercial blitz that rendered all the rooms fully occupied and people competing to buy the last bed in town; about stables, smelly animals, shepherds and rich Wise Men jostling to see.

As Henry P. read the part describing the birth of Jesus amidst all of this, somewhere, a child cried. Henry P's face lost all composure and turned pale. He slithered down off the apple box, the notes for his fiery sermon falling to the floor of the mall. Right there, in the midst of that unholy place, Pastor Henry P. Repose had a Christmas epiphany: the birth of God into the midst of humanity, unholiness, commercialization and worldliness. And Henry P. wept as he finally understood that God loved him so.

David Webber is a minister of the Cariboo Presbyterian Church, a house church ministry in the Cariboo district of British Columbia.
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Author:Webber, David
Publication:Presbyterian Record
Date:Dec 1, 1998
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