It was the night before Christmas, the one night in the year when 7-year-old Bobby went to bed without being told. But going to sleep was not easy. He was thinking about Christmas morning and all the presents under the tree.
It seemed he had barely fallen asleep when a voice shouted, “Get up!” He sat up and opened his eyes. Suddenly he remembered what day it was. With a shout he hurried into his clothes and bounded down the stairs.
On the bottom step he stopped. The house was strangely silent. The Christmas tree was gone and no stocking hung from the mantel. “But I hung up my stocking and I helped decorate the tree,” he thought to himself.
Bobby went to the door. Cars were whizzing by, people on their way to work as usual. “People don’t work on Christmas,” he thought. But looking down the street he saw that all the stores were open.
“Why are the stores open on Christmas?” he asked a woman nearby. “Christmas?” she asked, staring at him blankly, “What’s Christmas?” Everywhere it was the same. People were busy. They had never heard of Christmas.
“I know one place where they have heard of Christmas!” Bobby cried, “at my church! There’s a special service this morning!” He ran toward the church. This was the right street; at least he thought it was. But the beautiful church with the tall spire was not there, only a vacant lot grown up in weeds.
Just then he heard a groan from the side of the road where a man was lying. A car that hadn’t even stopped had struck him. Bobby began calling for help, but no one came. “I’ll run to he hospital,” he promised, “and they’ll send an ambulance!” But there was no hospital on the corner where he remembered it. Instead there was a large billboard with these words: IF HE HAD NOT COME.
Suddenly Bobby was running home. The family Bible—that was the answer. He picked it up to turn to the Gospel of Luke, but there was no New Testament. Only blank pages. No Christmas story. No Jesus at all. Bobby fell over on the divan and began to cry.
“Bobby, wake up! It’s Christmas morning!” His mother was calling. He rushed to the window and looked out. Decorations were everywhere and in the distance church bells were pealing out, Joy to the world! The Lord is come!
Bobby called, “I’m coming!” Then he paused, his heart running over with gratitude and joy, “You did come!” he whispered, “Oh, I’m so glad you came!” Rev. Clyde Nichols is Minister Emeritus of First Christian Church in Temple where he served as senior minister for 23 years before retiring. He writes a religious column for several Central Texas newspapers and will soon have a book of his writings published.