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December 24, 2006

Christmas Eve 2006

Tom McLaughlin

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

My first Christmas away from home was in Malacca during my stint as a Peace Corps Volunteer. We prayed in St. Paulís Church, built in 1566, and held the remains of St. Francis Xavier.

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

While living in Jeddah, the Saudi Arabian government would not allow us to visit Israel. If we had an Israeli stamp in our passport, we would be thrown out immediately. We got around it by having the border officials stamp a piece of paper that we threw away later.

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

My daughter Maryís first Christmas was in Ocean City at Mom and Dadís beach townhouse. I am living there now taking care of Dad. I realize it might be his last.

And she brought her first born son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

I remember the births of both my children and I associate these miracles with Christmas. They were both born very close to December 25.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field at night keeping watch over their flock by night.

As a teacher, I loved Christmas in school. Excited faces, gifts from the children; most I still have. Was I a shepherd and they a flock?

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them: and they were sore afraid.

Mom passed last December 22. And, I was sore afraid. I know it was an angel of the Lord holding my hand as I held momís.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, shall be to all people.

Living in the Arab world for 10 years, I wish the tidings of great joy would come unto them. Because, you see, they donít have forgiveness, which is the basis of Christianity and reason for the birth of this child.

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 towards men.

And to you.



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