Christmas Day is fast approaching - the official birthday celebrations of Jesus of Nazareth - born to be King, born to die, born to give us new life, born that we might be adopted into the family of God. What does Christmas mean to you?
For today's post, I thought I'd share a story I wrote for the Faithwriters challenge. It's not a Christmas story—or maybe it is.
Joe sank into the plump leather armchair and flicked the foot rest up. He cradled his slug of aged brandy. The ice cubes chimed against the frosty glass and a contented sigh escaped his lips. The den was his well-earned refuge after a frenetic day at the office. His wife, Simone, knew better than to disturb him until after his half-hour of news. He reached forward, picked up the remote and flicked on the TV.
Several minutes later he jerked awake, his heart pounding. An ad for a slick red sports car flashed across the wide-screen on the wall, crowded with dancing long-legged models and a smirking windswept hero. He frowned. Surely it wasn't the cliched classical music blaring from the surround sound speakers that had disturbed him. His eyes narrowed as a deep beat seemed to vibrate the floorboards beneath the plush carpet. Throaty 90s lyrics drowned out the now dulcet tones of the weather presenter.
His neighbour; it had to be.
He stormed out of the den, ignoring the inquiring look from Simone juggling steaming saucepans in the kitchen and the twins excited calls of “Daddy, daddy.’ Stalking through the living room, he slid open the glass doors and stood on the deck, arms akimbo. Beyond the outdoor entertaining area and gleaming water of their pool, on the other side of the high fence, Matt Dodger’s yard was lit up like a Christmas tree. Swaying coloured lights zigzagged across the untidy backyard. Matt stood at the barbie turning sizzling sausages and hamburger patties. A boom box belted out popular tunes. Tammy in white bikini and skimpy sarong wrapped around her ample figure plunked down food on a trestle table—large bowls of salad, bread rolls, heaped up plates of watermelon and two oversized pavlovas drowned in cream and fruit. A huge battered blue icebox overflowed with crushed ice and cans.
This had been a quiet neighbourhood until the Dodgers had moved in last year. Rumour had it that that Matt was a cars salesman and Tammy ran a beauty parlour in their downstairs room. When they had first arrived, Simone had dropped in with home baked cookies and a brochure for their church, but Matt had made cutting remarks about hypocritical Christians and churches only interested in his money. It was a lost cause really.
Simone came to stand behind him. “I've put the twins to bed. I hope they settle with this noise.”
Joe nodded and continued to glare into his neighbours’ back yard. The sounds of cars pulling up at the curb and the excited calls of guests intermingled with the jocular greetings of Matt and Tammy. The kids ran around with the new arrivals in some wild game, adding to the general cacophony. Soon adults and children alike piled food on their plates and pulled open cans of drink. Knives, forks and table manners seemed the only scarcity. Laughter and rowdy music spilled out into the night.
Joe snorted. It was disgusting how some people stuffed their faces with so little self-restraint.
Simone’s sigh was like a feather on his cheek. “Will you come and say good night to your girls?”
Joe stiffened as a tall bearded figure strolled down the concrete pathway to be engulfed in a bear hug from Matt.
“Isn't that the new pastor up at New Kingdom? What’s his name? John, no…Joshua Davidson. Reverend Kaifas says he’s attracted huge crowds with his high-powered trickery. He’s worse than that fire and brimstone preacher they used to have at the Jordan chapel.”
Davidson accepted a glass of punch from Matt. ‘Hey, kids,’ he roared, ‘Who wants a treat?’ He handed out candy canes and white Christmas. The children mobbed him and soon he was settled in an old garden chair, both children and adults listening to his flamboyant storytelling.
Joe allowed Simone to pull him inside. After kissing the sleepy twins good night, they sat down for dinner.
As the sounds of the party next door wound down, Joe and Simone moved out on the deck with mugs of pod coffee. The last guest called out a boisterous goodbye and the neighbours’ backyard plunged into darkness, except for a neon star over a battered nativity scene.
Joe savoured the rich brewed flavour. “I wonder what Pastor Davidson wanted with Matt.” He chuckled. “If he expected a donation, he’s in for a disappointment, but who would have thought that New Kingdom’s pastor would mix with that bunch of losers.”
When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. Titus 3:4-5a (NLT)
New Living Translation (NLT)
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
two novellas and her debut novel, Akrad's Children. Find her on Facebook or at her webpages Jeanette O'Hagan Writes or Jenny's Thread.