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Summary: Everything has a crack in it, Christ comes to make all things new.

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Christmas Eve

Edna Hong’s book, Bright Valley of Love, is the true story of a physically challenged child who found a haven of love. Gunther was born near the end of World War I. His father was away at war. His mother would not care for him because he was deformed suffering from a severe case of Rickets. His grandmother, who begrudgingly took him in, hated him and was embarrassed by his deformity. She kept him locked up, out of sight and away from people. No one talked to him. No one answered his cries. They merely changed him and fed him when it was convenient. At age six he couldn’t talk and his deformity, which increased in severity due to lack of sunshine and milk, prevented him from walking.

His father met and married a new wife. When she refused to have anything to do with Gunther, the grandmother insisted he be institutionalized. They left him at Bethel, a Christian home for epileptics as well as physically and mentally challenged youth.

With the loving care of the staff and with the help of an epileptic roommate, named Kurt, Gunther began to learn how to talk and thus began to learn about life. It was Kurt who told Gunther about Christmas. The story of Jesus’ birth and the love of God filled Gunther with joy. But there was something else that filled him with fear - little Kurt was getting worse. In fact, he told Gunther one night that he would soon be going to his heavenly home, maybe as early as Christmas time.

On the first Sunday of Advent, when Pastor Fritz began their Advent service, the joy and excitement of the day wiped out his fear. When the moment came for the Advent candle to be lit, little Kurt was chosen to do the honors. The children watched expectantly as Kurt took the small lighted candle and leaned toward the unlighted candle of the Advent wreath. But suddenly, the burning candle dropped. A moan burst from Kurt’s lips and his body writhed in spasm after spasm of an epileptic seizure. One of the nurses quickly took him in her arms and left the room. Pastor Fritz rescued the cracked, but still burning candle and lit the wreath, singing as he did so. The staff and children joined in until a shrill cry emerged from the heart of Gunther’s fear. The song stopped and Gunther screamed, “There’s a crack in everything.”

Every face in the room turned and looked at Gunther, but Gunther looked only at one face, the face of Pastor Fritz. Once again he flung his wild desperate complaint against that face saying, “There is a crack in everything!” And then he added, “What is so great about Christmas?”

The silence of the room ached with Gunther’s pain. Finally, Pastor Fritz turned from Gunther and appealed to the children saying, “Gunther needs to know what is so great about Christmas. Will you help me tell him please?”

Manford, a child with a mind for mathematics said, “Christmas comes in December. December is the 12th Month. Christmas comes on the 25th day. The 25th day of the 12 month.” “So it does,” said Pastor Fritz. “Thank you, Manford.”

Monika jumped to her feet, beamed at Pastor Fritz and spoke the only words in her vocabulary, “Alleluia, Oh Susanna!” And then she sat down.


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