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Pastor Steve trudged down Holly Street, his clunky shoes leaving deep furrows in the freshly fallen snow. Beside him he dragged a large, red felt bag holding the many different Santa Claus costumes worn yesterday. Strings of Christmas lights flickered from lamp posts and cast a multi-colored pathway guiding him homeward while a frigid wind whipped past his ears and pelted icy flakes into his cheeks. Like his boot-laden feet, Pastor Steve’s heart carried a heaviness that slowed his stride and stole his Yuletide cheer. For the first time for as long as he could remember, his parish had no Christmas spirit.
They all knew Christmas wasn’t about the Santa Clauses they played at the children’s party on the Saturday afternoon before Christmas each year. They all knew Christmas wasn’t about the number of presents under their trees. And, they knew too that Christmas wasn’t about the beautiful decorations. Christmas, they knew, was about the birth of the Christ child. But Jesus wasn’t in their church anymore. After the children’s Christmas party, someone had stolen baby Jesus. Now Mary, Joseph, the Wise Men, and the shepherds stared into an empty manager. And Christmas just isn’t Christmas when you take away Jesus. That they knew.