Christmas Story from a Hutterite Colony
The serious countdown until Christmas is on. It is always hard for pastors and columnists to find or write new material for big special days as they roll around. But there are stories that grab us and stop us in our tracks to say, yes, yes, this is what Christmas is truly about.
But when he said his line, he simply could never get it right.
The first story comes from a present-day Hutterite colony. Yes, people still live in communities where they share possessions based on the practice of the early Christians in Acts 2: “All those who had believed were together and had all things in common.”
Linda Maendel is a teacher, writer, and blogger (yes, they use electricity and go online) who lives in a colony on the plains of Manitoba, Canada. Earlier this year, Herald Press published her book, Hutterite Diaries: Wisdom from My Prairie Community. Excerpt used by permission.
God Whispered in My Ear
by Linda Maendel
We started Christmas concert practice in late November, and everybody was working diligently to learn their pieces. One grade-three boy in particular needed extra help with one word. In our German recitation of “The Four Candles,” Jonathan had a line from Romans 15:13 (KJV): “Gott aber der Hoffnung erfülle euch mit aller Freude und Frieden im Glauben” (“Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing”).
Jonathan struggled with articulation on a daily basis, and he simply could not remember the word Freude (joy). Instead, he always said Freunde (friends), which is understandable since the words are so similar. While God does indeed give us Freunde, we told him, in this verse it just wouldn’t make sense. Jonathan had no problem saying Freude in isolation, but when he said his line, he simply could never get it right.
Teachers, parents, siblings, and fellow students tried to help him, but alas, nothing worked. On our last day of practice, I resigned myself to the fact that he would never get it. I just hoped the audience would be able to figure out the meaning of what he was saying.
On the night of our program, Jonathan was looking sharp, dressed in his Sunday best: pale green shirt and black pants. Standing on stage with the other students, he was beaming, as if he had not a care in the world. I was sitting in the front row of the audience in case the students needed prompts. I kept telling myself not to worry about Jonathan’s almost certain mix-up. His was the last line of the piece, and everybody else had done their parts well.
While I was still wondering whether it would help him if I mouthed the word, Jonathan eagerly started his verse. All of us who had worked with him held our breaths . . . and then sighed with relief when he said the word perfectly. His bright smile said it all; he was happier about this accomplishment than any of us!
Later, when we were reflecting on our Christmas program, Freude took on a whole new meaning for Jonathan and for all of us. Jonathan told us how happy he was that he was finally able to say his piece flawlessly. When asked how he did it, he simply replied, “I asked God to whisper it in my ear, and he did.” I was reminded of God’s promise in Matthew 7:7: “Ask, and it will be given to you.” (Hutterite Diaries, 75–76)
This makes me recall how nerve-wracking those Christmas programs can be, for both children and parents! And yes, I guess for teachers too.
Join me each week for the rest of December for memorable and moving Christmas stories from a variety of sources.
As a Christmas remembrance, we’d love to send you a pocket planner calendar from Another Way for 2016. Just write to MelodieD@MennoMedia.org or Another Way, 1251 Virginia Ave., Harrisonburg, VA 22802.