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The Holidays are Here?!?

I’m facing major surgery on December 4th. That’s just three days short of the anniversary of the infamous attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. Whenever this time of year approaches, I jump into full Christmas mode beginning on November 1. But, this year will be different. Christmas celebration for us will be dialed back a bit.

So, I have already put up our “Homecoming Tree”. It is not yet decorated and sits in our living room waiting for its mantle of shiny decorations. This year, Sherry has decided to dig out all of our vintage Precious Moments decorations. Some of these date back 40 years! Decorating the tree will be quite nostalgic!

I guess it is fitting that this is the year I release my novelization of “The Homecoming Tree”, a play I wrote and directed at Brookwood Baptist Church in 2005. In looking back through my photographs of that play, I found one of my father. Sean, my son, took those photos on black and white film and when we developed them, yes, developed them — not digital, the developing process left artifacts on the photographs. These artifacts resembled what you would see on a genuine old film. Here is the photograph of my father as he is looking up at the set for the play.

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One Solitary Life . . .

This past week, I had the unprecedented opportunity to once again enjoy Walt Disney World’s Candlelight Processional. In the mid-90’s I had the privilege of meeting Derick Johnson, the man who created the Voices of Liberty and was known as Disney’s “show formula” creator. He composed all of the music used in EPCOT’s annual Candlelight Processional. Mr. Johnson is a devout Christian and he viewed the Candlelight Processional as an opportunity to tell the story of our Savior to millions of visitors to Walt Disney World. The Candlelight Processional has been performed for almost twenty years three times a night between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day and always features a guest celebrity narrator. I have seen many celebrities over the years: Brian Dehenny, Cindy Williams, Joe Montagna, Jim Caveizel, and many others. Twice I’ve watched Marlee Matlin sign language the entire Christmas story and it was amazingly powerful. But, this year, Edward James Olmos blew them all away. I’ve watched this man as Admiral Adama on the new Battlestar Galactica and remember him from Blade Runner and Miami Vice. He opened the performance with a thank you to the Disney family for continuing the tradition of the Candlelight Processional and then dedicated the night’s performance to the men and women of our armed forces.

If you have never seen this performance, you simply must plan a trip to Disney World during the holidays, make a dinner reservation at one of the EPCOT restaurants with the Candlelight Processional and get a reserved seat. I will warn you. People wait two to three hours in the stand by line for a performance (it is free) and it is worth it. It is powerful. Worshipful. Praiseworthy. Now, I may violate copyright laws. This video below may be pulled. I hope not. Here is the pivotal moment in the performance when Edward James Olmos reads one of my favorite poems, “One Solitary Life” after reading the entire Christmas story throughout the musical presentation. Watch as he is so visibly moved by the story of the life of our Savior. Below the video, check out the text of “One Solitary Life” and reflect on the impact Jesus had on all of human history. Think, for just a second, what impact He can have on YOUR life in this Christmas season. For, we all have but one solitary life on this Earth and it is what we do with the life that counts in the eyes of God!

One Solitary Life

By Dr. James Allan Francis

Here is a man who was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another village.

He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty.

Then for three years He was an itinerant preacher.

He never owned a home.

He never wrote a book.

He never held an office.

He never had a family.

He never went to college.

He never put His foot inside a big city.

He never traveled two hundred miles from the place He was born.

He never did one of the things that usually accompany greatness.

He had no credentials but Himself…

While still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against him. His friends ran away. One of them denied Him. He was turned over to His enemies. He went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed upon a cross between two thieves.

While He was dying His executioners gambled for the only piece of property He had on earth – His coat. When He was dead, He was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.

Nineteen long centuries have come and gone, and today He is a centerpiece of the human race and leader of the column of progress.

I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, all the navies that were ever built; all the parliaments that ever sat and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as has that one solitary life.

This essay was adapted from a sermon by Dr James Allan Francis in “The Real Jesus and Other Sermons” © 1926 by the Judson Press of Philadelphia (pp 123-124 titled “Arise Sir Knight!”).

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