(c) Copyright 2000 Rev. Bill Versteeg

Do any of you have a pet? (Get listing)

I don't know how well you remember the stories I have read for the past four Christmas Eves - Maybe some of you remember some of the main people in the stories - Tim (he is the one who had the snowmobile accident), Sarah (She is the one who fell through the ice), Mom and Dad - in the last two years we heard about the new baby - Ronald (just like in Ronald Macdonald) who last Christmas was getting his teeth and wanted to chew on absolutely everything. I mentioned last year that Tim, Sarah and Ronald also had a pet - a dog they named Shredder - because while he was young, he shredded every stuffed toy he could get his mouth onto.  Mom never liked the name - so together they started calling her Teddy instead.

This time though, I want to tell you about a different pet - a pet that Sarah came upon quite by accident.

Sarah lived by the open fields on the North side of Lake Ontario. She loved having her window open at night during the late summer and early fall because there were crickets outside. Small brown little grasshoppers that sang when the sun went down. Tweet tweet is the sound that one Cricket made. But there were thousands of crickets outside - and every night in late summer and early fall, with their thousands of tweet - tweets, they sang Sarah to sleep. That was true until in early October, the north side of Lake Ontario had three nights of hard frost - where the temperature dropped well below Zero degrees, and Sarah had to close her bedroom window because all she did was shiver under her covers from the draft. When after about a week the weather warmed up again, she opened her window as she went to bed - she noticed something was different - the crickets weren't singing anymore - the night was silent except for the occasional howling of a distant coyote to which Shredder would always respond "Ooooooowel."

Otherwise - the night was silent - except for one excited "Tweet - tweet." (Repeat 3X) It sounded really close - and it didn't come from her open bedroom window. It seemed to come from right inside her bedroom. Quickly Sarah ran to the light switch and turned on her bedroom light - and there in the corner of her room was a tiny brown cricket about ½ inch long (show).  It sat silently wondering why the (sun)light had suddenly turned on. Sarah ran toward it, hoping to catch it in her hands - but it hopped once and then again, and then it scurried and skedaddled underneath the baseboard that covered the rug at the edge of her room. And no matter how hard Sarah looked that evening - she could not find the cricket again. Finally after she had looked and looked and was to tired to keep on looking, and besides Mom had already called down the hallway two time to remind her to get to bed - Sarah knelt beside her bed - prayed that God would take care of the cricket - and then with disappointment in her heart, she turned off the light and went to bed.

She was almost asleep when it came - "Tweet - Tweet." And a few seconds later again "Tweet - Tweet." And again and again and again - but she was too tired to look, that night she fell asleep to the sweet "Tweet - Tweet" music of her new little friend who she dreamt about that night - in her dream this little cricket had a name - Christopher Cricket.

The next morning she got up early - her room was silent, she turned on the light and looked under every nook and cranny but she couldn't find Christopher. He was nowhere to be found. But that night, and every night after that for a long time - a few minutes after Sarah turned out her light - Christopher would start singing again - rubbing his little wings together as crickets do to make their cheerful little "Tweet - Tweet" sound. Sometimes Sarah would turn her light off early so that Christopher would start singing - and she would listen very carefully for where the "Tweet - Tweet" was coming from.  Then she would suddenly turn on the light and run to the corner where the sound was coming from - but Christopher remained hidden under the baseboard. Sarah could not find him.

Sometimes Sarah enjoyed Christopher's singing so much that she would join him in his tweeting. She went to the library to find out more information about crickets - and she discovered that they were related to the roach family of animals. But that didn't matter to her - his singing was so beautiful. She would wonder what it must be like to be a Cricket - with six legs, long feelers on her nose that he could fold back, hoping between blades of grass hundreds of times taller than the cricket. And then she would think of Christopher again, now already weeks under the baseboard, and he didn't seem to come out. Maybe a crickets life was not so good after all. Can you imagine, being stuck under a baseboard for weeks?

Night after night, Christopher Cricket would sing Sarah to sleep. But as the nights became weeks, and the weeks turned into the month of December - Sarah noticed that Christopher did not sing as much. Oh, she fed him, little pieces of lettuce, onion tops, she gave him water in a little jar lid with cotton batton in it so that he could not drown in the water. But even though he had food and water - as December came - Christopher sang less and less. A week before Christmas - instead of his regular Tweet Tweet (6X), just a couple of times he went "tweet, tweet" (weakly). Sarah wondered what was wrong with him. He sounded tired and lonely. Sarah tried to encourage him with more food, fresh food every day, fresh water every day, but slowly, Christopher sang less and less. On Christmas eve, even though Sarah was excited about Christmas, and the tree and the decorations, her heart was also a little sad - because she was worried about Christopher. She tried to encourage him - she even sang him a few Christmas carols. She would raise her voice just like she did to her dog and it made her dog happy - why not the cricket. She tried imitating that sound of the cricket - maybe then the cricket would not be so lonely. But no matter what she did, on Christmas Eve, Christopher did not sing.

Christmas Eve, as she knelt beside her bed to say her prayers, Sarah wished that she could just talk to Christopher in his language, help him in any way she could, at least encourage him with her words. But she also knew that was impossible because to do that she would have to become a cricket, half an inch long and go and talk to him as a cricket - it couldn't be done. She couldn't do it. As Sarah closed her eyes that night, she thought she heard Christopher give a very weak "tweet tweet" trying to sing her to sleep a goodbye lullaby.  As she closed her eyes tears rolled down her cheeks. She was so much stronger than the cricket. She knew so much more. She could provide for all of her cricket's needs. But she could not talk to Christopher in a way that Christopher would understand. And she could not understand what Christopher was trying to say so that she could really help him. There was nothing she could do to help him. Some things are just impossible.

Christmas morning she went to church with her family - she got to sit in church with her Mom and Dad, Tim and Ronald and the pastor was talking about the miracle of Christmas. The pastor first told them about billions of people who lived on this tiny planet flying around a small star in a big big universe. And these people on this world were weak, in some ways helpless, not only that - they were all dying. The pastor also told them about God - a God who was all powerful - so much more powerful than those tiny people, so powerful he made the whole universe. When God heard those tiny people crying out for help, he loved them and he wanted to help them. He tried telling them how much he loved them and how he wanted to save them - but for all of his attempts, these little people seemed to have difficulty understanding God - God was to big and to strong. But God's love was also very big and strong - and so that these little people could actually see how much God loved them, so that they could actually hear and understand him speak, and so that they could be saved, God out of love sent his own son - to become a human little baby born in Bethlehem. When that baby grew up - he spoke to us what his father in heaven told him to speak - he spoke to us about how we, as weak and helpless as we often are, can call out to him at any time - and God will hear us.  By believing in his Son Jesus who died on the cross in our place, we are saved so that our lives don't end here on this little tiny planet, rather after we die we will go to heaven.

What Sarah could not do for Christopher the Cricket - God did for us little people in this incredible big universe. He became like us so that he could talk to us and show us his love and save us.

This Christmas Eve - between all the hustle and bustle of gifts, etc., I want you to remember Christopher - all alone - to Sarah, Christopher sang his last song on Christmas morning - for Sarah it was sad. But for her Christmas was also a happy day - because she knew she was not alone in this world, and she knew her cries for help were heard, and God had answered in Jesus Christ. Remember, when you are alone in life - and you need help - call out to God - God will answer - he has answered you - he became like us just so that he could talk with us, just so that we could see how rich his love for us really is.

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The Theme of this story is based on 1 John  4:7-10 NIV

Dear friends, let us love one another for love comes from god Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows god. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world theat we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

No one has ever seen god, but god the One and Only, who is at the Father's side,. Has made him known.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright (C) 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

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