With one finger he tilted her chin up and watched as her lips parted with the hint of a gasp. His crooked smile flashed then faded as his lips got closer and closer to hers. He paused and let their breath kiss… before their lips ever did. The tension between them grew. He felt her going soft in his arms so he put his other arm around her and pulled her tight into him. After a quick look into her surrendered green eyes he crushed her to him. They kissed. Finally.
The lights came on and the credits began to roll on the screen. The audience began to shuffle, gather their popcorn and coke cartons and move on to another part of their day. Amanda still sat there stunned at the beauty of the love she had seen on that screen. She finally began to breathe again and bring herself back to the present. Not that she wanted to – she would rather stay in that embrace with that look in his eyes. Now THAT was her kind of Christmas story!
Her cousins sat on the right side and finally noticed her preoccupation. They began to pick at her as they gathered their purses and made more mall shopping plans. “Come ON Amanda! We have to go!” And then they all talked at once as they joined the line to leave the cinema. They all laughed and dramatized the last love scene in the movie but Amanda knew that they had husbands to go home to. Maybe not perfect husbands, but someone that loved them, missed them, held them, and kissed them. Shaking off the thought, Amanda began the goodbye process with her 4 cousins with lots of fanfare. Southern style goodbyes came with hugs, kisses, hair touching, hand holding, encouragement and love. No proper southern goodbye would last less than 10 minutes! It was great.
She walked to her car and smiled. Her cousins could always be counted on to make her laugh…or cry, they were the best. Her phone buzzed once she got in her car. She worked at a small country church close to home and there was a Christmas play tonight. She still had many things to finalize before the cast even arrived. “Oh no!” she said as She glanced at her watch. She knew the new carpenter the church had just hired would be there to finish the manger scene at 3 p.m. and it was 2:30 p.m. now. In fact, that was him that had just text’d her.
By the time she returned all her phone calls she was back at the church. She unlocked all the entrances and walked back through the church. She paused in the church sanctuary itself, loving the stained glass picture stories in the windows, the baptismal pool behind the platform, the wooden pews and the tall rafters that covered the ceiling. Church was always a place that Amanda loved. Even alone in the building she loved knowing she was never alone. Jesus was always with her…and she knew it. Spiritually He had opened her to so much of Himself and she literally took Him at His Word.
She had learned that many people saw Jesus in the way that they needed Him, i.e., Healer, Savior, Provider, Comforter, Warrior, Father, King and many more. But for Amanda…Jesus, the Lover of Her Soul was the one she spent a lot of private time with. Since He lived on the inside of her, let’s face it, how easy was it for Him to rise up and make Himself known to her in any situation? Like today, well, today, she needed more hands than she had to get everything done! She laughed as she walked onto the platform doing a mental check off list of things that still needed to be put in place. The Star of Bethlehem needed to be hung, the Kings set up with crowns and gifts, and the manger brought in with baby Jesus…
She turned at the sound of footsteps and saw the new carpenter coming up the church aisle toward her. “Hi Amanda,” Lee said in his deep voice.
“Oh, hello Lee! I am so glad to see you. How could we do this without you?”
He laughed and stepped up on the platform with her. “There is no place I would rather be, I promise you. Why don’t you turn on some music and we can get this done in no time. I love the music you play here.”
Amanda walked to the sound booth and put in a Jewish Christmas CD that she loved. She kept the sound low but where they could sing along if they wanted to. Her phone rang. She answered and for the next few minutes talked to the pastor.
Lee smiled as He watched her. She made His heart sing, she just didn’t know it. He loved the sound of her voice and her joy. She was contagious! He started working while she was on the phone and He got most of it set up in no time at all. He turned and faced the manger scene and picked up the crowns for the finishing touch to the 3 Wise Men. He placed the crowns on them and positioned them in the front of the manger. He could not help but chuckle to Himself.
He remembered the night that the 3 Wise Men came to Him many, many years ago.
Amanda hung up the phone and came up to the platform. “Lee,” she said, “Is baby Jesus up there?” Hiding a grin, Lee said, “Hmmm I don’t see him, hold on and let me look in this box.” “Oh, I remember now!” she said, “They had to sew the blanket on him so it would not fall off when Mary picked him up tonight. Let me go get him.”
Lee…Jesus in fact…could not help but grin as she hurried down the aisle to her office.
In just a moment she headed back to the platform. “Here he is!” She stepped over to the manger and said, “Would you mind holding him for a second?” and handed him to Lee. She knelt by the manger and ruffled the hay…making it smooth for him. “Lee?” she asked. He didn’t say anything but knelt down beside her with baby Jesus in his arms. “Yes?” he asked quietly.
“You know, sometimes Jesus is so close to me. I can literally feel him. Do you know what I mean? She looked at Lee intently, searching his eyes for truth.
“Oh Amanda, I certainly do. I know with everything deep inside of me that he loves nothing better than to spend personal time closer to us than we can ever imagine.”
She closed her eyes. “I believe that too,” she said. “Jesus is a unique experience not just once, but every day. Some days He reminds me of standing on the seashore with the deep in front of me and the breeze surrounding me. Other days, it is like the smell of fresh cut grass where I walk as His footsteps lead mine. Or maybe, it is the sweetness of a fragrance that makes me wonder what He smells like.”
Amanda knelt there with her eyes closed as Jesus literally knelt next to her…his eyes drinking in the sight of her beauty, smelling her totally unique fragrance offering and loving her from heaven to earth. Placing his holy hand on the small manger next to her he felt his heart explode into the Star of Bethlehem all over again.
“How can anyone wonder if a love affair with me is worth it?” he thought.
He swallowed hard, and said, “Amanda, I think the greatest gift we can give him is the one that he gave us…” She opened her eyes and smiled at him. “Lee…you are so right,” as she laid baby Jesus in the manger.
“Thanks Lee…Merry Christmas….you are the greatest Carpenter ever.”
Patti Corbello Archer
December 23, 2012