Saturday, December 12, 2009
Mary's Boy Child
Christmas is a time for remembering. While driving to a family Christmas party today I heard one of my favorite Christmas songs on the radio - "Mary's Boy Child." Whenever I hear this song it brings me back to my childhood - I am 9 years old again, and at boarding school. As Methodist missionaries' kids in Liberia, West Africa, our best option for a good education was a Lutheran boarding school about an hour away from my home at the Ganta mission station, and my parents made the difficult decision to send my brother and me there at a young age. There were about 30 kids at the "hostel", as we called it, between the ages of 7 and 14, mostly missionaries' kids from around Liberia. We were cared for by our house parents, Uncle Ron and Aunt Elaine, and were bused to a school on a nearby college campus. Every night before bed we would all meet in the common area, a large living room between the girls hall and the boys hall, and have devotions. Sometimes a local teacher would come and tell us stories, and we would hang on her every word, eagerly waiting each night for the next installment of her story. Sometimes we would have music - I remember one night before Christmas vacation a young Peace Corps man came with his guitar and shared his music with us. "Long time ago in Bethlehem so the Holy Bible Say, Mary's boy child Jesus Christ was born on Christmas Day..." I had never heard this song before and I sat transfixed, soaking in the beautiful words and melody. "And man will live forevermore because of Christmas day." Such powerful words, and as young as I was I really felt the power of them that night. Thirty boys and girls, sitting in a circle in their pajamas on a warm African night, with the tropical sounds of frogs and fruit bats outside, quietly listening to a young man share the Christmas story. I will always remember the peace and purity of that moment and each Christmas when I hear "Mary's Boy Child" I am a little girl again, realizing for the first time the true meaning of Christmas.