From Chapter One
“What we could all use right now is a bit of a miracle from heaven,” mumbled the aging Bishop, as he quietly gazed upward at the quiescent golden cross of Jesus hanging over the dusty oak pulpit. Shaking his head in thoughtful dismay, he blew out all the melted white candles still lit on the marble altar and began to close the church for the night. With less than two weeks before Christmas, Bishop John Matthew pondered over the Evening Mass, knowing it had been both boring and predictably uninspiring. Only a handful of regulars, as well as a couple of homeless and hopeless had even bothered to attend. Not sure how late it was, he wondered if he’d be able to inspire any optimism for the future to his dwindling congregation at the upcoming Christmas Eve Midnight Mass. When he looked at the old watch he’d worn on his wrist for years, the hands had stopped at 11:11 o’clock, but when he looked at the clock on the wall…it said the exact same time.
That’s very strange…he musingly said to himself…it just now quit! It’s an interesting synchronicity…I wonder if it means anything?
He shook his wrist a couple of times, but the hands did not move.
The Bishop took a deep breath and let out a muffled sigh.
"Maybe it’s time to get one of those smartphones," he said out loud...but then questioned if Jesus would have used one of those?
He heard music coming from the old wooden organ in the balcony. It was his favorite yuletide carol, Oh Holy Night.
“Who’s up there?” he shouted. “I’m locking everything up.”
The elderly grey-haired Bishop lifted his head and looked again at the numbed face of a dying Jesus.
As he tried to conjure a smile, his eyes began to water.
Holding back tears, a dire sense of despair came over him…as he turned to see who the mystery musician might be.
He leaned forward and peered at the darkened balcony, but could not see anyone, so he moved a few steps closer to get a better view.
To his astonishment, and as if from out of nowhere, a white dove swooped down from the ceiling, flying directly towards his face.
The Bishop quickly jumped back. At first, he was startled, but then said with a light chuckle…Lord in heaven, where did you come from?
After gaining his composure, the Bishop shook his head a few times and mumbled…must be another hole in the roof. First, it’s the watch, and now this. It’s just one ‘beaver dam’ thing after another. Maybe I just need some sleep…he thought…too much stress this time of year.
He watched the dove as it flew around the church for a moment, finally perching itself on one of the outstretched arms of Jesus.
Again, the Bishop turned in the direction of the balcony to see who was there. When he did, the music came to an immediate stop.
Still not able to see anyone, he shouted out, “Is anyone there?”
When no reply came…he walked even closer
He was very perplexed at there being no response.
But then…the inside of the church started to become brighter. The colorful stained-glass windows began to flicker and glow...and he found himself surrounded by a dazzling light show. Feeling dizzy and confused, the Bishop held on to one of the pews.
“God Almighty, what the heck is going on?” he shouted.
Now frightened…the Bishop dropped to his knees. Placing his hands together, he closed his eyes and began to pray.
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