Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmas FLASH Contest Winners

Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane /
Cross N Pens would like to announce the winners of the 2014 Christmas FLASH contest:

1st Place: The Message of the Star by Tim Suddeth

2nd Place: Perfect Accommodations by Carol Roper

3rd Place: Gifts—Even When There’s No Money by Marcia Moston

Congratulations to each of these writers and a big thank you to all the members who submitted entries. You can read each of these winning pieces below.

The Message of the Star
by Tim Suddeth

Lone sentries,
far from home
keeping watch beneath a quiet, endless sky,
on battlefields
in the forests of Germany,
the jungles of Vietnam,
the sands of Iraq,
have lifted eyes upward
to behold
the twinkling canopy of countless stars above.

Is that bright star the beacon
the shepherds saw that Holy night?
Did they understand the mystery,
the cosmic change, the star declared?

A star. Created.
Shining down on a simple planet
to illuminate the Creator. A baby,
in a lowly manger,
in a crowded unimportant village,
as long ago fore-told by the prophets.

As soldiers stand at remote posts
giving aid in areas of disaster–
hurricanes Katrina and Sandy,
the tsunami in the Philippines,
the earthquake in Japan–
the soldier is able to look out at the total devastation,
then up at the stars above,
still shining in their assigned places,
unmoved. Posted there by the Creator.

That night, the star
revealed the coming of Emmanuel,
God Is With Us.
The Holy Sovereign
too far away and pure for us to approach, yet
came down to earth that night to be with all mankind.
Emmanuel, coming on His terms
to deliver a peace armies can never win.

peace on earth,
goodwill toward man.

Perfect Accommodations
by Carol Roper

Why didn’t the innkeeper have room for Jesus?

Consider this; what if Jesus had been born in the inn?

The shepherds, who were summoned by a heavenly host of angels, may have never been let in. No one wanted to associate with lowly shepherds, considered the bottom rung in the social ladder and never invited to important events. They were outcasts. Thus, their presence in the inn would have caused an unwanted stir.

Would they’ve gone if the angels had heralded instead, “You shall find the baby in a private room at the inn, wrapped in a clean blanket and lying in a baby bassinet?” I’m sure they would have hesitated, wondering who would let them in.

But in a pungent stable they felt more at home. There was no prejudice there; they belonged, and therefore had no reservation about seeking out a manger holding the Savior.

Mary and Joseph welcomed these who came to worship their newborn son. How comforting it must have been for Mary, after going through the treacherous journey and the labor of her first-born, to see these men. It didn’t matter they were smelly social outcasts. Their soiled robes didn’t cause Mary to shoo them away; she wasn’t afraid of their dirt. She was, however, impressed with their presence. Obviously they’d been summoned by God to welcome this child. They affirmed Gabriel’s message. This was the Christ child.

If Jesus had been born in the inn, we may have missed the miracle of Christ stepping from His throne on high into the lowest of places to meet the lowliest of people, proving His love for every single one of us. A stable may not seem the best place for our Messiah’s entrance into the world, but God knew it was perfect.

Gifts: Even When There’s No Money
by Marcia Moston

Two days before Christmas. With two hundred dollars in her pocket and twelve hundred miles ahead of her, she figured the chances of getting home weren’t good. Anna felt the disappointment masked as understanding travel through her mother’s voice over the phones lines when she told her.

It would be her parents first Christmas without all their children, three grown and gone, two still there though. Well, they’d certainly miss her, mom said, but they hadn’t given up hope that her brother on leave from the service would make it in time.

Dad would be sad, but hey, that’s what happens in families. Kids grow and go.

Anna set the receiver down and stared at the wall. But she didn’t see the Monet poster tacked up with push pins or the calendar with the snowy Rocky Mountain peaks scene—a gift from the oil company.
What she saw was a Christmas tree lit with fat multi-colored lights that glowed through the heavy drippings of tinsel. Tinsel strands that shimmered and reached out to grab you when you got near. She saw mounds of presents that appeared every year even though her mom warned them not to expect much because they had no money.

And superimposed on Monet’s “Water Lilies” poster, she saw the smiles of parents who had sacrificed and squeezed out from somewhere enough to surprise, gladden, and celebrate their family.

She counted her money once again then dialed information. “Greyhound Bus Terminal, please.”

For the next twenty-four hours, wedged in the middle of the back bench of a Grey Hound bus, all Anna could think about was the surprise and delight on her parents’ faces when they opened the door on Christmas Eve and saw their gift—even though this year there wasn’t money for one.

1 comment: