The King of Kings, salvation brings, let loving hearts enthrone Him.

In the seventh row on the opposite side of the sanctuary, Gabe Lightmore sat leaning on his cane. Sparse white hair like tire tracks in the snow was combed carefully over his head. His suit, though a bit outdated and threadbare, was clean and well-pressed. His eyes stood out bright and full of life against his wrinkled face. It’d been eighty-two years since Gabe’s first Christmas, but he still couldn’t seem to feel a day over six when the twenty-fifth rolled around.

Oh, he had at one point, to be sure.

It seemed only yesterday he’d been helping his children hang up paper stars in the living room and handing out candy canes in his high school English class. He was always the one you could expect to be dusting off the Christmas records in late October. Yet even Gabe—or “Santa Claus”, as his students had jokingly called him—felt Christmas wearing on him at times as all busy parents did. He and his wife had worked hard to keep the magic alive for their children, but had often found themselves left out.

Now Gabe had found that magic again. It’d probably happened sometime in his fifties, when the little painted nativity scene on his mantel began to take on new life. Ever since then he’d found himself rejoicing when the weather grew colder. He used to go sledding with the neighborhood children on the first snow day every year until it got to be too much for his back. Now he only watched, but he was always there just the same. His wife would make pots and pots of hot chocolate on the stove and have it ready when they all returned. Some people shook their heads at Gabe, saying he’d never learned to act his age. Well, if frowns and grumbling were what growing up meant, he didn’t want it.

This, this is Christ the King, whom shepherds guard and angels sing…

This was one of Gabe’s favorite carols. All at once he felt the boundless mystery wash over him again, bringing tears to his eyes. With great effort he knelt and folded his hands on the pew in front of him. The cane clattered to the floor, making the other petitioners turn in annoyance. Gabe didn’t even notice. His eyes were closed, and a smile was creeping bit by bit across his face.

Instantly the others felt embarrassed for staring and turned their eyes away.

Haste, haste to bring Him laud, the babe, the son of Mary.

Gabe was the last to leave the sanctuary and bundle himself up against the bitter cold. He buttoned his overcoat carefully and then wrapped a scarf around the lower half of his face as the custodian came around the corner.

“You the last one, sir?” the custodian asked, barely hiding his frustration at being kept late.

Gabe smiled behind the old plaid scarf. “Yes, my good fellow, I believe I am.”

The custodian sighed, feeling a bit guilty and wanting to make up for it. “I just hope everyone found what they were looking for tonight.”

Gabe pulled his scarf down and looked the other man straight in the face. “That’s not the tough part. The tough part is letting it find you.” With that, the old man pulled his fur cap over his head and made his way to the small glacier that had once been his Honda Avalon.

The custodian turned back to the sanctuary to turn off the sound system.

This, this is Christ the King, whom shepherds guard and angels sing. Haste, haste to bring Him laud, the babe, the son of Mary.