Light up the night
AHOSKIE – It’s a simple story….one learned through a book that has been read and studied over thousands of years.
But yet the power of that story is everlasting.
As individuals from all ages bundled against the cold air here Saturday evening at the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony hosted by the Town of Ahoskie, Laretta Lassiter shared that story, filling those assembled with the hope and love that accompanies the holiday season.
“We gather here just not to light this tree, but to honor a story that lights the world,” said Lassiter, a retired school teacher who still shares her vast knowledge with local youngsters through her role as a substitute instructor. “We celebrate a story that is beautiful just as it is simple. A story of a child born far from home to parents guided only by faith. That faith spread a message that has endured for more than 2,000 years.”
That story is known to most everyone….the birth of baby Jesus, born to two weary travelers who could find no room to bed down for the night and were sent to a stable to rest.
“This is not just any child, not just any birth,” she reminded her audience. “It was one that made the angels rejoice and attracted shepherds and kings from afar. Jesus was the manifestation of God’s love for us and he grew up to become a leader with a service heart. He taught us lessons….powerful words that we should love God and our neighbors as ourselves.
“No matter who we are or where we come from or how we worship, that message can unite all of us during this holiday season,” she added. “It’s important for us to keep in mind the central message of this season and keep Christ’s words in our hearts and in our deeds. Always remember the people near you…many need our help. In this season of hope and love, please remember the homeless, the sick and the shut-ins.
“There’s something about a tree lighting; there’s something about Christmas that sets the day apart. It brings to mind those things in life that are held closest to the heart. Let us always remember that Christ is the reason for the season. Merry Christmas and God bless you all,” she concluded.
Ahoskie Mayor Brien Lassiter served as the Master of Ceremonies at Saturday’s event, held at No Man’s Land Park on Main Street. He was joined in the annual festivities by the Rev. C. David Stackhouse, pastor of NewAhoskieBaptistChurch.
“With the thrill of the season coming, to include the flickering of these lights, let us embrace hope, love and unity…one for the other. Unify this town….let us care about one another and be kind one to another,” Stackhouse offered in prayer to begin the ceremony.
The Purified Praise Dancers of St. John’s Christian Church entertained the crowd, as did a group of youngsters who gathered alongside Rev. Stackhouse who led them in performing several traditional Christmas carols.
The innocent eyes of those same youngsters widened when the siren blared from an Ahoskie Fire Department truck. That vehicle contained two special passengers – Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus, who visited with the children….carefully listening to their Christmas “wish lists.”
Refreshments were served to the crowd by staffers with the Ahoskie Parks and Recreation Department and the Delta GEMS.