This month I want to introduce you to Hubbard and Barbara Sprouse. I met the Sprouses when I was the pastor at Fitzgerald Memorial Baptist Church in Cumberland. Hubbard and Barbara live in Cumberland, but they both were raised in Chesterfield. Hubbard graduated from Meadowbrook and Barbara from Thomas Dale. Not only were they high school sweethearts, but they actually got married in their senior year of high school. After high school Hubbard went to work for C&P Telephone Company, which is now Verizon, and he stayed there until he retired. Barbara was a homemaker for their four children and also a preschool teacher.
I hadn’t seen them in a couple of years until they visited Bethel one Sunday morning a few months ago. I recognized Barbara right away, but I didn’t recognize Hubbard. I thought to myself, “Who is the guy sitting next to Barbara that looks like Santa Claus?” Sure enough it was Hubbard. After the service he told me how the Lord has placed upon him a call to play Santa Claus. Hubbard’s call to play Santa comes out of a heart of giving that he first noticed when he was a teenager. He and a friend left football practice one day and on the way home they stopped to help a lady change a flat tire. The lady tried to pay them $3.00 apiece, but neither Hubbard nor his friend wanted any money. Hubbard said, “I’ll never forget how great it felt just to be able to help someone in need.” That lesson stuck with him and as time wore on Hubbard noticed that both he and Barbara had a love for children. Hubbard says, “Children are God’s gift to us and I always remember playing with my own children, coaching sports with them, and then teaching Sunday school. I just really love kids!” It was that love of children and compassion for others that led him to playing Santa, that and a Santa Claus note pad.
Hubbard has a notepad that he’s been using for some time and that notepad is in the outline of Santa Claus, only without a face. The face is a blank space where you can take notes. Hubbard said, “I would sometimes look at that notepad without Santa’s face and wonder if the Lord was telling me to be the face of Santa.” This thought led him to do some research and it wasn’t long before he enrolled in the International University for Santa Claus. That’s correct, there’s a university for Santas. It’s actually a three-day workshop that is held in different locations around the country. Hubbard learned that one of the locations was in Woodbridge, Virginia, so he enrolled and completed the class. This December will be Hubbard’s first official year as Santa.
One of the things Hubbard hopes to accomplish as Santa is to help link Christ to the story of Santa. Hubbard says, “Christmas is so commercialized that the real meaning of Christmas is often overlooked. The real meaning of Christmas is the birth of our savior. Jesus was God’s gift to the world and he gave himself to us and this tradition of giving is what we celebrate at Christmas. Without Jesus there would be no Santa Claus.”
I’m delighted to announce that one of Hubbard’s first “gigs” as Santa will be at Bethel. Mark your calendars for Sunday, December 18th. The 18th is going to be a big day. At 10:30 we’ll have our Christmas Cantata. Our choir has been practicing for several months, I know that will be wonderful. After the service we’re going to have a Christmas fellowship lunch and during lunch Old St. Nick will pay a visit to Bethel. We’re going to invite our
families, our food pantry families, and anyone else with children to be our guest that day. We are going to provide each family with a free picture with Santa. Hopefully this will save people from having to pay to see Santa at a mall. Instead, they can see Santa at Bethel, in church, where we’ll have the opportunity to share with people that the real meaning of Christmas is the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I’m so grateful to Hubbard and Barbara Sprouse and their heart for the Lord and for their willingness to give of their time to bless us on the 18th. Please invite your friends to come to Bethel on the 18th and get a picture with Santa and a blessing from our Lord. May God Bless Hubbard and Barbara Sprouse and May God bless Bethel Church. Merry Christmas to all! Amen.