HPU celebrates Christmas at community breakfast
“How did he remember all of that.”
“Did he have a teleprompter?”
“He is really gifted.”
That was the buzz on at least one High Point University shuttle bus Friday after the Rev. John Fitzgerald, a native High Pointer, told the Christmas story through the perspective of the innkeeper at the 42nd Annual Prayer Breakfast.
Fitzgerald, senior pastor of Providence United Methodist Church in Charlotte, was a pastor in High Point for 10 years. His father, Bernard Fitzgerald, served as senior pastor of Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church.
Fitzgerald kept the gathering fixed on his message with his gestures and sometimes rhyming sentences. As Fitzgerald tells the story, the old innkeeper reveals he talked to the gospel writer Luke so he could “tell of God’s glory to all.”
The inn was full, and it was the innkeeper’s wife who noticed that Mary was pregnant, tended to her in the stable and later told the innkeeper of the birth during the busy night in Bethlehem where travelers lodged on their journey to pay their taxes.
The innkeeper also was visited by Bedouins “who spoke of God’s glory” on the night of the first Christmas. The innkeeper says he repeated the story through the years so that others would know what he had seen.
Fitzgerald said he offered the Advent message as part of his reflections and research on what the first Christmas was like.
“We sometimes miss the spirit in Christmas,” said Fitzgerald, who as a member of the Reynolds L.E.A.D. (Leadership, Evangelism and Discipleship) program has traveled to South Korea and throughout the U.S. studying successful churches.
HPU Board of Trustees Chairman Gene C. Kester thanked everyone for having faith.
“You would not be here if you did not believe,” Kester said.
The annual event included special music provided by the HPU Chapel Choir, directed by Marc Foster, as well as a silent prayer held in memory of alumni, members of the university family and the community, as well as other friends who have died during the past year.