Welcome to the Whyte House Family Spoken Novels podcast: Holiday Edition episode #91. Today we are reading chapter 34 of the book “I’m Dreaming of a Black Christmas” by Daniel Whyte III with Meriqua Whyte.
The original wedding date between Paul and Cassandra had been set for Christmas Eve which happened to fall on a Wednesday. Grant Lee suggested that they move the ceremony to Christmas Day. “You and Mom getting married will be the best present I receive,” he told his parents.
“And since you had Grant Lee and Cassandra to yourselves for fourteen years, it’s only fitting that the wedding be held at my church, Mt. Shiloh Baptist Church,” Rev. Barnett declared laughing. “And I would count it an honor to officiate.”
Rev. Nichols readily agreed to this, saying, “I’ll be honored to give my daughter into your son’s hand.” He smiled as a tear drop fell from his right eye. They gave each other a big hug.
“Here’s what I suggest we do,” Natalie said. “Since we already have everything paid for for the wedding, we’ll just transfer everything to Mt. Shiloh. I’ll make some phone calls to the florist, the guests, photographers, etc., and inform them of the changes, and we should be all set.”
“You gentlemen,” Athaliah said speaking to both their husbands, “can help Grant recruit his friends for groomsmen and take them all to fit their tuxedos. We ladies will handle it from here. Christmas is only three days away and we have a lot to do.” Natalie, Athaliah, Carolyn, and many of the women from Mt. Shiloh Baptist worked feverishly to have everything transferred from the sanctuary of First Baptist to Mt. Shiloh Baptist. The staff of Big Mama’s Soul Food Restaurant started planning a huge spread for the wedding reception dinner.
The phone at the Nichols’ house rang amidst the flurry of activities. It was Prudence. “Just calling to let you know my husband, children, and myself are boarding a plane as I speak.” Prudence was overjoyed when Natalie told her of the changes. “God is good,” was all she could say.
Grant put his arm around Cassandra as they spent some time alone.
“How do you feel?” he asked her.
“I don’t have the words to describe how I feel,” Cassandra said. “It’s truly a dream come true.”
He gave her a full embrace. “I see you never lost hope.”
“No. I just couldn’t. Something deep inside of me would not let me. I knew you’d return; I just did not know when. With Mother pressuring me and wanting a father for Grant Lee, I guess I buckled, but God worked it all out in the nick of time.”
“You can say that again. Three more days and I would have lost you forever,” Grant said kissing her. “I love you so much.”
“I love you too,” Cassandra said. “Did you ever lose hope?”
“Yes, when I got the letter from your mother saying you were getting married I thought that was the end of us until it dawned on me that you may not have authorized that letter since I did not hear from you directly as was our promise to each other. I did get impatient and tried to hurry things along. I have spent these past years learning to wait on God. I am kind of stubborn so it took me a long time to learn to fully depend on Him.” Grant bent down to kiss her again. “I am so glad I waited because today you look even more beautiful than you did fourteen years ago.”
“So do you,” Cassandra said.
Late Tuesday night, Rev. Nichols walked into the kitchen where his wife was going over a final checklist for the Christmas Day wedding. “Even after years of our foolishness, it’s amazing how God is working everything out for the good of Cassandra, Grant, and our grandson,” he said. “But you know our church was expecting our daughter to marry Paul on tomorrow. Have you sent out a notice about the change?”
Natalie sighed, “No, not yet. I’ve been trying to figure out just how to let them know.”
“Well, I’ve prayed about it and I believe God has already told me what to do,” Rev. Nichols told his wife. He paused briefly before continuing, “When everyone comes to First Baptist tomorrow, instead of a wedding, we’ll tell them the truth. We’ve come clean about our pasts with each other, Cassandra, Grant Lee, Paul, and the Barnetts. It’s time we come clean with our church family now — about everything.”
“Do you have any idea how they will respond?” Natalie asked. She set her notepad down on the counter. “They’ve already accepted Grant Lee without asking questions as to who his father is and without Cassandra being married. You’ve been pastoring at First Baptist for over thirty years now. I doubt it’ll go over well that we have been lying to them for years. They could ask you to step down.”
“Being concerned about what others think is what got us here in the first place,” Rev. Nichols replied. “We should have told the church about Grant Barnett fourteen years ago, instead of trying to make him disappear. We should have told the church about our past relationships. If they ask me to step down as their pastor now, it will be God’s will and I will be fine with that. But we’re going to tell them the truth tomorrow, both of us.”
On the afternoon of Christmas Eve, First Baptist Church was filled with congregants and visitors expecting Cassandra’s wedding. Rev. Nichols took his place behind the pulpit with Natalie beside him. “Ladies and gentleman,” he began, “I know you all came for a wedding between my daughter, Cassandra, and Paul Nielson. Cassandra is still getting married, however, it won’t be to Paul and it won’t be here today.”
Gasps and whispers broke out among the guests. “Well, we’re all here,” the head deacon said. “I’m sure you have a good explanation for this.”
“Yes, I do,” Rev. Nichols replied. “I know I have been your pastor for over thirty years now and my wife and I have enjoyed serving this church and community, but we have not been upfront with you for the past fourteen years about our daughter and grandson. If you recall, when Cassandra was pregnant we told you we sent her off to California for a short vacation. That was a lie. We actually kept her home throughout the pregnancy because we were too ashamed that the gentleman who got her pregnant happened to be a black man.
“Natalie and I believe we are reaping what we have sown because in both of our pasts, when we were younger, we both had sexual relationships outside of marriage. The two people we were involved with happened to be black. Rather than telling the truth and facing the consequences, we hid this and are just now coming clean. To make a long story short, Natalie got pregnant and had an abortion. I urged the girl I got pregnant to have an abortion but she refused. Unfortunately, I have been irresponsible and have not taken care of or seen my child. God has been dealing with both of us. We have asked Him to forgive us and we are now asking you to forgive us. There is no excuse for hiding what we did. If you want to fire me or if you want me to resign, I would be willing to do so without causing a problem.
Other than some gasps and a few sniffles, the church was silent.
Rev. Nichols continued. “With all of that behind us, there will still be a wedding. Cassandra is getting married to Grant Barnett, the son of Rev. Barnett of Mt. Shiloh Baptist Church, where the wedding will be held tomorrow. You are all still welcome to attend the wedding. It will begin at 12:30.”
The congregation remained silent as Rev. and Mrs. Nichols walked out. The head deacon followed them. “As you can imagine,” he said, “All of what you told us is a total shock to us. I’ll have to meet with the deacon board as to what to do next.”
Christmas Day came bright and clear. Prudence was Cassandra’s maid-of-honor. Grant Lee served as the ring-bearer. Mister Briley, even though he was still on bed rest, insisted on attending. Mrs. Mattie was by his side. Athaliah and Natalie, breaking tradition, were seated next to each other dabbing at tears of joy that slid down their cheeks every now and then.
Rev. Nichols proudly escorted his daughter down the aisle. Rev. Barnett delivered a charge to the entire church on the importance of keeping your word. “Just as God kept His promise to us to send us a Saviour whose birth we celebrate each year on this day, so God wants us to keep our promises or the wedding vows that you two are about to make to each other before all who are gathered here today.”
Just before they were to exchange vows, the doors to the auditorium opened and the head deacon followed by members of First Baptist Church entered the auditorium at Mt. Shiloh. Everyone, especially Rev. and Mrs. Nichols were surprised. Rev. Barnett smiled and waited as the newcomers found seats and shook hands with the members of Mt. Shiloh.
Finally, Rev. Barnett was able to continue. “Do you, Grant Barnett, take this lovely lady, Cassandra Nichols, to be your lawful wedded wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do you part?”
“Do you, Cassandra Nichols, take this young man, Grant Barnett, to be your lawful wedded husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do you part?”
“What God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. You may now place the ring on each other’s finger. Grant, you may now kiss your bride.”
The combined crowd from the two churches cheered loudly as Rev. Barnett announced, “Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, Mr. and Mrs. Grant Barnett.”
After the picture taking, the wedding party led the guests to Big Mama’s Soul Food Restaurant for the wedding reception. Once there, the head deacon walked over to Rev. Nichols and told him, “After spending time in prayer with the deacon board, we have decided to keep you as our pastor. We and the entire church family love you. You and your wife have been forgiven. None of us are perfect and we all have a past. The important thing is that if we confess it, as you did, God would have us to forgive one another.” He shook hands with Rev. Nichols and they both went to join Rev. and Mrs. Barnett, Grant and Cassandra, Grant Lee, and the other wedding guests to eat the soul food dinner that had been prepared along with the beautiful wedding cake.
It was the most memorable Christmas that Mason, Mississippi, had ever seen. That year, a tradition began: from that point on, the members of Mt. Shiloh Baptist Church and First Baptist Church came together to worship and fellowship every Christmas Day.
Thank you for joining us for this episode of Whyte House Family stories. You may purchase a copy of this novel and any other Christian fiction books read on this podcast from Amazon.com.
Now, dear listener, please know that God—the divine Author of all things—wants to write a great story with your life as well. But first you must give Him the pen by trusting Him with the life He gave you and surrendering your heart to Jesus Christ as Savior. Here is how:
- Accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Ecclesiastes 7:20: “For there is not a just man upon earth that doeth good, and sinneth not.” Romans 3:23 reads: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
- Accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”
- Accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” The Bible says in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”
- Accept the fact that you cannot do anything to save yourself! The Bible states in Ephesians 2: 8, 9: “For by grace are ye saved through faith: and that not of yourselves: it is a gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
- Accept the fact that God loves you more than you love yourself, and that He wants to save you from hell. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
- With these facts in mind, please repent of your sins, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and pray and ask Him to come into your heart and save you this very moment. The Bible states in the book of Romans 10:9, 13: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”
“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Dear friend, if you are willing to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation, please pray with me this simple prayer: Heavenly Father, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I now believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.
If you believed in your heart that Jesus Christ died on the cross, was buried, and rose again, allow me to say, congratulations on doing the most important thing in life and that is accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour! For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door”. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
May God bless you until next time.