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How to tell the ‘greatest story ever told’

By Hank Sims Daily Planet staff
Monday December 24, 2001

Pity the person who must find a way to make a 2000-year-old story sing. One would think that every approach, every once-novel spin on the tale, had been tried and abandoned centuries ago. 

Still, Father George Abegadan, who was installed at Gilman Street’s beautiful, old-world St. Ambrose Catholic Church in October, knows how to get the Christmas message across to his congregation. 

“The good sermon has to appeal to the heart and to the intellect,” he says. “That’s why stories are so powerful. They appeal to the whole person.” 

“When children go back to their homes and repeat a story to their parents, you have succeeded,” he says.  

Father Abegadan says that he will speak for only 10 minutes or so at each of the two Christmas sermons he will give this year.  

“The sermon used to be very long, and would preach at the people,” he says – a method he thinks is no longer effective in the modern world.  

This Christmas, Father Abegadan will tell the tale of the birth of the baby Jesus, as he does every year, and he’ll tell another story – one with a related theme, but one that his parishioners should find more accessible. 

“I love stories, and Christmas is a time for stories,” he says. “The challenge is to connect the Christmas story to our story, to the problems and aspirations of our lives.”