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"Tapper's Final Christmas"' is a mini-story that is part of the EMPATH: The Luckiest Smurf story series.

The Story

It was around the Christmas season in the year Tapper had turned 781 years old. Tapper had grown ill and weak in the months following his birthday, with his daughters Fiona and Meaghan taking care of him every step of the way while his grandson Nehemiah became the pastor of the Smurf Village Church. Tapper had lost his wife Siobhan some years before to illness, and he had a feeling that it would soon be his time to join his wife with the Almighty in heaven. Empath and the few Smurfs that remained of his generation kept Tapper company as much as they could, hoping that he would stay with them at least until the New Year.

Brainy was baffled as his friend was refusing any of his help to stay alive. "Empath, you've got to speak to him about allowing me to smurf my magic so that he doesn't have to die before his time," Brainy said, sounding very concerned.

"I know you only mean to help, Brainy, but Tapper insisted on relying upon the power of his Almighty to stay alive for as long as he can," Empath said. "Besides, you know that Tapper believes that sorcery is of the devil and will refuse to smurf any part of things that are not of the Almighty."

Brainy seemed a bit offended. "Well, if that's how he wants to smurf on from this world, Empath, then so be it. I'm not going to scold him and say that I smurfed him so if he's fully aware of the consequences of his decisions."

Grouchy, who at that point was going by the name Asher, was upset by the idea that one of his closest friends was going to pass away soon. "I hate seeing another of my fellow Smurfs passing away, Empath," he said during some time alone with his friend together.

"I know how you feel, Asher," Empath said, trying to sound comforting. "We lost Duncan McSmurf, which still hurts to this day, but at least you have the comfort of knowing you're going to smurf him again in heaven one day."

"Well, why don't you ask the Almighty to be your Lord and Savior so you can join us together when we leave this world?" Asher asked.

"I wish that I could, Asher, believe me," Empath said with some honest feeling.

"You know the truth of what Tapper's been smurfing you from Scripture, Empath," Asher said. "I just don't want to see you smurf from this world without knowing you're going to a better place."

"I will be happy knowing where you're smurfing from this life, Asher, and that will be enough for me," Empath said, trying to sound reassuring.

Fiona And Tapper's Last Moment Together

It was on Christmas Day that Tapper summoned his two children, his sons-in-law Natural and Slouchy, and his grandchildren together for one last prayer together. Empath watched as they formed a circle around Tapper's bed and joined hands while Tapper prayed in a weak voice.

"Oh Lord God, the Father Almighty, the Maker of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen, I thank You for the years You have given me as well as the children who will carry on in my stead," he prayed. "Smurf with them as they continue in this world to be your vessels of honor that they may fully smurf You in all things, that the gospel of peace shall continue to be smurfed throughout the whole world beginning in our Jerusalem, that everyone will come to know You as the one and only true God and their personal Savior. To my children, I say, 'May Jehovah bless you and keep you; may Jehovah make His face shine upon you, and be gracious unto you; may Jehovah lift up His presence upon you, and give you peace.' In the name of Your only begotten Son Jesus Christ I pray. Amen."

"Amen," the family members said together as the prayer ended.

"Farewell, my dear Papa," Fiona said as she kissed her father's cheek. "May we see each other again in eternity when our time here is smurfed."

"My precious little treasure from heaven, don't grieve for me, for I know we will smurf each other at the time appointed to us, as long as hold smurf onto the promise of our Father in heaven," Tapper said, sounding assuring.

"Thank you, Papa, for smurfing me to know my Lord and Savior before you passed on," Meaghan said with some honest feeling.

"I know the road smurfing there was hard for you, my dearest little one, but all I did was smurf the seed and your sister watered it," Tapper said. "It was the Almighty that made the seed grow, the One you should smurf your thanks to. But if it counts for anything, it was my honor to smurf you into the Smurfette that you are now."

Empath watched as the family members tearfully embraced Tapper for what may be their last time together on this earth, knowing that this was just a temporary goodbye for they will see each other again in heaven. He felt a tear forming in his eye, knowing that he was going to lose yet another close friend in this physical life that he knew.

After the family members left, Empath joined Tapper at his bedside. "It seems ironic now that I must be the one who will smurf you comfort while you are smurfing there, waiting for your moment of departure, Tapper," Empath said. "It seems like yesterday that you smurfed to me when I was just a Smurfling visiting the village from Psychelia and you offered me a glass of sarsaparilla ale to make me feel like a Smurf."

"It seems strangely fitting that my passing from this world should happen on the day that my Lord and Savior has entered into the world as a man, Empath," Tapper said. "But then I am reminded that a person in Scripture named Simeon saw the Christ in the temple when His parents smurfed Him there to present Him before the Lord, that the Spirit told that man he would not depart from this world before seeing the Christ. I have smurfed the Lord face to face in my time travels, and I am fully convinced in what I have believed for years, even until now."

"But don't you worry about the judgment that is smurfed before you, Tapper, that you may be found to not have accomplished everything the Almighty has smurfed you out to do as His servant?" Empath asked.

"I know that I will be judged, my friend, but I do not fear, for I know that the Almighty has smurfed into my heart and has found me faithful," Tapper said. "Whether the entire village is saved or not, I have smurfed what Paul the apostle had said about himself before his passing: 'I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith. Hereafter, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all the ones loving His appearing.'"

"Are you ashamed that I still have not chosen to become a believer before your passing?" Empath asked.

"The Lord has smurfed me what path you will smurf when I am gone, and I will leave it in His hands to fulfill when it is time," Tapper said. "But know this, that I have always loved you with the love that the Almighty has smurfed to me, and that I will always love you."

Empath nodded in understanding, finding himself feeling choked up in emotion. "I can sense that it is now time for you to depart, Tapper. I will let you join the Almighty now. Tell Duncan when you meet him there that Empath said hello."

"I will certainly deliver him the message, my friend, trust me," Tapper said with a slight nod.

Then a bright shining angel appeared in the room on the other side of Tapper's bed. "Naomhán, I have been sent to take your soul into heaven now," the angel said.

Tapper looked at the angel and smiled. "I know. I am ready. Farewell, my fellow Empath. And may God be with you."

Then in the next moment, the room glowed bright as Empath saw Tapper's soul depart from his body, standing next to the angel and holding her hand. And then suddenly in a flash, both the angel and Tapper's soul were gone, and his friend's body laid lifeless in the bed. Empath placed Tapper's hand back onto the bed, closed his friend's eyes, and wept for him.

In that moment of weeping, Empath remembered the words Tapper had spoken from Scripture: "Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed — in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed."


At the funeral which took place after New Year's Day, the entire Smurf Village gathered around inside and outside the chapel to pay their last respects for the first Smurf among them who became a Christian. Tapper's body was given a proper embalming and in his coffin he was holding the first copy of the Bible which had been given unto him by the angel that met him years ago. There was hardly a dry eye as they heard Nehemiah preaching his sermon from the pulpit that he hoped would be encouraging to his listeners.

"I have a feeling the same words that my grandfather would smurf to us on this day would be those of Peter the apostle in his second epistle: 'For this reason I will not be negligent to always remind you of these things, though you know and are established in the present truth. Yes, I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up with reminders, knowing that shortly I must put off my tent, just as our Lord Jesus Christ made known to me. Moreover I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder of these things after my departure. For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." And we heard this voice which came from Heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. And so we also have a more sure Word of prophecy, which you do well to heed as to a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that not any of the prophecies of Scripture came into being from personal exposition, for prophecy was not formerly brought forth by man's choice, but holy men of God spoke as they were propelled along by the Holy Spirit.'"

Nehemiah continued. "Six of my grandather's generation of Smurfs, my grandfather included, were indeed witnesses of the same Lord that I preach unto you today. They smurfed Him being put to death on the cross in the most exsmurfiating way imaginable, and then smurfed Him on the third day risen from the tomb in which He was smurfed. This event has forever changed the lives of those who witnessed this event personally, as their spirits could attest. My grandfather, who was undersmurfing doubt at the time this event smurfed place, was like Thomas, smurfed the very evidence of the smurfed hands and the smurfed side of the ever-living Savior, who Himself said, 'Blessed are those who are not seeing and yet are believing.'"

"Everything my grandfather believed about this Jesus, he tried to emulate to the best of his ability and through the aid of the Holy Spirit in his own life, to walk as He walked, to smurf the same miracles that He smurfed. My grandfather wasn't perfect, but he smurfed to make Jesus so real in his own life that others would smurf the Savior through him. And to this day many lives were touched and changed because of him, because being Jesus to us mattered more to him than life itself. We wondered why he wasn't like most of us Smurfs, why he acted so different, why he was so friendly when most of us weren't always friendly to him, why he wasn't afraid like most of us were of the giants of the land. This faith, this solid-rock faith smurfed on the solid rock of this Jesus Christ being the only begotten Son of God, the Christ, is what made him into the Smurf he was today. He is truly alive and in heaven waiting for the day when He will someday smurf up His Father's Kingdom upon this earth, and of His peace and justice there will be no end, and there will be no more pain, or suffering, or even death."

"The only question I ask today is: are you ready for the coming of the Lord's Kingdom? Have you smurfed your faith in the only true God who has loved you from the beginning of creation, who has created you and has given you a Savior who has died for all men and for all creation, the Christ who in the form of God did not consider clinging to be equal with God, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men, and being smurfed comprised as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross? Make sure you smurf your peace with Him before it is your time to pass on from this world."

After the sermon ended, Fiona stepped up to the podium. "This is a song my father has smurfed to me and Meaghan when we were just wee ones, a song that he has smurfed every Christmas ever since until this day. I feel that it is only fitting that I should smurf this song that he will now only smurf before the Almighty in heaven." And so with Harmony's grandson sitting at the piano beginning to play the song, she sang:

I've heard about this baby boy
Who's come to earth to bring us joy
And I just want to sing this song to you
It goes like this, the fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
With every breath I'm singing Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah

A couple came to Bethlehem
Expecting child, they searched the inn
To find a place for You were coming soon
There was no room for them to stay
So in a manger filled with hay
God's only Son was born, oh Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah

The shepherds left their flocks by night
To see this baby wrapped in light
A host of angels led them all to You
It was just as the angels said
You'll find Him in a manger bed
Immanuel and Savior, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah

A star shown bright up in the east
To Bethlehem, the wisemen three
Came many miles and journeyed long for You
And to the place at which You were
Their frankincense and gold and myrrh
They gave to You and cried out Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah

I know You came to rescue me
This baby boy would grow to be
A man and one day die for me and you
My sins would drive the nails in You
That rugged cross was my cross, too
Still every breath You drew was Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah

After the song was over, Empath took to the podium to speak a few words. "My first memory of the Smurf I knew as Tapper, originally born as Naomhán Críostóir Smurf, was when he offered me a glass of sarsaparilla ale to drink during my first visit to this village years ago. I will never forget how kind and gentle he was with me when I didn't know how to express emotions. He reached out to people that he knew would never love him back, and he made their happiness more important than his own. He was always willing to listen to his fellow Smurfs and their various problems, to smurf a kind word of encouragement when it was needed as well as some good advice. I am forever glad for the life he chose to live among us, even with his Almighty guiding him every step of the way to become the very Smurf none of us could dream of living without. He did more than just pour out the drinks to us thirsty Smurfs, he poured out his very heart and soul unto those who were thirsty for that kind of love and kindness that they couldn't smurf anywhere else. And for that, I am pleased to know that he will receive his reward in heaven and be with his Almighty forever."

"Thank you, Grandpa Smurf," Nehemiah said as he took to the podium again and Empath returned to his seat. "As I close this sermon, let me smurf with you the words that were smurfed to John the apostle in the revelation of Jesus Christ: 'And he showed me a pure river of Water of Life, clear as crystal, going forth out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the Tree of Life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. And they shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. And there shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever.'"

"That is the day that I and my family smurf forward to, and hopefully those of you gathered here today are also smurfing forward to on this day of days, when the Almighty receives back what He has smurfed unto us until the time of the resurrection of the dead. As my grandfather usually smurfs at the end of his sermons, I smurf unto you what was commanded unto Aaron the priest to smurf unto the children of Israel: 'May Jehovah bless you and keep you; may Jehovah make His face shine upon you, and be gracious unto you; may Jehovah lift up His presence upon you, and give you peace.' In the name of Your only begotten Son Jesus Christ I pray. Amen."

"Amen," the crowd said together.

Fiona took to the podium again for a closing song:

We are a moment, You are forever,
Lord of the ages, God before time.
We are a vapor, You are eternal,
Love everlasting, reigning on high.

Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty,
Worthy is the Lamb who was slain.
Highest praises, honor, and glory
Be unto Your Name, be unto Your Name.

We are the broken, You are the Healer,
Jesus, Redeemer, mighty to save.
You are the love song we'll sing forever,
Bowing before You, blessing Your Name.

Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty,
Worthy is the Lamb who was slain.
Highest praises, honor, and glory
Be unto Your Name, be unto Your Name.

After the service was over, Fiona went over to Empath to speak to him. "I believe you had the privilege of watching my Papa be smurfed off into heaven by an angel in his final moments," Fiona said. "I doubt that he had smurfed any pain during his passing from this life."

"It was beautiful how he passed away, Fiona," Empath said. "I am sorry you didn't get to smurf it for yourself in the moment that it took place."

"I believe that the Almighty has smurfed this to you for a reason, that He desires you to be part of His eternal Kingdom," Fiona said. "He knows the pain you have suffered during your childhood and wishes to smurf unto you His peace, His comfort, and His healing."

"I know that He does, Fiona," Empath said. "I just wish I didn't feel like I was smurfing a grudge against Him for smurfing my life be the way it was when my Papa Smurf left me in Psychelia all those years ago."

"I will still continue to pray for you, Uncle Empath," Fiona said. "For however many years I may still have left to smurf, I will continue to smurf you the same kind of love that the Almighty has smurfed to me in the years that I have personally known Him."


Later that night while he was sleeping, Empath had dreamed that he saw Tapper appearing in the prime of his youth in heaven, meeting a familiar face that looked like he was also in the prime of his youth. "Tapper, laddie, it's so glad to smurf you after all those years," that being said.

Tapper recognized who it was. "My fellow Duncan. How has your rest been in the Lord?"

"So far it's been peaceful, though I can't wait for the New Jerusalem to smurf down upon the new earth at the due time," Duncan answered. "How are Empath and the others?"

"They are as smurfy as ever, though I still long for Empath to join us here in Paradise when his time is finished," Tapper replied.

"That is something only the Lord will reveal in His time, laddie," Duncan said. "Come, share in the glorious feast of the angels as we wait for the smurfing of His Kingdom."

"Lead the way, my friend," Tapper said as both he and Duncan walked off together.

Empath smiled at the thought.

Notes

  • The story's original intended title was "Tapper's Final Hallelujah".
  • The song performed in this story is Cloverton's "A Hallelujah Christmas," which is based on Leonard Cohen's version of "Hallelujah".
  • Scripture verses used in this story include (in the order of their appearance) 2nd Timothy 4:7-8, 2nd Peter 1:12-21, Philippians 2:5-8, and Revelation 22:1-5.
  • Tapper's and Nehemiah's blessing is based on Numbers 6:24-26.

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