December 24, 2023 Christmas Eve
5:30 p.m. Service
Luke 2:1-14 and Luke 2:15-20
The Christmas Blessing
It is such a joy that all of you celebrate with each other and your families and friends at this special time of year here with First Presbyterian Church in Valdosta.
Before you arrived here this evening, I’m sure you were enjoying each other’s company, preparing the house with Christmas decorations and Christmas dishes to celebrate the birth of Jesus with friends and families. And, if you know of someone who is going to be alone this Christmas, I hope you are able to invite them to celebrate with you.
We have been enjoying a Storybook Advent this season, and this evening, our book is, “The Christmas Blessing,” by Erin Guendelsberger
Have you ever been awakened in the middle of the night by a bright light? It doesn’t make you too cheerful when your sleep is interrupted, does it?
In our story, the animals are a bit irritable after being awakened by the bright light shining into the stable. They are confused as to what is going on because their bodies tell them it is not yet time to be awakened for day.
However, Mama Star is shining bright for a good reason this particular night, this very special night, and she needs the help of the animals to prepare the stable and manger for very special guests that are to arrive.
It’s one thing to be awakened in the middle of the night, and then it is another to be asked to start cleaning! Who wants to do that? Would we be prepared for this work that was required? Are we prepared today for the work required to greet Jesus?
Now the animals, begin to blame each other for exactly whose mess it is that needs to be cleaned up…sounds like humans, doesn’t it. As they begin to argue, they cannot reach a compromise and decide to refuse to do the work that is being required of them.
Mama Star is persistent and shines even brighter explaining how desperately she needs them to work together. After all, a very special baby will arrive tonight. She reminds them how they have more in common than they think, and if they are capable of love, then surely they can work together to prepare for this special baby.
They are reminded of the love they have for their children, their families, and their friends, and, after all, “Love is love,” Mama Star tells them.
How simple a word is like love, yet how complicated we can make it. Everyone wants to be loved, so why do we make it so hard? Why can’t we get along with one another? Why do we look more at what we don’t have in common, than the love we do have in common?
Love is love.
With this, the animals go to work together to prepare the manger, and they do it with acceptance, love and speed. Who knew that love can make us efficient!
Expressing her joy and gratitude, and her own love for the animals and the baby to come, Mama Star praises the animals for embracing each other to work in harmony, and the work was completed just in time as the star shines even brighter to welcome in the Holy family and the animals say hello to the welcomed visitors.
Soon the blessed child arrives, born that special bright night there in the stable and placed in a manger. A humble space filled with love welcomes a Savior full of truth, beauty, goodness, love and grace is received.
What a beautiful story! And it doesn’t end there, it begins there…a new world begins that very special night when the Savior arrives.
As we continue the story in the Gospel of Luke, we learn the shepherds were approached by the angel and led by the bright star to greet the Christ child, the Messiah. They are amazed and go out to spread the message of all they had been told. This night, this very special night, a new world began by the one who brings peace to all, Glory to God!
Let us celebrate this most wonderful night!
As we sing together, Hymn Page 123, “It Came Upon the Midnight Clear,” please come by the manger here on the communion table and pick up a star to remember that very special night.