TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS
And our house was full of people coming to hear once more the miraculous story about the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ, Emmanuel (God with us). I never grow tired of hearing this Christmas story.
After our Pastor Randy finished welcoming everyone, we started off with the singing of The First Noel, a wonderful Christmas Carol to reflect upon and put people in a festive mood.
Then there was a Christmas skit put on by the youth of our church, acting out the journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem on a donkey. They arrived at the inn keeper’s door only to be told there are no rooms available, but space may be made for them in the smelly stable. After the innkeeper shuffled around the sheep in the stable, the teenagers dressed up like sheep engaged in a hilarious dialogue complaining of being shoved out of their sleeping space. Finally, Mary and Joseph entered the barn, more hilarious talk among the animals about what they perceive is happening. Then the proud parents emerged with the infant Jesus. Mind you all of this was done with very little rehearsal time, with the young actors forgetting some of their lines and missing their cues. Add to this the awkward, overacting which brought gales of laughter from the audience. Now that’s entertainment!
Following this our Pastor performed a baby boy’s dedication. This is the third child of a young family to be dedicated on Christmas Eve, such a beautiful family tradition. Every Christmas shall bring back fond memories for them.
Our Pastor’s Christmas sermon was different, designed to get the congregation thinking about the birth of Jesus. He talked briefly about all the people involved and their part in the Christmas story. The angels announcing the amazing news to the shepherds; God who chose Mary to be the mother of Jesus, announced by the angel Gabriel; Joseph the stepdad to help raise Jesus to a man; Elisabeth, Mary’s aunt, who became pregnant at a ripe old age to give birth to the forerunner, Jesus’ cousin John the Baptist, the one crying out from the wilderness. Randy left us with a thought-provoking question, what part do you play in this miracle? Do you believe and accept Jesus as your savior and son of God? Do you wish to become a part of this glorious mystery? Or is it just a nice Yule time story? Well, what part do you play in all of this?
Communion was then served to all of the people gathered together to celebrate the birth of Christ. Partaking of the elements reminds us of what took place at the last supper. On the night Jesus was to be betrayed, He gave thanks, broke the bread declaring this is my body broken for you. Then He picked up the wine goblet saying this is my blood shed for you, and Jesus passed around the cup. It may seem strange to some people to tell this cruel story of crucifixion during the celebration of Christ’s birth. However, the two are tied together. The cradle and the cross are inseparable. Without the cross, the cradle becomes just a story about a poor Jewish boy born about 2000 years ago. We are all saved from our sins because of the cross.
We ended with a candlelight circle around the church, singing Silent Night. May the joy of this Christmas season bring peace and love into your hearts.
By David and Cheryl Jowle