Christmas Eve 2021

A couple nights ago I laid in bed and thought about this night. I had been looking at the Christmas narratives in Matthew and Luke. I had been contemplating the stories concerning Jesus’ birth. I had started studying certain texts but did not seem to be gaining any traction.

As I was laying there I thought of a story that I had recently heard. It was a story that Peggy Murray had told me. Her family has often taken in foreign exchange students who have come to live with them from all around the world. It is obvious that the Murray family has made an impact upon these students because I often hear stories about how these students keep in touch with them and even travel long distances for the opportunity to get to be with them again.

A couple of weeks ago one of their former foreign exchange students flew from Stillwater, Oklahoma to Stevens Point, Wisconsin to spend some time with them. I asked Peggy if she had enjoyed their time with this person and she told me about what they did on one of the evenings as they sat around the dinner table.

Apparently, whenever Peggy and Dan would have a student come and stay with them they would take lots of pictures of the things that they did. Then they would get these pictures developed and put them in a shoe box and save it for the student to receive as a gift.

When this student came to visit Peggy pulled out that shoe box and they spent the evening sitting around the table looking at pictures, remembering special moments, telling stories and re-living many wonderful moments. Then after all the pictures had been looked at and after all the stories had been told the young man was able to take his box back home to enjoy.

As I contemplated these things I longed to have that same sort of moment with you this Christmas. I wanted this night to be a moment when we would all sit together and listen to the story of Christ’s birth and celebrate this special moment together. As we do this, I pray that the Holy Spirit would make these events very personal, very real, and very special to each and every one of us.

The Murray’s carefully collected that box of pictures and recorded those events so that they could be enjoyed years later and even passed down to future generations.

Similarly, we will turn to Luke's gospel tonight and we will see that he carefully compiled a narrative of the things that had happened. He recorded eyewitness accounts of these events. He investigated these stories and followed these events closely. He compiled all of these things together in a reliable letter and then he gave it to someone.

Luke gave it to a man named Theophilus who treasured it and kept it safe. As a result, we have a record of this letter today in our bibles. We too can enjoy this letter along with so many other generations of peoples from all over the world.

In a sense, Theophilus received a precious gift from Luke. I can almost envision Theophilus receiving it and sitting at the kitchen table as he read it with his family.

This is how John opens his gospel in Luke 1:1-4, “Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all these things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.

We also come to this letter tonight to read and celebrate this narrative that Luke has compiled.

  • We have come to celebrate the fact that God has sent His Son into the world.

  • This is a message of good news and great joy for all the people!

  • We celebrate the fact that in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the LORD, has been born.