The day was filled with hustle and bustle of trying to get everything ready for Christmas. There were still presents to wrap, food to prepared, places to travel . . . oh and work to be done. Bustling through the day, each member of the family had their assigned duty.
The sisters kept the phone lines busy making sure each one remembered what the other one needed to bring and adding in some last minute surprises along the way. Friends dropped by, leaving behind wonderful gifts and food . . . oh the food. She thought it couldn't get any better until Rosa stopped by with a pan filled with steaming, freshly cooked tamales. There were traditional ones as well as the special sweet ones stuffed with raisins, and other treats--so good that they had to share one at the time. The time flew by as they rushed to prepare.
Finally the moment had come for the early service for the families with young children. Children dressed in their best filled laps as they heard the Christmas story once again, gathering for bags of goodies as they left with their eyes filled with wonder and awe. The perfect way to spend Christmas Eve.
As soon as service was over, she rushed to her waiting car and made the hour plus trip down the road to her sister. She arrived as they were lighting the candles and singing "Silent Night" flowing out into the winter night with the path illuminated by the luminaries. It was a beautiful and sacred sight as she joined in the quiet "all is calm, all is bright . . ." words of joy.
Sharing the embraces of those her sister pastored, they went to the parsonage and loaded the car with all the carefully counted and planned items. Quickly they got back on the road, knowing there was yet one more service for them to shard . . . at midnight.
Arriving back at her home, they unloaded the car, placing presents under the tree, putting away the wonderful foods her sister had brought, settling the animals, and then hurrying back to the church. It had started snowing as they had traveled. Blanketing the world is quiet flakes. Rather than drive, they walked to short distance to the church and soaked in the quiet anticipation of the morning to come. Bells from all the various churches began to ring as they stepped inside to join the small group gathered. It was midnight.
They gathered in candlelight and read the ancient story of the birth of God-with-us. They sang of the visits of angels. They prayed the prayer taught them from babyhood of God's love and protection. They partook of the bread and wine anticipating the sacrifice that baby would someday make for them. The peace and quiet of the meaning for this celebration seeped into them.
Love. Love shaped all that they did. Buying presents for those they loved. Preparing favorite foods . . . driving through the night to spend time together . . . embracing friends . . . spending time together . . . worshipping . . . all were symbols of their love. Love learned from the one whose birth they celebrated that day.
Yes, love came at Christmas. But love was already there from the creation of the earth. God's love surrounds us in all of creation. May this day, we pause . . . take a deep breath . . . and remember that in the end it is love that matters.
Source of Love, help us put aside our petty ways, our groanings, our grasping for more, and our constant wants. Instead fill us with your love. You are our hope, our peace, our joy, and our source of love. So be it. Amen.