As a boy I was a “P.K.,” a “Pastor’s Kid,” so every time the church doors were open, I was there. And there were no trips out of town for the holidays, of course, so every year on Christmas Eve I was a part of the Sunday School Children’s Program, which was just fine with me because I liked being in programs and having to do something up front in church.
As part of these programs, we children would be dressed in white waist-length capes with large red bows at our necks, and we would stand up front and sing the beautiful old Christmas carols together. I did this for about 14 years, I suppose. Year after year. I still know at least the first verse of every Christmas carol by heart. I’m so thankful for that. What a blessing.
But the other component of these programs was that each of us children would say our memorized “piece.” As little children we had little “pieces,” maybe “God is love” or “Jesus is born today.” Then as we got a little older, no matter what other “pieces” were said, the program would always include the sequential recitation by several children of Luke 2, the Christmas Story.
Back then there was only the King James Version, of course, so it was never questioned which version we would use, and it never changed. It was always the same. Always Luke 2:1-20, KJV.
As the years unfolded, I, fortunately, was eventually assigned every verse of that story. I can’t say that I had them in sequential order through the years, but I had them all at one time or another. I guess you could say that I had memorized the whole thing. Whether I could say it all at once was another question.
Through college and seminary I heard and read Luke 2 every year, but never was required to produce it from memory, so I never tried. Then, sometime after becoming a pastor, I realized that I probably could stand before the congregation on Christmas Eve, and, much as I did a long time ago, recite Luke 2, the Christmas Story. So, that has been my custom every year in our Christmas Eve Candlelight Communion Services.
I love to tell the story. Let me recite my “piece” to you right now:
1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. 2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) 3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) 5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. 6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. 8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field , keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. 15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. 16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. 17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. 18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these things , and pondered them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.
Fortunately, my Christmas ”piece” is our Christmas peace! Merry Christmas!
Kollmeyer is Pastor of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church on Hwy. 314 in Fayetteville, between Lowe’s and The Pavilion. He invites anyone without a church right now, or anyone “seeking God” to come to Sunday worship at 9:15 (Contemporary), or 11:15 (Pipe Organ). “Classes” for all are at 10:20. For more information log on at www.princeofpeacefayette.com or call 770-461-3403. Christmas Eve Candlelight Services are at 4, 7, 9, and 11 p.m. Everyone welcome!