The Stars Were Brightly Shining

The course of history can change through what initially seems like ordinary events.

Chapter 2 of the Gospel of Luke tells the story of the birth of a child two millennia ago.

The birth of any child is wondrous. Yet this was an extraordinarily special birth of an extraordinarily special child.

It occurred in a region of the world with many wealthy, powerful families. Yet this birth didn’t occur in a wealthy or powerful family.

It occurred in a region where humanity had built grand structures. Yet this birth occurred in no grand structure.

This birth came to a couple in modest circumstances: “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.”

It may have looked like an ordinary night in Bethlehem: “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.”

But this was no ordinary night: “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. And the angel said unto them, ‘Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.'”

All of Christendom relates to this holy night when, in the words of one song, the stars were brightly shining. In this and many other respects, one couple is like many throughout history.

Long-married couples will recall that the first grand compromise of a marriage can be the wedding and the reception.

This couple chose the Fourth Day of Christmas – Dec. 28 – in 2019 as their wedding day.

For the Epistle, the bride selected 1 Corinthians 12:31 to 13:13 from the English Standard Version, because, in her words, “love is the greatest gift she has received in her life and the greatest gift she will ever give.”

Those who know her understand how great the gift of her love is.

For the Gospel, the groom selected Luke 2:1-14 from the King James Version, because, in his words, “we do not get Easter without Christmas, and because Luke 2:11 is among the greatest events in history.”

With both the bride and the groom drawing on their own strengths and abilities, they – like many couples – were able to appreciate the day they together had created.

The couple could, for example, immediately appreciate the first part of the blessing following the vows: “The Lord God, who created our first parents and established them in marriage, establish and sustain you … .”

But with neither the bride nor the groom having previously been married, neither could fully appreciate what the rest of that sentence meant: “that you may find delight in each other and grow in holy love until your life’s end.”

Long-married couples will understand such words from a marriage-sanctifying wedding are way more than words from the Lutheran Book of Worship. They can come to life.

The ultimate source of this delight and this holy love for all of Christendom is the one whose birth is celebrated at Christmas.

It’s the one whose birth Luke 2:11 announces: “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”

It’s the birth that perhaps more than any other changed the course of history.

On a lighter historical note: The wedding was in Jamestown, and on Dec. 28, 2019, it was sunny and 50 degrees. Looking forward to being proven wrong, the groom, who is from Jamestown, assured the bride, who is from Los Angeles, they’d never celebrate an anniversary like that.

Dr. Randy Elf and the former Miss Hilary Kurtz were married (#KurtzElfWedding) on Dec. 28, 2019, in First Lutheran Church in Jamestown.



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