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Christmas Week: Luke 2:1-14


Click on the box above to hear Noche de Paz and Behold the Star

Monday, January 1
Professor Eric Wall

A text: Luke 2:1-14. Two songs: “Noche de paz” and “Behold the Star.”

And a television special, A Charlie Brown Christmas—perhaps as close to holy as anything television has ever done. Like Paul passing on what he receives, this episode passed Luke 2 on to many of us. At the moment when Linus recites the gospel story (“What Christmas is all about”), there are two details, small and powerful.

One detail is the absolute silence in which Linus walks to and from his place of proclamation—the center of the school auditorium stage. It’s amazingly artistic: comicstrip-simple animation and—crucially—silence. No sound effects for realism and no music dictating a mood—just Linus’s silent steps.

Another detail is that, before reciting Luke, Linus speaks into the space: “Lights, please.” Who is he talking to? Who hears? Who responds? Somebody does—somebody who seems to be waiting and ready for the moment when need arises, because other lights dim and one bright spotlight emerges for storytelling.

Lights, please. It is an Epiphany prayer; it is every Prayer for Illumination.

Two songs: Noche de paz (Santo Santo Santo 83) and Behold the Star (African American Heritage Hymnal 216). “Night of peace, night of love” sings the first—a silence of peace and love, like Linus’s silent and loving steps amid a throng of bullies. Behold the Star is a spiritual, arising from enslaved communities: “Behold the star up yonder: it is the star of Bethlehem.” Like other songs in the Advent-Christmas-Epiphany triptych, these songs sound within silence. They pray for peace. They imagine love.

Lights, please.

Brilla la estrella de paz—the star of love is shining.

Behold the star: it is the star of Bethlehem.