Sunday’s Scripture ~ Psalm 66:8-15.
The legend of the poinsettia comes from Mexico. It tells of a girl named Maria and her little brother Pablo. They were very poor but always looked forward to the Christmas festival. Each year a large manger scene was set up on the village church, and the days before Christmas were filled with parades and parties. The two children loved Christmas but were always saddened because they had no money to buy presents. They especially wished that they could give something to the church for the Baby Jesus. But they had nothing. On Christmas Eve, Maria and Pablo set out for church to attend the service. On their way the picked some weeds growing along the roadside and decided to take them as their gift to the Baby Jesus in the manger scene. Of course other children teased them when they arrived with their gift, but they said nothing for they knew they had given what they could. Maria and Pablo began placing the green plants around the manger and miraculously, the green top leaves turned into bright red petals, and soon the manger was surrounded by beautiful star-like flowers and so we see them today.
Most Christmas greenery reflects European traditions. But one colorful plant, which looks like a flaming star, the poinsettia, is a native to the American continent. It was named after Dr. Joel Robert Poinset, an ambassador to Mexico who first introduced it to the United States in 1828. The people of Mexico and Central America call the brilliant tropical plant the “Flower of the Holy Night.” The poinsettia is a many-pointed star that has become a symbol of the Star of Bethlehem.
This week poinsettias that were given in celebration, honor, and/or memory of loved ones will be placed in the Sanctuary. We look forward to how they will enhance our worship this coming Sunday and on Christmas Eve. We invite patrons of the poinsettias to take home their poinsettias following Christmas Eve Worship.
It is my hope that as the poinsettias depart the South Shore campus and move to individual homes that these flowers will become conversation starters to continue telling the Christmas story – that these flowers would be opportunities to share the legend of the poinsettia and engage our family and guests at Christmas in exploring what offering we made, are making, or could make to the Christ Child.
Friends, every gift is important. Every gift is worthy. Every giver is important and worthy! Telling this truth is one of the greatest gifts we can share during the Advent and Christmas seasons.
Prayer: “O come, thou Dayspring, come and cheer our spirits by thy justice here; disperse the gloomy clouds of night, and death’s dark shadows put to flight. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.”* Amen.
*”O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” The United Methodist Hymnal 211.