Alegria en la Buena Noche: and a Blessed Christmas to All

In Latin cultures Christmas Eve is called the Good Night, La Buena Noche. When my dear friend Nancy Echevarria was alive she invited us to a Buena Noche at her home. There was singing and guitar playing, tamales and special food and the exchange of gifts. It was a wonderful, joyful time. We were delighted to become a part of a Puerto Rican Christmas Eve. We also recall from childhood  all of the wonderful Christmas Eve’s and Christmas mornings that we have had. Some of this remembering is with tears, for it will be no more , at least here. Nancy died in her early fifties in a diabetic coma, a few years after complications of  stomach surgery for her totally unstable diabetes. Her life was full of joy and pain. She was one of my Masters of Social Work students and she was homeless as she began her MSW studies far away from her native Puerto Rico in Connecticut. She was brilliant and yet struggled with much. She cared for her mother, dear Miriam, as she was an only child and then for her twin daughters, Shayra and Mia who have survived her. I miss my dear friend, her joy and her sadness, her brilliance and her struggles. Most of all I miss her strong witness to the Christ of Christmas. She also became a Pastor and was active in her church. She had a beautiful voice and I think I can hear her singing when I step outside and see the stars hovering over my house as they hovered over Bethlehem. There she is singing and so are all of those,my family members, Mother, Grandma, Uncles, Aunts, Cousins and friends like family whom I miss very much tonight. But here also are those I am privileged to be with and share Christmas with, some, thankfully here, and some not right here, but close in heart. Thank God for all of you. And most of all, thank God for the Christ-child who changes everything, who restores love, and justice, and each of us, if we make room for him as the poem below says.

For all who miss someone tonight, especially my friend/sister Barbara who just lost her beloved husband John on December 2oth after a long struggle with cancer, and for my childhood friend Judy H. who lost her Mom and brother both this year. May special comfort and peace be with them tonight. And for all who love the Christ of Christmas, I want to share a beautiful poem by Susan (Elli) Elliot. It describes this night and Christmas so well.  Be surrounded by God’s love tonight.

Christmas Eve Prayer by Dr. Susan (Elli)Elliot     Source:

Fragile God, born in the night –
We listen in the clarity of the cold night air.
We hear the hoofs clopping in the dust,
a man’s soft voice reassuring a tired woman.
We hear his voice inquiring,
“Is there room?”
“Is there room for us?”
Fragile God, born in the night –
We know the story.
We know that you are coming.
“Is there room?”
“Is there room for you?”
Fragile God, born in the night –
We see the shadowy figures finding the stable.
“There is no room.”
We see the man preparing a place in the hay.
He makes room.
We see the woman moving heavily,
The hours of labor, the sweat, the tears, the cries,
the moans, the crushing grip of the hands.
We hear the insistent cry of the child wail out, born at last!
“Make room!”
“Make room for me!”
Fragile God, born in the night –
We hear your cry.
We hear from the hills and the pastures,
your cry as a newborn child ringing out in the still air,
your cry echoed
in the thunderous announcement from the skies.
We see you in the manger.
We travel across the miles to see,
your glory as a newborn child lying in a manger,
your glory reflected in the star we follow.
Fragile God, born in the night –
We have room for you.
We are poor scruffy shepherds and elegant educated kings.
We are servers in restaurants and CEO’s of giant corporations.
We are villagers hauling water for our families from distant wells.
We are neurosurgeons holding life in our well-trained hands.
We are survivors of immense disasters struggling to rebuild lost lives.
We are young children entranced with the glitter and mystery
in the candle light of this night.
We are old grown-ups filled with the emotion
of accumulated Christmas nights.
We are members of big families joyfully reunited tonight,
harried with preparations and seating arrangements for dinner,
but glad to be catching up.
We are individuals alone,
especially aware of the absence of family members,
family living far away,
family taken by death,
family from whom we are estranged,
family we never had,
— children we never had.
We are all these and more,
all of us aware tonight of the fullness of time,
of year following year,
another Christmas full of all the Christmases of the years,
of hearts filled with hearts,
Christmases full of all the people we love and who love us.
This time is very, very full for each of us –
yet we have room for you.
We come to your manger, each of us, in the stillness of this night,
Here we know our profound powerlessness,
and here you are –
a fragile powerless newborn,
yet the newborn child in whom we recognize the ruler of the universe.
We hear your newborn cry, the cry we have been waiting for –
“Make room! Make room for me!”
Fragile God, born in the night –
Meet us here at your manger.
Meet us as a newborn child meets new parents,
come to change our lives forever.
Meet us as the newborn
who insists that we make room for you,
who requires that we reorder our lives to pay attention to you,
who demands that we be re-centered on the very center of life.


Have a Blessed Christmas! Buon Natale! Buena Buena Noche y Feliz Navidad!

Rev. Dr. Judy Lee, RCWP


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