As the sun goes down on a last minute, hectic sort of day in preparation and anticipation of Christmas, the stillness of Christmas Eve can be mesmerizing. Lighted decorations flicker on through the neighborhood at dusk. The grand music from Handel’s “Messiah” replaces “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer” on the radio. The reverence of this night begins to envelope us and the peace that follows comforts us. As the night sky unfolds, one by one, the stars above begin to twinkle overhead with an extra brilliance. I find myself looking to the east for that special star and wondering what it was like the night Jesus was born.
The real meaning of Christmas can be found, not in the decorations, the expectation of Santa’s arrival or the presents under the tree. God’s gift to us was His Son, Jesus, who came to this world so that we may live, that through His sacrifice on the cross, we should have everlasting life. There is so much about Jesus to learn. So much He wants to teach us. For years we read the poem, “’Twas the Night Before Christmas “ to our children on Christmas Eve. How I look back now and wish that we had focused more on the Birth of Jesus than we did the arrival of Santa Claus. Perhaps it is not too late to start a new tradition by adding the story of the Birth of Jesus to our Christmas Eve ritual.
Just to remind us again how it all began, here is the story of the birth of Jesus, as told by Luke.
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
"Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. –Luke 2:1-20 NIV
Merry Christmas to each of you and God’s Blessings to all