December 24, 2006

manger To me, Christmas Eve has always been way better than Christmas Day itself. For one thing, you always have those last-minute dashes and the expectations of spending Christmas surrounded by loved ones (even when you know those expectations will never be matched by the reality of the day). I’ve never minded that, because Christmas Eve to me was the holy day and Christmas itself dedicated to the more secular observances of the season.

While over the years Christmas Days have come and gone, leaving one to rely more and more on the ghosts of Christmas past to help frame the perspective one brings to the day, I’ve never tired of Christmas Eve. Every year it arrives, just as fresh and pure as the year and years before, for, unlike the day that follows it, there are usually few expectations associated with Christmas Eve. Only that, at any given hour between, say, 5 PM and midnight, you can walk into any church and hear the uncorrupted message of Divine Love and Hope as passed down through the ages. This message – the awesome mystery of God Incarnate, of God Made Man, is one both inherently and (pardon the pun) refreshingly fresh; because it can never be fully comprehended or even fully explained, it can never grow old or stale:

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David). To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. 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. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by 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. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, “Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.” And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them. (The Gospel of Luke 2:10-20)

It is a story I never tire of, nor either the day I have come to associate it with. In closing, here is a wonderful Christmas blessing I found on the internet, courtesy of one Helen Schick:

“May the peace and love of Jesus Christ
Go with you on your way,
And bless your home and loved ones
In spirit on Christmas Day.

“May the joy of God’s bright promise —
The Advent of His Son —
Live evermore within each heart
And comfort everyone.

“May the faith of old-time prophets
Be with you where you are,
And may the truth of God’s own Word
Remain your Christmas Star.”

Filed in: Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 01:14 | Comments (0)
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