I am sitting reflecting on the Christmas story today. The different people. The actors in the story of the birth of the Christ child. Their roles and reactions to what was happening in and around them that first Christmas Eve. Unfortunately, my musings leave me with more questions than answers, but they also bring me into the truth and the reality of that night 2000 years ago.
There is a man, Joseph, concerned for his wife-to-be. Full-term pregnancy, travelling, not knowing when the baby will come and in awe of being a parent to this miraculous child that was born.
Then there is Mary. In awe and wonder of what she has experienced, the angel Gabriel, the miraculous birth of the Messiah, the visit of the shepherds. And also the fear and trembling and rejoicing. She, meek, mild Mary is chosen to bear this child, to rear this child, to raise this child up in the way He is to go so that He will never depart from it. What will her future hold, and this child’s? Why should she be so blessed? How could she possibly comprehend this miracle of joy and love that lay in her arms, in swaddling clothes in the dark of night?
And the shepherds? Were there children? Women? Men? What would it have been like for the night sky to suddenly shine like the day as an angel spoke and heavenly hosts appeared singing praises to God? What did they do in their terror and awe? What did they feel when suddenly the sky went dark at the departing of the angels? Was there a long moment of silence? Did they all start talking at once? What a miraculous, awe-inspiring, terrifying, amazing, seemingly impossible experience yet foretold for many generations!
And this child. The Peace Child, the Messiah, the Word of Life and Light, Mighty Counsellor, Almighty God, Saviour of the world. In the arms of teenage (or possibly even pre-teen) girl-child. The Beginning and the End, here in the in-between in the flesh.
Is that word enough? Could any word be enough, or any song, or any posture of thanks? This is the night that we celebrate. A night of miracles. A night of rejoicing and awe and trembling and joy and wondering. This is a night when I take everything from this past year…all the joy and the sorrow, the rejoicing, and the despair, the anxieties and the hopeful longing, and I spread it out before the One who can take it all.
The wrapped parcels and packages beneath my Christmas tree don’t hold hope or peace or joy. They can’t fulfill in me what I am most in need of this Advent season. But there is a Christ-child that can. As you reflect through Advent and celebrate Christmas this year, remember the night of miracles that made all of this possible. Remember the love that God poured out on his people that He would send His Son to become human, to feel our hurt, pain, sorrow, temptations, grief, loss, undoing…and would send His Son to take our place. That. That is what Christmas Eve is. A night of sacrifice. God the Father gave a piece of Himself to us in Christ. And so amidst the “everything” of this year and this season and this specific point in time, I choose in this moment to be still before the majesty of a God that holds the whole world in His hands yet had the audacity to keep the promise that was, before time, His own Son, the Messiah.
“A Saviour has been born to us today in the town of David, and His name is Christ Jesus, the Lord!” Luke 2:11