Day 24: Christmas Day
“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 guest room available for them.” (Luke 2:6-7)
The distance between expectations and reality is often one of the greatest strains on us as people. When our expected hopes never arrive we can easily descend into frustration or disillusionment. “What happens to a dream deferred?”, Langston Hughes asks in his famous poem, “Harlem,” about unrealized equality. The final lines summarize one aspect of that angst-filled reality: “Maybe it just sags / like a heavy load. / Or does it explode?” Endless anticipation that is never realized tumbles from the high peaks of hope into the chasms of hopelessness.
Yet when our anticipated hopes do arrive it is like the ash of glorious sunlight across the mountain peaks. It is like drinking a glass of clear, cool water on a hot, humid day. In the depths of our being we rise up into that realized hope and say: “Yes! Finally! This is what I have been waiting for!”
The birth of Jesus is not only the culmination of our Advent journey, but also the realization of all our greatest longings as human beings. In the words of the old hymn, “O Little Town of Bethlehem”: “the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.” Jesus arrives, bringing the peace of God Isaiah prophesied, the hope of God that Elizabeth tasted, the joy of God John the Baptist preached about, and the love of God that Mary felt deep within her.
Jesus, “the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15), “who was with God in the beginning” (John 1:2), is now
nestled in the warm esh and solid bone of humanity at His birth in Bethlehem. God has done it! Our dreams are no longer deferred but met in Him here and now. God has drawn near and the wonder of this moment invites us into awe-filled wonder and worship again. So, let us do that today. Let us join our voices with the women and men of God throughout all the ages to speak praise from the depths of our soul to Jesus, our infant king:
O come, let us adore Him!
O come, let us adore Him!
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord!
- How has your life with God been dierent from you thought it to be?
- What has been the greatest part of knowing you are loved by God, loved by Him so much that He sent His very own son to die in your place?
A Prayer for Christmas Day (from the Revised Common Lectionary):
God of glory,
your splendor shines from a manger in Bethlehem,
where the Light of the world is humbly born
into the darkness of human night.
Open our eyes to Christ’s presence in the shadows of our world,
so that we, like him, may become beacons of your justice,
and defenders of all for whom there is no room. Amen.
Use these “Family Talk” sections each week with younger children
Do you remember when you rst brought home your Advent wreath? You looked at the four unlit candles, and thought: “Four weeks until Christmas? That’s so l-o-n-g!” Look at the candles now. The first candle is really small, isn’t it? It must be the right time for Christmas!
Four weeks can feel like a long time, but do you know how long God’s people waited for Jesus to come? Isaiah told the people about God’s promise of a Rescuer (Jesus) about 700 years before Jesus was born! (And, God actually promised a Rescuer long before that—during Adam and Eve’s time.) That means that some people lived their whole lives hearing about a Rescuer, but never seeing Him.
But, God never forgot His promise. He wasn’t being slow, or putting things o. He knew the right time—the time when the world was ready, and everything was in place: a time when the king made orders that meant Joseph and Mary had to travel to Bethlehem, a time when the wise men had been watching for the special star so they could come to worship Him.
For us, as “people of Advent”, now is the right time to celebrate! Jesus has come, and He is the answer to a promise, and the answer to all of our hopes and dreams!
✦Nativity Building: Place the shepherds near the stable. The angel told them that the Savior had been born! They believed, and they were the rst to see Jesus and to tell others about Him!