This special ‘eve’ning is filled with expectation – and stereotypically, frantic, last-minute preparations. The longstanding joke is that parents would be up all night, assembling gifts. Or the chef in the house would be checking and double checking that all the ingredients for tomorrow’s big feast were in place, the pots and pans were at the ready, the table was set, the candles were placed, the house was as clean as it was going to get, everyone’s best clothes were clean and ironed and set out, the dog was bathed, and on and on. Hectic, yes, tiring, for sure, but this night of nights merits this additional attention to detail. It’s a contented fatigue, a satisfying fatigue, even a joy-filled fatigue.
For many, this evening includes a Candlelight Service at church (sometimes at midnight) and/or a gathering of family or friends for a unique, yearly get together, with special food and drink and something traditional to mark the occasion. Growing up, our Dutch, next door neighbors decorated their Christmas tree, complete with real candles, only after the kids went to bed that night. When the young members of the family came down the next morning, to their immense joy, there was the tree, now aglow and beautiful!
Regardless of the much or the little of your activities this night, I encourage you to add a special touch, something that marks it as being more than ordinary, something that sets it apart from all the other ‘nights before’ throughout the year. It may include lighting a bunch of candles, reading the Christmas Story, enjoying a special meal, a neighborhood walk, or taking a drive, everyone in PJ’s, to look at Christmas light displays. Add your individual touch to make your 24th evening a standout. In all honesty, I don’t think anything we do this evening will match a huge, angelic choir lighting up the night sky and loudly proclaiming a sorely needed message (then, as now!) of peace and good will to the sons of men, but then again . . .
The Incarnation, God’s choosing to become a man to more effectively issue His invitation to the Wedding Banquet. The Word becoming flesh and blood and moving into the neighborhood. Unheard of! Unrivaled!! Scandalous!!! The breaking through of the Kingdom of Heaven on the earth! The arrival of hope, peace, joy and love, powerful enough to radically transform lives – ours included. The launch of a celebration of epic proportions with endless repercussions. Love’s completion of the law with its sacrifices and unattainable demands. A true grace explosion. The harbinger of the undoing of man’s power structures and injustices and inhumanities to man. All this, at the birth of an infant destined to be called: Wonderful Counselor! Mighty God! Everlasting Father! Prince of Peace! Emmanuel! Son of God! Son of Man! Messiah! Redeemer! Lord! Abba! Friend of sinners! Friend of you and me!
A Blessed Christmas celebration to you and yours, Don & Sue
Lights – whether from electric strings on trees or bannisters or eaves of houses, or from candles on tables and mantels and wall sconces, are symbolic of the spiritual ‘light’ given us in Jesus.
Gifts – from the wealth of love and appreciation and friendship, we offer various gifts to one another on this day, reflecting the indescribable gift given us in Jesus.
Bows and other gift decorations – unnecessary, even superfluous, but they speak of the ‘beyond all that we could ask or imagine’ abundance that has been given us in Jesus.
Gathering – this joy-filled occasion of sharing love and friendship with fun and laughter in a setting of belonging and safety and family, celebrates our oneness in Jesus, all because of Jesus.
Christmas Dinner – this sumptuous, once a year feast, with all its special additions and décor and attention to detail, is a great, forward-looking event, filled with hopeful longing, for the Wedding Feast of the Lamb to which we are invited because of Jesus.