It’s Christmas Eve! Tonight we celebrate the birth of our Savior, Christ the Lord. This is truly a special time. Late this evening folks will meet at the church I serve for a candlelight Christmas Eve service. We will gather in a beautiful, warm and safe sanctuary to remember the events of the first Christmas but the fact that we will be in a “beautiful, warm and safe sanctuary” will stand in quite a contrast to what Mary and Joseph experienced long ago. I doubt if the place where Jesus was born was any of these things.
The stable in Bethlehem may have been little more than a small cave. There would likely have been more animals (domestic and wild) present for Jesus’ birth than persons. The one who created the world would take his first breath surrounded by all that he made—the animals, the hay, the stars above. Trees would have made possible the manger he was placed in and it would have been nature, too, that provided the material for his “swaddling clothes.” Mary and Joseph were not the only ones to welcome the world’s Savoir, Creation embraced him as well. That would be only fitting for as the apostle Paul later wrote, “all things were created by him and for him.” (Colossians 1:16)
As humans, we are included in Paul’s “all things.” We, too, were created by Christ and for Christ. His coming into the world opened a way by which we might enter into a personal relationship with the Maker of heaven and earth. It is for this very reason we celebrate Christmas. This night truly is different; it is a “holy night.”
I’d like to close this Christmas blog with the words of Christina Rossetti’s carol, In the Bleak Mid-Winter: “What can I give Him, poor as I am? If I were a shepherd I would bring a lamb; if I were a wise man I would do my part; yet what can I give Him; give my heart.”
(I used the image above on this year’s Christmas card. It was taken at Breaks Interstate Park, about 35 miles from my home.)