Christmas eve. Such a meaningful couple of hours in the lives of Christians all around the world. Many of us will instinctively recall the words and pictures of Clement Moore’s 1823 account of the legendary red-suited, right jolly old elf’s arrival upon a moonlight drenched rooftop with “a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer.”Terpning_Twas the Night Before Christmas

It’s a night for midnight Mass, for bell choirs, candles and expressions of “Peace on earth, good will to men” to friend and stranger alike. It’s a time for family traditions, sharing with relatives come to town for holiday cheer and the making of memories for young and old alike. The presents are wrapped, under the tree, shaken once or twice to guess the possible contents. Eggnog and poinsettias abound. Churches are full, at least for one hour out of the year. The neighborhood is aglow with over-lighted scenes of mangers and snowmen.

And yet, some will struggle with finding joy this night. Some are in hospice. There are sons and daughters unselfishly serving our country in far flung places around the world, alone with a heart longing to be home for the holidays. The poor, the desperate, the homeless. We know they are out there, without access to that banquet table full of life’s blessings we so often take for granted.

This is what I want for Christmas, and what I wish for you: can we somehow all join hands and hearts together, all of us, united in a common bond of a humanity so in need of hope, in need of rescue from darkness and most of all, from ourselves? Can we just leave behind our busyness and come together in one humble spirit, at Bethlehem, where it all started? To see the love of God expressed in a baby’s flesh – Emmanuel, God with us. Jesus. His proper Hebrew name Yeshua means “salvation.” That quite simply expresses exactly who He is and why He came – to save sinners like me. This precious newborn babe, wrapped up in swaddling clothes, held so sweetly in His loving mother’s arms would ultimately breathe His last, held to the arms of the cross by the sins of the world, naked and forsaken by all. What a gift! The first gift of Christmas is Christ Himself.

Our best Christmas yet can be realized this very night, this silent and holy night, so I say let us adore Him,
O come let us adore Him,
O come let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord!

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