Christmas Eve is filled with anticipation. We each hold our own store of memories. There is a sense of hope and the promise of good news. As seasons go Advent has been the darkest time of the year, and the darkness of our world lies heavy on our hearts. We think of those displaced and separated, suffering in wars not of their choosing, and we realize how important the familiar rituals are. Together we wait in expectation for light to come. In spite of all that is happening, this is a season of hope. We greet one another and offer wishes for one another’s happiness, and, for this time, we are aware that in reality we are all one. In this graced time, once again we look toward Christmas with joy and trust in “God with us.”
Reflect on the feelings and symbols of Christmas and probe their meaning for you. How can you keep them meaningful this year?
But when the fullness of the time came, God sent Jesus, born of a woman, born under the Law.
Galatians 4:4 For the grace of God has appeared, saving all and training us to reject godless ways and worldly desires and to live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age, as we await the blessed hope, the appearance of the glory of the great God and of our savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to deliver us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for himself a peopleas his own, eager to do what is good.
Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son… He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.
If God gives us the gift of Christmas it is because we all have the ability to understand and receive it.
In the midst of our winter darkness, the midnight service on Christmas Eve celebrates Jesus, the light in our darkness, the light of the world who shines in our heart. We sing, “Let every heart prepare him room”. The Christian life is about a new heart, an open heart, a heart of flesh, a heart of compassion. The Christian life is about the Spirit of God opening our hearts.
We desire to be able to welcome Jesus at Christmas time not in a cold manger of our heart but in a heart full of love and humility, in a heart so pure and so warm with love for one another.
Mother Teresa of Calcutta
In night’s deep silence,
Clear a voice rings through
Rise up, ye shepherds,
God is born to you:
Quickly now and go ye over.
Seek where Bethlehem
star does hover
Haste to greet your Lord.
The people in darkness have seen a great light
For a child has been born his dominion is wide.
For who has known the mind of God
To God be glory forever.
Gentle Night CD
The Christmas story will always be the story of God here with us in the ordinary, the everyday, the chaos, the shabbiness of a stable, the flight into exile, the love between a man and a woman, the birth of a child and of people despised because of their lowly social status.