Christmas is a high and holy day for every Christ follower, but I confess that the evening before holds special meaning to me. Our family tradition is to gather in our home for a meal and gift-giving before heading off to church together for candlelit worship. The gifts are under our tree for a reason, each carefully chosen to give shape to the unseen bond that connects our hearts year ‘round. More than once tonight my eyes will moisten and I’ll be forced to turn away to prevent embarrassing myself. It could be due to my advancing years, but something moves me in my deepest unexplored parts when a child I love erupts in gleeful surprise as she or he discovers what lies beneath the colorful tissue and glitter laden ribbons. I enjoying witnessing those I love entranced and exuberant without restraint, but something transpires within me as well that I welcome like water to a desert-bound wanderer. In a few moments that honestly pass far too quickly to take it all in, I flashback to innocence and new beginnings feel within reach once again. Christmas is for children; we are celebrating the Christ-child, after all. The beautiful thing is that in the anticipation of the holy day, I return to childlike innocence and find it possible to once again believe that God may just enact a miracle within me as well as in the manger.
“It is impossible to conceive how different things would have turned out if that birth had not happened whenever, wherever, however it did … for millions of people who have lived since, the birth of Jesus made possible not just a new way of understanding life but a new way of living it. It is a truth that, for twenty centuries, there have been untold numbers of men and women who, in untold numbers of ways, have been so grasped by the child who was born, so caught up in the message he taught and the life he lived, that they have found themselves profoundly changed by their relationship with him” (Frederick Buechner).