Christmas DayAdvent has been a time of waiting, of dreaming, of healing, and of promise. It is finally time for our preparation to be over as we celebrate the birth of Jesus.
Each week we lit another candle on our Advent wreath. First we lit the candle of the Prophets, which stands for Hope. The following week, we lit the candle of the Shepherds, which stands for Peace. The third week, we lit the Mary candle, the light of Joy. At last, we lit the Joseph candle, which stands for Love.
Each week the light grows a little more, pushing the darkness farther and farther away into the quiet of the winter evening. Tonight, finally, the Light of Christ, the fifth candle, is lit. It signifies banishing the darkness forever as we enter the world illuminated as God has re-imagined it in its perfect state.
We celebrate! Here in the midst of winter we are reminded that God's love is shown in a most wonderful way-the birth of a child, the one who reminds us of the fullness of God's love for us.
The Birth of Jesus1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.
4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
Thank you for journeying here through Advent together; as we light the Christ candle may we all be grateful for times of quiet, times of stillness, and times of preparation. I pray that we all know the blessings of love and joy, peace and hope, and healing.
May we experience the presence of Emmanuel, God with us, this day and always.
Grace and peace for your journey!