Dear brothers and sisters,
All my heart this night rejoices
As I hear, far and near, sweetest angel voices.
“Christ is born,” their choirs are singing,
Till the air everywhere now with joy is ringing.
Paulus Gerhardt’s hymn – written in 1656, and still found in older hymnals – captures something of the joy of Christmastide. Our own praises at the Christmas Eucharist join the praises of the heavenly chorus as we sing of the Word Made Flesh. God’s greatest gift is to be born among us. Gazing into the manger, we behold the Master of the Universe, now enfleshed, a tiny, helpless child.
Hark! A voice from yonder manger
Soft and sweet, doth entreat, “Flee from woe and danger!
Brethren come! From all doth grieve you,
You are freed; all you need I will surely give you.”
On Christmas Jesus invites us to bring ourselves – our hopes and fears, our successes and failures – to the One who will experience all of life with us: its tragedies and triumphs, its yearnings and its betrayals, a life that encompassed death, a death that led to Life.
Come, then, let us hasten yonder!
Here let all, great and small, kneel in awe and wonder!
Love him who with love is yearning!
Hail the star that from far bright with hope is burning.
Perhaps it is kneeling in silence before the manger, contemplating the divine humility that would visit us in such a surprising and unexpected way, that we most profoundly experience the meaning of Christmas. Simply gaze at Jesus. “Lord, you came here – for me.”
Thee, dear Lord, with heed I’ll cherish;
Live to thee faithfully: Dying, never perish;
But abide in life eternal
Where with thee I shall be filled with joy supernal.
We begin and end with joy. It is not surprising that so many of our Christmas carols use the word or some variation. “Joy to the world, the Lord is come!” “Good Christian friends, rejoice!” “Joyful, all ye nations rise, join the triumph of the skies!” “God rest you merry, Gentlemen!” May your Christmas celebration be filled with joy unceasing, joy beyond words, joy that draws you into the very heart of Jesus.
Yours in Christ,