The event of Christ is the only event in human history that promises relocation and centering, meaning and purpose. This promise and its fulfillment evoke passionate and heartfelt praise and thanks, especially for those aware of their own brokenness and the healing which Christ brings into their lives.
I think we’re going to have an exceptionally good Christmas. The very fact that outward circumstance precludes our making provision for it will show whether we can be content with what is truly essential. I used to be very fond of thinking up and buying presents, but now that we have nothing to give, the gift God gave us in the birth of Christ will seem all the more glorious … The poorer our quarters, the more clearly we perceive that our hearts should be Christ’s home on earth.(written to his fiancee from his prison cell, arrested for defying the Nazi regime)
One of the essential paradoxes of Advent: that while we wait for God, we are with God all along ,that while we need to be reassured of God’s arrival, or the arrival of our homecoming, we are already at home. While we wait, we have to trust, to have faith, but it is God’s grace that gives us that faith. As with all spiritual knowledge, two things are true, and equally true, at once. The mind can’t grasp paradox; it is the knowledge of the soul.
If the tender yearning is gone from the advent hope today, there must be a reason for it; and I think I know what it is, or what they are, for there are a number of them. One is simply that popular fundamentalist theology has emphasized the utility of the cross rather than the beauty of the one who died on it. The saved man's relation to Christ has been made contractual instead of personal. The "work" of Christ has been stressed until it has eclipsed the person of Christ. Substitution has been allowed to supersede identification. What he did for me seems to be more important than what He is to me. Redemption is seen as an across-the-counter transaction which we "accept", and the whole thing lacks emotional content. We must love someone very much to stay awake and long for his coming, and that may explain the absence of power in the advent hope even among those who still believe in it.
Thanks be to God for his unspeakable Gift— indescribable, inestimable, incomparable inexpressible - precious beyond words.
"What self denial! What self abasement! What self emptying! He, whom no infinitudes can hold, is contained within infant’s age, and infant’s form. Can it be, that the great ‘I AM THAT I AM’ shrinks into our flesh?"
It is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty founder was a child himself.
Eternal God, this holy night is radiant with the brilliance of your one true light. May that light illuminate our hearts and shine in our words and deeds. May the hope, the peace, the joy, and the love represented by the birth in Bethlehem this night fill our lives and become part of all that we say and do. May we share the divine life of your son Jesus Christ, even as he humbled himself to share our humanity. Amen.
Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
In spite of the many benefits God has blessed us with, how many times do we complain about little difficulties and trials? We lose sight of the big picture and fail to appreciate the really important things. Just as we cannot benefit from a wrapped gift under a Christmas tree until we open it, so gratitude can be seen as our way of opening the gift of God's love intended by all the small and big positive events of our lives.
Ronda De Sola Chervin
As we prepare for our traditional celebrations, let us remember those who will not be looking forward to this festival. Let us remember too how Jesus identified with the oppressed and the homeless. Let the joy of the festival touch more of the people of our world this year than ever before. May God be glorified and may people of good will once again experience His peace.
For the Christ-child who comes is the Master of all; No palace too great, no cottage too small.
Often times when we think of becoming a Christian, we think of what it is doing for us – that we are reconciling in our relationship with our creator that we are having our sins forgiven, that we are being saved... I think that the call to receive Christ is more like Gabriel’s visit to Mary where he asks us, will you carry the Christ, will you carry the salvation of the world?
The way to Christmas lies through an ancient gate....It is a little gate, child-high, child-wide, and there is a password: "Peace on earth to men of good will." May you, this Christmas, become as a little child again and enter into His kingdom.
O Christmas Sun! What holy task is thine! To fold a world in the embrace of God!
Guy Wetmore Carryl
The greatest gift you will ever receive will never be found under a Christmas tree. It is far too valuable to be stored in any other place but in the depths of your heart.
Christmas has lost its meaning for us because we have lost the spirit of expectancy. We cannot prepare for an observance. We must prepare for an experience.
During this Advent season as we celebrate the new relationship between God and his people, may that be mirrored in our renewed relationships with spouses, children, family and those near and dear to us. May we speak tenderly to each other amidst all the rush of the season and transform the shopping days till Christmas into the true Advent of Christ.
In the same manner in which we clean and prepare our homes in the anticipation of welcomed guests and family members this Christmas season, let us also prepare our hearts in anticipation of the Lord's coming. Christ, our most honoured and eagerly anticipated guest, desires to meet with us in a heart prepared for his arrival. So eager is he to meet with us that he offers to help us with our spiritual housecleaning, working with us; creating a resting place for Himself within our hearts.
The most glorious promises of God are generally fulfilled in such a wondrous manner that He steps forth to save us at a time when there is the least appearance of it.
C. H. von Bogatzy
During Advent opportunities for works of charity abound calling out for Christians from every side: a sack of food for a needy family, money dropped in a Salvation Army kettle, a donation to an Indian school, a toy for 'Toys-for-Tots,' etc. Unfortunately, these works of charity so easily can assuage the Christian conscience, while doing nothing to being about a solution to the root causes of the problem.
Commercialization has obscured the meaning of Christmas. The commercial has become more important than the carol. What man has to sell more important than what God has given.
The spirit of Christmas needs to superseded by the Spirit of Christ. The spirit of Christmas is annual; the Spirit of Christ is eternal. The spirit of Christmas is sentimental; the Spirit of Christ is supernatural. The spirit of Christmas is a human product; the Spirit of Christ is a divine person. That makes all the difference in the world.
When the song of the angels is stilled,
when the star in the sky is gone,
when the kings and princes are home,
when the shepherds are back with the flocks,
then the work of Christmas begins:
to find the lost,
to heal those broken in spirit,
to feed the hungry,
to release the oppressed,
to rebuild the nations,
to bring peace among all peoples,
to make a little music with the heart…
And to radiate the Light of Christ,
every day, in every way, in all that we do and in all that we say.
Then the work of Christmas begins.
This is Christmas: not the tinsel, not the giving and receiving, not even the carols, but the humble heart that receives anew the wondrous gift, the Christ.
Let's approach Christmas with an expectant hush, rather than a last-minute rush.
I believe in Jesus Christ and in the beauty of the gospel begun in Bethlehem.
I believe in the one whose spirit glorified a little town; and whose spirit still brings music to persons all over the world, in towns both large and small.
I believe in the one for whom the crowded inn could find no room, and I confess that my heart still sometimes wants to exclude Christ from my life today.
I believe in the one who the rulers of the earth ignored and the proud could never understand; whose life was among common people, whose welcome came from persons of hungry hearts.
I believe in the one who proclaimed the love of God to be invincible:
I believe in the one whose cradle was a mother's arms, whose modest home in Nazareth had love for its only wealth, who looked at persons and made them see what God's love saw in them, who by love brought sinners back to purity, and lifted human weakness up to meet the strength of God.
I confess my ever-lasting need of God: The need of forgiveness for our selfishness and greed, the need of new life for empty souls, the need of love for hearts grown cold.
I believe in God who gives us the best of himself. I believe in Jesus, the son of the living God, born in Bethlehem this night, for me and for the world.
If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it. If He had a wallet, your photo would be in it. He sends you flowers every spring and a sunrise every morning. Whenever you want to talk, He'll listen. He could live anywhere in the universe, and He chose your heart. What about the Christmas gift He sent you in Bethlehem; not to mention that Friday at Calvary.
Best of all, Christmas means a spirit of love, a time when the love of God and the love of our fellow men should prevail over all hatred and bitterness, a time when our thoughts and deeds and the spirit of our lives manifest the presence of God.
Late on a sleepy, star-spangled night, those angels peeled back the sky just like you would tear open a sparkling Christmas present. Then, with light and joy pouring out of Heaven like water through a broken dam, they began to shout and sing the message that baby Jesus had been born. The world had a Saviour! The angels called it "Good News," and it was.
Take time to be aware that in the very midst of our busy preparations for the celebration of Christ’s birth in ancient Bethlehem, Christ is reborn in the Bethlehems of our homes and daily lives. Take time, slow down, be still, be awake to the Divine Mystery that looks so common and so ordinary yet is wondrously present. An old abbot was fond of saying, "The devil is always the most active on the highest feast days." The supreme trick of Old Scratch is to have us so busy decorating, preparing food, practicing music and cleaning in preparation for the feast of Christmas that we actually miss the coming of Christ. Hurt feelings, anger, impatience, injured egos—the list of clouds that busyness creates to blind us to the birth can be long, but it is familiar to us all.
Immanuel will bring lasting, true peace. (Isa 7:14) Not just an end to physical war, although that is what we usually think of when we think of peace. No, this is a deeper peace. A peace between us and God. True reconciliation between the Creator and his creatures. Through Immanuel life for us and his death for us we will be at peace with God. This isn't our doing. We didn’t make the peace. We didn’t even take the first step. God did. Because that is God’s attitude toward us: always seeking, always restoring, always saving. Immanuel comes to show us that we matter, each and every one of us, to God. Jesus Christ, our Lord, and God's Son, is Immanuel – God with us. Jesus was born a child and lived among us, died our death on the cross, all so that we would have peace with God, from this time forth and forever more. The zeal of the Lord of Hosts has done this.
Charles P St-Onge
The church set aside this four-week pre-Christmas season as a time of spiritual preparation for Christ’s coming. It is a time of quiet anticipation. If Christ is going to come again into our hearts, there must be repentance. Without repentance, our hearts will be so full of worldly things that there will be ‘no room in the inn’ for Christ to be born again.…We have the joy not of celebration. Which is the joy of Christmas, but the joy of anticipation.
John R. Brokhoff
The birth of the Lord means peace on earth, but only for those "on whom his favour rests." Indeed, the Saviour's birth is a meaningless gesture by the appraisal of many persons. But for those people who receive Jesus as their personal Saviour and Lord, they find the peace that can only come from the favour or grace of God.
The Logos International Bible Commentary
Jesus, the Light of the World, as we celebrate your birth... may we begin to see the world in the light of understanding you give us. As you chose the lowly, the outcasts, and the poor to receive the greatest news the world had ever known, so may we worship you in meekness of heart. May we also remember our brothers and sisters less fortunate than ourselves in this season of giving. Amen.
Karen L. Oberst
The implications of the name "Immanuel" are both comforting and unsettling. Comforting, because He has come to share the danger as well as the drudgery of our everyday lives. He desires to weep with us and to wipe away our tears. And what seems most bizarre, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, longs to share in and to be the source of the laughter and the joy we all too rarely know.
Let us remember that the Christmas heart is a giving heart, a wide open heart that thinks of others first. The birth of the baby Jesus stands as the most significant event in all history, because it has meant the pouring into a sick world of the healing medicine of love which has transformed all manner of hearts for almost two thousand years... Underneath all the bulging bundles is this beating Christmas heart.
This is the month, and this the happy morn, Wherein the Son of Heaven's eternal King, Of wedded maid and virgin mother born, Our great redemption from above did bring, For so the holy sages once did sing, That He our deadly forfeit should release, And with His Father work us a perpetual peace.
Sometimes it seems as though we spend our lives waiting. Daydreaming about an upcoming vacation, worrying over a medical test, preparing for the birth of grandchild-our days are filled with anticipation and anxiety over what the future holds. As Christians, we too spend our lives waiting. But we are waiting for something much bigger than a trip, bigger even than retirement or a wedding: We are waiting for the return of Jesus in glory. Advent heightens this sense of waiting, because it marks not only our anticipation of Jesus' final coming, but also our remembrance of his arrival into our world more than 2,000 years ago.
For many of us, sadly, the spirit of Christmas is "hurry". And yet, eventually, the hour comes when the rushing ends and the race against the calendar mercifully comes to a close. It is only now perhaps that we truly recognize the spirit of Christmas. It is not a matter of days or weeks, but of centuries-nearly twenty of them now since that holy night in Bethlehem. Regarded in this manner, the pre-Christmas rush may do us greater service than we realize. With all its temporal confusion, it may just help us to see that by contrast, Christmas itself is eternal.
When Christ entered our world, he didn't come to brighten our Decembers, but to transform our lives.