Christmas Eve. The older I get, the more I have learned to appreciate and savor this one day out of the entire year. I don’t know what it is, but Christmas Eve now that I am married and a minister has so much more poignancy than it ever had as a child. As a child, I would wish the day to speed past so that I could get to the best part – the presents.
And yet, I cannot remember a sunny Christmas Eve. For some reason, I associate it with a cloudy, crisp day with a subtle sense of tension. It’s as if nature itself is bracing for some strange, mysterious event. I love getting out into the thick of Gunbarrel Road (the main road leading to the big mall in Chattanooga and many other retail stores) sometime during the day. Why, you ask? Well, most of my Christmas gifts are bought well before that day, so what might possess me? I guess a sense of curiosity, to go out and see if anyone else feels the strange tension, and the collective tension of an entire city scurrying to and fro preparing for a climactic event.
Christmas Eve, instead of being the peaceful day we sing about in songs and carols, seems to me a mad rush headlong into the unknown. Honestly, I think that holy night was very much the same way. An intense session of birthing labor burdened with a frustrating lack of adequate housing. Two people seemingly alone save for the Almighty God’s presence gathered around them and growing inside Mary. A town full of people, even family is booked and full. Humble acceptance of poverty mingled with the earthy smell of animal lodging. Finally, the climax, a scream from a newborn baby boy, the savior, the Earth suddenly stills itself in awe of this new thing: Deity and humanity wrapped into one tiny child.
Just like the past few years, I am looking forward to Christmas Eve. I am anticipating the energy, madness, and the calm, the underlying peace that weighs upon each soul as the reminder that God has shared our human burdens dawns with the morning.
Consider looking around you today at what needs may be met. Just because our Lord spent his first night in poverty does not mean that others need do the same. Give away this Christmas season, not just to family, but to others. We have a joy unmatched by mere human expectation, and it should overflow into our generosity! Anticipate the birth! Expect the unexpected! Have a wonderful Christmas! And most importantly, meet a need that you see!
*Edited from one of my articles originally published December 2013.