Our Bible verse for today: “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. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child … She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manager, because there was no room for them in the inn.” Luke 2:4-5; 7 (NIV)
Our thought for today: “Christmas Eve is a time of anticipation and preparation.”
Christmas Eve is one of the busiest travel days of the year as people go in cars, trains, and planes to see family and friends. Those of us at home eagerly wait for and anticipate the arrival of our friends and loved ones. Christmas Eve is also a time of eager anticipation for the joy of opening presents on Christmas morning. I’m sixty-four years old and I’m still a big kid on Christmas morning when it comes to giving and receiving presents.
But Christmas Eve should also (first, and primarily, and most importantly), be a time of eager anticipation and preparation as we celebrate the birth of Christ. After all, that’s what Christmas is really all about. Jesus really is the reason for the season.
To help us refocus and have a better appreciation for the significance of Christmas Eve, let’s think back to the original Christmas Eve and what it must have been like in heaven and on earth. Nine months earlier Jesus had voluntarily laid aside His power and His glory, descended to earth and placed Himself in the womb of a teenage girl, and had spent nine months growing just as any other fetus would. Now the birth was about to occur. All of heaven watched and waited in eager anticipation.
For Joseph and Mary it was also a time of anticipation and preparation. Mary was in labor. Her body ached, her back was killing her, and she was more uncomfortable than she had ever been in her life. The pains were shooting through her abdomen and she needed to lie down. Joseph was desperately trying to find a place for his wife to safely give birth. The inn was full.
I consider what was going-on on that first Christmas Eve with Jesus in the womb, the Father and angels watching from heaven, and Joseph and Mary on earth trying to prepare for the birth of their child – and suddenly my preoccupation with presents, guests, Christmas cookies and football games seems shallow and childish. I’ve lost my focus. I’m grateful for the presents; I look forward to having the family together; I love Christmas cookies; and all of those things do have their proper place in the Christmas celebration. But Christmas Eve is about so much more than that.
Tonight at Oak Hill Baptist Church will celebrate Christmas Eve with a short candlelight service beginning at 5:00. The lights in the sanctuary will be dimmed. Candles will be glowing. There will be Christmas music, a short Christmas Eve message, lighting of more candles, and we will end with singing “Joy to the World”. We would love to have you join us. Christmas Eve is a time of anticipation and preparation. It is a time to think about Jesus.