A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks, a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees; O hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born!
Tonight, we are reminded that no pandemic, no economic crisis, no stressful #2020 craziness can ever change or compete with the breathtaking fact of Jesus.
Tonight, all over our weary world, people of every age, every color, every social status are coming before that baby in the manger. Perhaps looking for comfort, peace, answers, provision, healing or a better world in 2021 – or perhaps they are simply bowing in worship and thanksgiving. Maybe it is all of the above. But they are all coming before Him.
We are all coming before Him.
Just stop and really picture that for a moment in your mind’s eye. Set down your baking cookbook and your end-of-year financial logs and capture that image. Picture the fields and cottages of rural China. The penthouses of New York. The crowded apartments of Kiev. The factory towns of middle America. The multi-generational homes of Nigeria, Brazil, and Armenia. Even the private spaces of a starving, isolated, North Korea. And in all of them, the world is hushed, the surface things of life have fallen away, and all are bowing in reverence.
Some might wonder why. Why this devotion to a child born 2,000 years ago?
One word captures it all. Emmanuel. “God with us.”
Have any of us truly understood what that really means? It isn’t about a sky suddenly filled with the heavenly host – as thrilling as that image is! It isn’t about a star miraculously guiding wise men to a baby. It is about the fact that Jesus came from heaven to live as one of us, and thus be at risk of every single thing that saddens and stresses out each one of us. He intimately understands what it is to be at risk of sickness, hunger, temptation, poverty, betrayal. And yet unlike us, He made all the right choices and stayed in constant connection with the Father – even bowing His knee to a painful death so that those who accept His love will forever avoid death and separation.
That truth should always, constantly, permanently, shift us away from an earthly focus on our problems here and now, and onto an eternal perspective.
But it doesn’t. It is far too easy to get focused on those inevitable problems, irritations and heartaches. We need something to interrupt “real life” and remind us of what is actually Real Life.
Most of us, this year, are far more aware of our utter need for God than ever before. Like no other in living memory, the year 2020 has woken us up to the reality that our feeling of stability and control is an illusion.
So let us come before the baby in the manger, friends. Let us join with our brothers and sisters around the world in worship.
And then when “real life” tries to intrude, let us keep our eyes firmly fixed on Jesus, and remind each other – and ourselves – that this Jesus points to the only Reality that really matters.
(The images in this blog and on social media were adapted and created by my engineer-artist daughter, Morgen. If you don’t already regularly receive my blogs and want to, please sign up here. Merry Christmas!)