Gracious, loving, and merciful God. Those lyrics from “O Little Town of Bethlehem hold so much meaning…The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.
Just as it was at the first Christmas, this is a time for many filled with heartache. We have seen division, hatred, darkness this year globally and for many, personally. And so, Christmas is marked by pain, loneliness, fear, and confusion. But, you are familiar with this sorrow. At the time of your arrival as a baby, the world was full of these things. Parents were losing children because of a government that was threatened by the promise of you. A young girl was facing rejection because of her choice to be obedient. Her family was turned away because their presence made people uncomfortable. Your people, The Israelites, had been waiting for a word from you for 400 years.
And your answer to their heartache was for The Word they waited on to be wrapped up in flesh. The one who had been the agent of creation, who had been and still holds all things together, left his throne to become man. We are grateful that you never gave up being God, but that you did see fit to also become like us, to step into skin, into the mess we made of your perfect creation…and by being both God and man, you created the possibility for us to be reconciled with our Creator.
This is the beauty of Christmas. That, at just the right time, according to Your plan, Father, you sent your Son, to become like us. To walk among us. To feel pain, loneliness, fear, confusion. Not to fix our mess from afar but to walk with us in it. The story of Christmas without the context of Easter is lacking. We have hope not only because you put on flesh and came as a little baby, but because you lived a life we had no hope of living, you chose to face death on our behalf, and you conquered death when you rose again. Your birth, life, death, and resurrection, gave us hope and it continues to give us hope.
We pause now and ask that you would breath hope into the hurting places we carry with us tonight and pour your light into the darkness that seems so heavy in our world right now.
Thank you that joy is possible even in sorrow because we have a high priest who knows what it is like to walk this road. Thank you that joy is possible because you have defeated the power of sin and are still offering new life to those who believe. Thank you that there is reason to celebrate now and every day because you came to reconcile, you came that we might have life to the fullest. And that life is only found in you.
Just as you, Christ, came to dwell among men, all those years ago, You, Holy Spirit, dwell among us now. So when we seek satisfaction in things that will not satisfy, when we search for solutions that will not bring peace, remind us, that our satisfaction, and the ultimate solution invaded this world as a baby…and all authority rests on HIS shoulders. We can cease striving because He is sovereign. And while our God is not tame, He is good.
And Lord, we confess that all too often we find ourselves wrapped up in defending your character rather than reflecting your character. You have asked us to live out the beauty of Christmas in our lives, to follow your lead as we step into the hurting world around us. To love others, not because they value the things we value, but because we find common ground in our inability to rescue ourselves. We find common ground in our need for a Creator who became the creature so that we might find a place in the family of God. Help us, as your people, as a church, as individuals, to echo the beauty of Christmas all year long. The hopes and fears of all the years are still met only in you.