Scripture: Revelation 1:1–8 (Today’s Readings)
This time of year is full of the busyness of preparation: gathering decorations to bring joy and light inside during a time of darkness; buying and making gifts to celebrate the love we have for one another; preparing food for gatherings of friends and family. We bake, we shop, we gather greens and hang ornaments, and we try to prepare our homes and hearts for the joyous celebration of our Lord’s birth. But what would it mean to be truly prepared for the wonder of Christmas? Can our hearts and minds fully understand the majesty and wonder of God’s love for us? Can we see how this story of awe and sacrifice culminated in the birth of Jesus Christ in that manger thousands of years ago?
The Scripture calls us to reflect on God as “the Alpha and the Omega,” the One “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” God transcends time itself, an inevitable presence in our past, present, and future. This simple truth is almost too much for our minds to comprehend, and yet our hearts swell in an acknowledgment of its truth. God’s presence is felt in our traditions, in the singing of old songs of praise, in the stories that have been told for generations. He was there in the beginning when the world was new. He was there with Abraham and Isaac, with David and Solomon. He was there with Mary and Joseph, with the shepherds and the Magi. And He was there when our own families were new — with our grandparents and great-grandparents. Whether they were traveling to new countries or digging deeper roots in the cities of their ancestors, He was there. He has walked alongside us all, loving us through all the Christmases that have ever been, loving us before we knew His name. And He is with us now.
Sometimes it can feel hard to connect to God’s presence in our day-to-day routines. Everything is so loud, so bright and distracting. But even when it feels as though all things are fleeting, God is there. For we do not worship a story but a living God. A Savior who is, and was, and will be. So it is right and wonderful to prepare to celebrate and remember. But let us also reflect on God’s presence now, how we may be an example of His love in our homes, communities, and beyond.
This is the gift of Christmas — that we may forever have a tangible example of God’s love and power: something to anchor our minds and hearts as we struggle in trying to comprehend something that is far beyond our comprehension. As we ready ourselves for our favorite holiday traditions, whatever they may be, perhaps we can reflect on how these very traditions are an example of God’s power and love. Just as others have tasted, seen, felt, smelled, or heard these elements of Christmas in the past, so we do now, and so perhaps will our own children and grandchildren experience them in the future. For God is with us now. He is there in the quiet and the clamor. He was there before we drew our first breath. And His story is not over.
Prayer: Bring us Your peace, Lord Jesus. Amen.
Contributed by Rachael W. Viehman
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Artwork: Detail of No Between © Jan L. Richardson. janrichardson.com. Inspired by Isaiah 64:1: “O that You would tear open the heavens and come down … .”