In spite of so many Christmas songs that celebrate how this is the “most wonderful time of the year,” it is, for many people in fact, one of the most terrible times of the year. Good feelings are harder to come by than you might think. Feelings of want, of loss, and of failed expectations run deeper at this time than most other times when day-to-day living has a way of covering them up. And because Christmas is such an important family time, all those feelings of being around those who know us best, and those who think they know us but don’t, are heightened.
But something happens on the 24th that changes everything. It’s here. It has arrived. Whatever you’ve done, you’ve done; whatever you haven’t done, you haven’t done, and nothing can change that, but it doesn’t matter anymore, because it’s here anyway. Stop everything and enjoy it with what you have. It’s your dysfunctional family? Bless your dysfunctional family. Not enough gifts under the tree? Bless the gifts you have. Too many gifts under the tree? Bless those gifts. It came. Like the winter solstice that turns all the days from now on into longer days until next summer, it came. You can’t turn back the clock. It came, and thank God it did, because your sins and mine have all been forgiven and forgotten, because of this. Glory to God in the highest!
On the night of the 24th, the world was still, silent, waiting. For what? It didn’t know, but something was up. Something big time. Something that would change it forever. Something that would mark the measurement of time, regardless of whether you believed or not. Everything before that day was before. Everything after that day was after.
Jesus Christ had just been born.
The shepherds must have felt it – that deep silence, like that dead sound immediately before the crashing of a wave that all surfers know about, it was as if the whole world took a breath and held it, just for a second or two. Something sucked the air out right before the night sky split open and a multitude of heavenly host exploded on that quiet Palestinian hillside. God couldn’t resist the opportunity to irrupt upon the world what He was about to do, and waste His ethereal extravagance on a few humble shepherds whose names would matter only to Him.
It came. It’s done. December the 24th is here. Nothing more to do because everything’s already been done. Hallelujah!