God Surprises Us with Heaven, Here on Christmas Eve

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Whenever heaven greets earth, this becomes a time of fresh beginnings. Tonight, heaven’s splendor hides and holds back, cloaked in the trappings of peasant birth!

Rife with visions, long foretold; let your heart dream those dreams of old. Deep in the bashful silence comes He, to keep the ancient prophecy. Savor, this blessed beginning of a Baby, a birth, for us, this night, on earth.

From our first moment of rebellious days, God promised life, swaddled in the fullness of deity. So, to rebellion’s brood, His Redemption arrives in a fleshed-and-formed reality. For this to be so, an angel soars from eternity’s perpetual peace, secreted with sacred words, his voice soon to release, “Greetings, most favored one. O receiver of God’s grace, you, dear Mary, will bring forth a Son, the Savior of your seditious race.”

“Yes,” she weeps! Fearful, trembling, and affright, the faith in her still swells. At once, God breathes His presence in her, and Christ within her dwells. Step out, Redeemer of the earth, in virgin flesh from virtuous birth. Let each creature, young and old, pulse with life as our wombed forgiveness grows and unfolds.

Unaware of the Spirit’s work is Joseph, Mary’s betrothed. Deceived, betrayed, this older man thinks, for now, her pregnancy shows. Astir at night, anxious, he frets, set to pursue his self-made course. Oh, he’ll leave her dignity intact, yet still, he seeks divorce. So again, the angel swoops in vision strong, “Fear not. Be her groom, for moving in Mary is your Messiah, deep in the Ark of His Covenant, in her holy womb.”

Ah, but stirrings elsewhere occur in the name of an ever-grasping Empire. The Emperor sounds and issues a decree atop those seven hills of Rome. Each must travel, with haste, to his paternal home. For Caesar’s sovereignty makes this so with his full weight and authority.

So, in winter’s bleak, a woman with Child, to Bethlehem, now goes—on unpaved roads with Joseph, her pledged and her betrothed. Late and tired, they arrive. The town troubles with more people than places, with nowhere to stay. So, this strange couple rooms and boards with cattle and sheep, where beasts of burden eat and lay. Sorry is such our dismal state, of mortality’s strain and sinful slate.

Sacred scrolls now spring to life, thrumming with hope for each person’s fear. For Divinity inhabits His creature’s skin, alive and breathing here. Ancient pages mesh and weave; with ink, they intertwine. Now ligament and tendon, those holy words become God and Man, divine. No longer a mere clutch of promises to be, but fulfillment Himself in living form for you and me.

In such enormity of meekness did Christ our King descend. Such strength of infant weakness, by which He deigns to be our friend. To earth from eternity, this Child enters, amid our schemes of waste and welter. In an animal’s stable, stall, and manger cries our flesh-born “Alleluia.” So, Jesus joins our struggle-cry to the triumph song of heaven on high.

The fingers of her God awaken in her hand, as only Mary can understand. Such tiny digits, so frail and curled. These hands once moved to mold this world in creation’s primordial hour. Here, He lives, our Lord of lords, eternal, loved by love, maternal.

So, God made Himself a home, the Shaper of seas, Architect of the spider’s web, Maker of the universe’s vast expanses, here, with us. How strange, God places Himself at our mercy, a crib for a palace, exposed to the machinations of men and malice. Blessed is He who comes descending to an earthy cradle, so profound the mystery of God, in a musty stable.

Farther afield, in frightening form, God’s angel, once more, plunges to our world. With salvation’s words, he hovers strong, with flaming wings unfurled. Above our sad and lonesome fields, he blazes with splendor unbound while shepherds shrink, trembling on the ground.

“Quail not in fear,” he beckons them, for terror seized their addled minds. “Glad tidings of genuine joy I bring. Yes, to you and each of humankind. A Savior is born from King David’s line: the prophesied Messiah. Now, this shall be your sign: An Infant you will find tonight, in mortal’s form displayed, to free you from your fallen blight, inside a manger laid.”

Fierce angelic squadrons assemble, and surging here they came. Swift, through cloven skies, they shake the starry frame. Fearsome is this shining throng, robust with joyous Word, swaddled and wrapped in a saving song. “Glory to God, to heaven’s heights, and on earth be peace. From heavenly glories come goodwill, which now will never cease!”

Pray, tell, what shall we understand of this? In gloomful sin beyond number and count, we languished for too long. Did angels’ echoed sounds redound, with right to replace the wrong? Louder celestial choirs, we cry! Reverberate in divine harmony. For the Father’s Son stirs here, not trapped on holy high. Regale your King in sacred symphony. Hush the noise and halt the strife; let these singers sing! Revel in Christ’s incarnate love, whom such deliverance brings.

So, enlivened fieldhands cheer these glad sounds, now unafraid in heart and mind. On hillsides again, enshrouded by night, they leave their lambs behind. Off they race to David’s town, this foretold Child to find.

Summoned to His cradle, they discover the Newborn asleep in a trough a-strewn with hay. With glistening eyes and struck with awe, these guardians of sheep gaze and gawk, their tongues a-wag, with gaping jaw. Oh, what a story they tell. Angelic sounds leap from their mouths, of Him who came to dwell. Now done, with minds still marveling, they to their flocks return, their pounding hearts with purest rapture burn.

Rough-hewn men shook with fright, and angels blazed into the night. Yet only mother Mary, in her maiden bliss, worshiped her Beloved with a holy kiss. Though we may marvel and mystify at Christ asleep atop straw and feed, God perplexes His creation with heaven, for us, this Christmas Eve.

Can so vital a redemption not be rumbling with our works and worth? Despite our disdain, God’s precious Child now leads the way, from meager beginnings, on this most sacred day.

Oh, such woes of conflict and quarrel, we anguished deep and long, bereaved of hope and future strong, bereft of joyous song. For eons, we forsook the right for dark and struggled wrong. To fill our fists with greed’s delight, we warred and clashed in grim of night.

Dare, believe this Savior came to warm our souls on our coldest day, to deliver you and me from Satan’s hold and sway. The Lord, Emmanuel, is God with us, in frightful clash and strife, who frees us for eternal love and everlasting life.

Leap and laugh, lame world, for Christ, tonight, became en-cradled. O prisoners of exile, arise brave and bold, be on your way. For here, God pulses with the promise of perpetual home today. Vanish, woeful weeping, and sorrow be silent. For us, a Redeemer dwells, for real. Not only astride in our helplessness, but death itself under His heel.

Those entrapped in temptation and trial, be birthed in Christ to begin anew. This Child strides undaunted forth to forgive and save you, through and through. Harrowed and haunted by guilt aggrieved, relish now God’s mercy and grace, nevermore to leave. To conquer your every sin, God invades this earth, a quake with healing words in His holy birth.

Let no face droop or become sad since our Christ Jesus makes us glad. From our depths of death, He sets us free so we can gain our liberty. No more will darkness extinguish the day, for salvation now shines on full display. With the coming of this Light, our darkest fears, He puts to flight.

How? Why? Only because Heaven Incarnate came down, the crucifying wood as His throne, and thorns for His crown. Yes, nails, spear, shall pierce Him through—the cross He will bear for me, for you. Praise, extol the Word made flesh, our God, the Son of Mary!

This King of kings redemption brings. Let loving hearts enthrone Him. Oh, beloved Child of Bethlehem, descend on us, we pray. Cast out our sin so far away, be born in us today. Blessed Messiah, Christ on earth, for us on earthen sod, be with us now, forever close, our Savior, Lord, and God.

Come, Redeemer without spot or blemish, to the lost, the battered, and blamed. O Death from life and Life from the grave become our best and wondrous story. Every living thing, breathe in God’s saving glory! Let not the human lot we ponder, steal our faith, or cause us to grieve. No, for God surprises us with heaven here on Christmas Eve. Amen.