Saturday, December 24, 2011

Oh Night Divine

Tonight we went to our church's candlelight Christmas Eve service. It was beautiful as those services always are. It's always such a sweet, reverent time of quiet worship. Something struck me tonight that I haven't really ever considered before.

While we were singing "Oh Holy Night" (my very favorite Christmas song, by the way, one I've heard a million times), I had this vivid image of what it would've been like to be alive on the night Jesus was born.

Picture this.

You're 30-something-years old. Literally your whole life, you've heard stories about the Messiah. You learned the prophecies as a child. You've been taught about what it would mean when He came. You've been told that He would be the Savior, the one to redeem us, the one to pay the price for our sins. No more sacrifices to atone for sins. The Savior is coming -- He will be born of a virgin. But it's been so long. You've begun to think that maybe it was all just a story, a legend. After all, you've heard a lot of other stories throughout your life as well. But no... this one is true. There is a sacredness in the voice of each person who has taught you about His coming all your life. Each teacher lent a holiness to the story as you learned about the coming Messiah. It must be real.

Then one night during the census, you hear a murmur in the crowded city streets, something about a baby. The people are bustling about, pressing through the busyness of the evening, running toward the stable.

What is this? A baby? Born in a barn? It's HIM? You mean it's happened? He's HERE? Tonight?

Goosebumps rise on your arms, your heart pounds. You, too, begin to press through the crowd. You've got to SEE Him! As you reach the edge of town and begin to walk across the grassy field, tears begin to trickle down your cheeks and you find that you can't put thoughts together, you simply must SEE Him. You feel such shame that you ever questioned whether or not it would really happen.

You look up & see a huge star, brighter than the rest, shining down on the stable. There are animals & people crowded around the stable where the baby must be. It's then that you realize you're running. Stumbling over twigs and rocks on the ground, you trip & fall, but quickly claw your way back to a standing position & continue to sprint toward the stable. You must SEE Him!

As your heart beats in your throat and your stomach twists into a knot, you get a glimpse over the crowd. It's Him! The most beautiful baby boy is laying in the manger. He's wrapped in strips of cloth and is snuggled down into the hay, sleeping peacefully as the people press in around Him. As you approach, you feel your breath quicken. Your quiet tears turn to wails as you fall on your knees beside Him.

He is here!

O holy night, the stars are brightly shining;
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth!
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope, the weary soul 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!
O night, O holy night, O night divine!

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