Summary: Christmas Eve is a time to FEEL the presence of God coming to you.
Tonight, Christmas Eve, is a time for the heart more so than for the mind. Everything about tonight invites us to feel something rather than to think something. A bright star shinning in the East leading the wise men to Bethlehem; a heavenly host of angels singing glory to God in the highest to the fear and amazement of the shepherds, a very special baby boy being born in a manger wrapped in swaddling cloth warmly and securely cared for by Mary and Joseph. More than any other service of the year except perhaps for Easter, we come tonight not wanting to hear so much the proofs and reasons for some great truth or mystery of God but wanting more to feel and experience the warmth and love, the softness and wonder of God coming to us. We call this
a religious service but it is hard for us to separate the non-religious traditions that go on around this sacred night- a Christmas tree aglow with colored lights and a whole array of ornaments full of sentimental value- not to mention the gifts underneath that will soon be opened. The family is home too, relatives who aren’t always together, now come together with a little more
excitement than is normally the case- there’s always a big meal with lots of special and tasty
treats with aromas of chocolate and cinnamon, sugar and spice. Our senses, sight, taste, touch, sound are all awakened this night. It’s a night when we want to feel what we believe; more than saying: I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of Heaven and earth and in Jesus Christ
his only Son, our Lord, born of the virgin Mary… tonight we want to feel His presence and know the touch of His hand upon us. But that’s not something we can make happen anymore
than the shepherds or Mary could make God touch them on that special night long ago. We call what happen to them a gift of God’s grace- why these shepherds and not those other shepherds further over or why Mary and not Martha or Lydia? But certainly we can live and work in an attitude and style that invites God to be with us and then in faith to trust in His promise that He will come to us. For surely the Lord Jesus does come not just that night as a babe but today and tomorrow. He comes according to His will and pleasure to sinner or saint in whatever form or matter He chooses. In 1992 Helen Lescheid described how suddenly and wonderfully the Savior of the world came to her. The experience was so life-changing for her that 40 years later when she wrote about it, it was as vivid as when it happened. She had come with the rest of her family to Canada as a German immigrant in 1952 at the age of 15. With a thick German accent, hardly able to speak any English, poor, with clothes and hair that were far out of style, Helen became the brunt of jokes at school and found her self withdrawing and becoming more and more fearful and shy. Her father had died; her mother had to work 10 hour days in the field to support the four children. And then it happened one day after coming home from another unhappy day at school….READ (Guideposts, September 1992 pp.34-36)
Obviously there is no doubt in Helen’s mind that Jesus comes; she felt His presence as we would like tonight—another gift of God’s grace to one of His children. It should not be overlooked as well that after 3 months, His presence was not as real as before to her as she says to allow her faith and character to grow and mature. But I would remind us tonight that as our faith and character does grow in the Lord in obedience to His way and Truth, you can expect His presence to be made known in your life as vividly as it was in Helen’s or perhaps less vividly but still just as real and life changing. That is one of the most wonderful of all benefits of our Christian faith, that our Sovereign and Almighty God is not far off and aloof, unconcerned and preoccupied with more important matters; He comes to a lowly manger into a family of simple means, to a young, hurting teenage girl, to a broken and sinful
world. If the Bible teaches us anything about God, it certainly tells us that the Christian faith is not a one way street- it is not just our attempt to know and to love God, but it is also His effort to love us more than we can imagine.
As you listened to Helen’s experience, you may be asking yourself why don’t I have a personal experience like that with Jesus Christ? My answer is you have had an experience of His coming to you but more than likely your experience was of a different nature. Remember how Jesus came to Isaiah with the vision in the Temple or to Simeon who overcome by the Holy Spirit raised up the Christ child into His arms and said: now let thy servant depart in peace according to your word for my eyes have seen your salvation….