Through faith he offers you a night of peace and cleansing freedom from everyone else’s expectations, including your expectations of yourself. He offers you new hopes and dreams and real reasons to celebrate. He makes your spiritual heart soar as if you had been born again.In other words, remember that you are not a Christmas spectator. You are a member of Jesus’ family. Your place is in the assembly where Jesus’ family gathers in his name every week. A place always awaits you at the table of grace where, with your brothers and sisters in Christ, you receive your Savior, Christ the Lord.
On Christmas the family gathers to sing and pray and receive holy communion. Those who belong to Jesus return to their Christian family home to reflect on the life-renewing meaning of the gospel of the nativity. The muscular Christian message of Christmas (distinct from the culture’s soft and soupy mix) means that walls of separation shall be broken. Borders that separate people from one another shall be crossed and then erased from the landscape. Lion and lamb, rich and poor, old and young shall see themselves in one another’s eyes. Philips Brooks wrote in his pilgrimage-inspired hymn, O Little Town of Bethlehem: “O holy child of Bethlehem, be born in us we pray…” The Christmas gospel does not mean merely that Jesus was born in Roman-ruled Palestine, but rather that Jesus is born in us, spiritually and truly, giving us new eyes and new hearts with which to go forward through our lives. These are the real, priceless, Christmas gifts. Remember, tomorrow night, when you are weighed down and groggy with fancy food and drink, struggling through half-remembered customs, dizzy with high and burdensome expectations, that Jesus belongs to you, and you belong to Jesus.