Christmas Eve – Luke 2:1-14
To you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you; you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger. (Luke 2:11-12, NRSV)
Here we have the “reason for the season”: The angels announce to the shepherds that the long-awaited hope of God’s salvation and justice has come. The sign is a helpless baby, wrapped in cloths and lying in a feed trough. As one commentator noted, at this moment “earth was not looking to heaven for a sign, but heaven looks to earth. The extraordinary points to the ordinary and says, ‘See, God is among you.’”
God’s incarnation in Jesus is such a profound event, I will never understand its full meaning. Perhaps the best I can do on this Christmas Eve is experience awe – a “positive feeling of being in the presence of something vast that transcends our understanding of the world” (definition by psychology professor Paul Piff).
For years, Professor Piff studied what it means for people to experience awe. He found that it is a powerful motivator, moving people to be more humble, more attuned to our common humanity, and more apt to do things for the greater good. So perhaps it’s enough to not try to figure it all out, but simply to pause, gazing at the manger, in awe and wonder. This action alone may have a greater impact than I could ever imagine.
On this Holy Night, O God, we are breathless when we ponder your amazing love for us, made real in a tiny baby. All praise be to you, now and forever. Amen.
-The Reverend Carolynn Winters-Hazelton, First Presbyterian Church, Falls City, and First Presbyterian Church, Hiawatha, KS