Dec. 24: Fourth Sunday of Advent
“I have been with you wherever you went” (2 Sam 7:9).
Some people have a knack for picking out wonderful gifts—a book that delights, a scarf that adorns, a kitchen gadget that saves time. Others of us worry, as we put the last presents under the tree, whether we have chosen well. Will he like the tie? (Doubtful.) Will she wear the earrings? (Possibly.) What will they think of the wine glasses? (Hard to know.)
There is, of course, one perfect Christmas gift: the Christ child, borne into the world by the power of the Most High and the gracious fiat of a young peasant girl. Majestically divine, miraculously human, he is “God with us,” Immanuel. And he will remain with us, not just at Christmas but until the end of the age. For the promise of God’s presence among us is the most enduring promise of the Bible.
To Jacob by the ladder, to Moses by the burning bush, to Joshua at the boundary of the promised land, to King David in his palace in today’s first reading, to the disciples, God’s message is the same: “Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go.” This ancient assurance is meant for us, too: When we struggle with challenging circumstances or steel ourselves to accept an unwanted responsibility or see our plans thwarted, our Lord comforts us: “Do not fear, for I am with you.” So much does God love this messy, imperfect world that he chose to enter into human history and to abide with us forever.
What can we give him, poor as we are? As the old hymn tells us, in gratitude for God’s wondrous gift, we can offer only one thing: our hearts. May the desire to love and serve Him become our guiding star, this night and forever.
Prayer: Loving and gracious Lord, As this holy night approaches, I thank you for the gift of Christ Jesus, who casts his everlasting light upon a dark world. Amen.
For today’s readings, click here.
To hear In the Bleak Midwinter, click here.