A Prayer of Awe on Christmas Eve
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. Luke 2:1-7
Dear Lord Jesus, on this day—the eve of your birth, we sing to you with all the gratitude and joy and we can possibly muster, “Born that man no more may die, born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth.” You are our life and joy, our righteousness and peace, our freedom and hope. We praise you for coming to us and for us.
For all the effort Luke took to give us the detailsof your birth, it’s the quietnessof your birth that is simply stunning. Any other king would’ve presented himself with great fanfare and a royal entourage. But you came into our world in utter stillness, complete weakness and profound meekness. “No room in the inn” wasn’t an insult to you. It was your choice—your plan, the way of the gospel.
We marvel and are in knee-buckling awe of you, Lord Jesus. For you didn’t consider your equality with God something to be selfishly hoarded and held. Rather, you made yourself “nothing”—becoming one of us, taking the very nature of a servant—the “Servant of the Lord” of Isaiah’s vision and songs.
And in glad submission to a redemption planned before the world began, you lived in our place and died in our place—the Second Adam for Adam’s fallen daughters and sons. Oh, holy and cosmos-changing mystery.
“Mild he lays his glory by . . . Veiled in flesh, the Godhead see . . . Hail, the incarnate Deity. Pleased, as man, with men to dwell, Jesus, our Emmanuel! Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled!” Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah!
Until the Day you return to finish making all things new, fill our hearts with your mercy and grace, that we may delight in you as you delight in us, and love and serve others as you love and serve us. So very Amen we pray, in your tender and triumphant name.