Read Matthew 16:16, then light the center candle.

 

The night before Christmas has become an icon for Americans. We quote and re-quote Clement C. Moore’s “A Visit from Saint Nicholas” every year. He gave us the red-suited “jolly old elf” in a sleigh driven through the sky by “eight tiny reindeer.” Families build traditions on the night before Christmas: from opening gifts to decorating the tree, to sitting around the already decorated tree to read or re-tell the Christmas story. Many churches have a traditional Christmas Eve service which includes carols of the season, devotional thoughts, communion, and candle lighting.

 

This year, on this eve of the birth of the Christ child, let us turn our thoughts to the true meaning of Christmas. The true meaning of the holiday is not about family, though we often find it easiest to understand Christmas in the midst of our family, enjoying traditions that say “Christmas” to us. The true meaning is not giving, although God gave the gift of His son, the Magi gave gifts fit for a king, and we practice giving to family and charity even more than at any other time of the year. Christmas is not simply about love, though it is during this time of year, more than any other, that we turn our hearts to love and loved ones.

 

Christmas, instead, is about the Christ—all that He is and all that He was. He is God come to earth as a man. He came in the form of a child. He came so that He could sacrifice Himself in the place of everyone. The true meaning of Christmas is wrapped up, not in gold and silver paper, but in the moment of Easter. Christmas is about the change that is brought to us because the Christ intervened on our behalf. Let us celebrate the resurrected Christ who is the Babe of the manger.

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