Thursday, December 24, 2015

For Christmas Eve

Christmas is a magical time, but it's not the trappings of the secular world that make it magical - except maybe for very young children - rather it's the sense of mystery surrounding the Incarnation. The magic is a by-product of the belief that Christmas celebrates a miracle, the Creator of the universe deigning to become one of His creatures so that in the fullness of time He and His creatures could enjoy each other forever.

It's that belief, affirmed by Christians for 2000 years, that's so awe-inspiring and which fills us on Christmas with an ineffable sense of love and being loved, a sense that makes the whole experience of Christmas Eve tingle with magic.

The secular, commercial world has drained much of that excitement from the night by pretending that the source and meaning is irrelevant. All the talk of Santa Claus, ads for cars, beer, movies and phones, all the insipid secular "holiday" songs - none of these do anything to touch people's hearts or imaginations. They don't inspire awe. Christmas Eve is sterile and empty without the message of the Gospel and the conviction that this night is special, not because of the office Christmas party, last minute shopping, or Home Alone reruns, but because it's a night haunted by the presence of God and set apart for the delivery of the greatest gift in history.

Here are two traditional Christmas pieces (and a third contemporary piece) that capture some of the magic, mystery, and power of this night. I hope you enjoy them and hope, too, that each of you has a wonderful, meaningful Christmas and a very special 2016:

It might be best just to listen to this next one without watching it since the video is a bit out of sync with the audio:
And if you have a little time, this is perhaps my favorite contemporary Christmas song, particularly the lyrics in the second part which never fail to move me, though I'm not sure I can articulate exactly why: