Christmas Eve

The muscles of simple, precise documentation have atrophied in these long weeks of discontinued use. The Beanstalk has been sparse this year because of the concerted effort I’ve poured into working on the novel, which I hope to complete in 2015, but the relative ease I’ve always felt describing the small things, the days, the straightforward facts, is gone. At least once a day I think, “Ah, I should write about this!” and then I sit down and think of how I would begin and I’m at a loss.

However, being that it’s Christmas, a day, a season that deserves to be mentioned in the course of general life commentary, I’m going to try.

This month, in an effort to get my mind into the proper Christmas spirit, that is, thinking about Christ and his birth and not just wrapping and garland, I read a great deal of Frederick Buechner. In his book Secrets in the Dark, he muses on advent quite a bit. What stood out to me the most was his observation that perhaps the greatest miracle of Christmas is that after a few thousand years, humanity continues to celebrate the holiday with fervor. Who, what, other than Jesus’s arrival to earth, has captivated people with such command for so long? I was fascinated by this notion and spent quite a bit of time thinking about it. Below is a modified piece I wrote for a music and scripture event I and a few friends held last week.

Advent is, when it comes right down to it, the season of waiting. In the weeks and days leading up to Christmas, the expectation of the arrival is thick, beating like a heart. As children it is an almost unbearable exhilaration, but as adults we find even if it has faded, even if we are tired and a bit hopeless, there still exists that small flicker of wonder – a flame that will not die. Every year, for a few thousand, and then long before that, throughout the world, people are waiting. Drawn in together like campers around a fire, hungry for the enthralling story.

The shepherds waiting for morning on the hill outside Bethlehem. The wise men, waiting for the astrological sign of the turning of the tide to assure life would never be the same. The virgin, small, afraid, alone. Waiting to see if it could be true – if the swelling of her body could really be because of a baby.

We wait, every year, miraculously programmed for anticipation even though the cycle of years simply carries over and over, and we return to Christmas again and again. Why do we not grow bored? Why doesn’t it grow tiresome. That flame could have been snuffed out long ago, Lord knows, and yet –

The birth of the Christ child, God’s son Jesus, brings us back again because we hope. We want to hear the story, even if we only consider it lore, because the hope, even the faintest glimmer of hope, the awe-inspiring, terrifying, unearthly fact that God has made his home in our tribe, could be true. We want to be rescued, don’t we? We want to know because of Christmas – God’s man on earth – there is light in the prevalent dark.

So we wait, we hear the sound of a baby, and we peer in to see if He is come.

And He is come.