Isaiah 9:6 – For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (NKJV)
Over the years, our family has experienced many different kinds of Christmas celebrations. When I was a little boy in the Netherlands, we exchanged presents on St. Nicholas Day, December 6th — just small items, like a colouring book, some crayons perhaps, or an item of clothing. This was partly because of tradition and partly out of necessity. We had a small, artificial Christmas tree which sat on a table in front of the living room window. It had real candles, which were lit only on Christmas Day. We went to church on Christmas Day and again the next day, which we called "Second Christmas Day".
When we moved to Canada in 1948, we got a real tree, and we still had real candles. My parents tried to keep up the tradition of giving a present on December 6th, but after one attempt, that stopped, and we adopted the North American way of doing it at Christmastime. We still went to church on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
The first time that I experienced a Christmas Eve service was in 1965. Forty or so of us men spent a lonely Christmas in a camp in the desert of the Sultanate of Muscat and Oman. The camp manager had a cedar tree brought in from Lebanon that was set up in the mess hall. We had a nice Christmas dinner, and some of us went to the Mission Hospital Chapel in Muscat on Christmas Eve.
As time went on, we moved to different countries, and on Christmas Eve, we worshipped in local traditions, sang carols, listened to the message in different languages, and experienced different ways of remembering and celebrating the day that Christ was born. After our return to Canada, we stayed with the now familiar way of celebrating Christmas in church on Christmas Eve. But there was always the message that Christ was born in Bethlehem.
And now, as we meet together on Christmas Eve, we will again hear those wonderful words:
Luke 2:11-12 – For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger. (NKJV)
And then, as we silently depart from our place of worship, we, with untold millions, will reverently sing, Silent night, holy night.
Prayer: Our Father in heaven, as we worship You this Christmastime, may the truth of the gospel be a revelation to many people. May they hear and believe. We ask it in Jesus' name. Amen.
Listen to this devotional
Listen while you read: "What Child Is This" (Lyrics)