Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29 ESV)
On this evening we remember our dear Savior's birth. With candlelight, carols and children's pageants, we turn our hearts back in time to a dark night in the little town of Bethlehem.
Tonight, in the simple sanctuary, we sang carols, repeated the sounding joy and read the Nicene creed together after watching the children playing angels, shepherds and the holy family as encounted by an Irish girl named Brigid.
Many centuries after Christ's birth,Brigid was a shepherdess, so legend claims, who had a vision of herself in Bethlehem. She was working for the famed innkeeper who had no room. She offered her tattered blue cloak to comfort the shivering mother and child. When she awakens her cloak has been transformed into a new cloak, deep blue decorated with a myriad of golden stars.
A simple fable, but a moving story of a young girl who longs to be a part of the story, the pageantry of the nativity.
The opening lines of the Nicene creed moved me to tears tonight:
"We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen..."
The unseen beckons. I try to imagine what I have never known. I want to see what human eyes cannot. I long to hear the voices of a thousand angels. I desire a heart that perceives the deeper truths of grace and mercy in fresh ways.
If the unseen God sees me, I am ruined. Yet He does see me, and He loves me still.
And like the child Brigid, I thank God for keeping me safe from the wolves of this world. And like humble Mary and faithful Joseph, I wait for the unseen One to burst into my life. And I will ponder and treasure this wonderment that God, the maker of all, made his way into our world wrapped up in the form of a human baby.
May the last two verses of the familiar anthem of the little town, be our lullaby tonight:
Where children pure and happy pray to the blessèd Child,
Where misery cries out to Thee, Son of the mother mild;
Where charity stands watching and faith holds wide the door,
The dark night wakes, the glory breaks, and Christmas comes once more.
O holy Child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray;
Cast out our sin, and enter in, be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels the great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us, our Lord Emmanuel!
(O Little Town of Bethlehem! words by Phillip Brooks)