prayer for Christmas day

Almighty God, who has given us your one and only Son to take our nature upon him, and this day to be born of a pure Virgin, grant that we being regenerate, and made your children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by your Holy Spirit, through the same our Lord Jesus Christ who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen.

Adapted from The First English Prayer Book, 106.

come to the manger

Jesus was born in a room where cattle was kept, and then placed in a manger, a feeding trough. Of course Mary and Joseph were there, and soon after some shepherds appeared to witness what the angelic host in the sky had proclaimed to them. There was likely no doubt to everyone present that this was indeed a most special birth.

And yet a part of the human condition, especially for some of us, is to doubt. Think of the shepherds that night. What a wonderful experience for them! But what might it have meant for each of them years later? We don’t know. I would surmise that at least a number of them came to a faith in Jesus, as well as a number of their progeny along with those to whom they shared what they had witnessed that night.

We live in an age of skepticism and doubt. Whether from modernism or postmodernism, or a confluence of them both, most all of us have felt and have surely been impacted by the influence of this age. Such influence would undermine, diminish and eventually dismantle faith. In all sorts of ways, mostly with assumptions which rule out the Christian faith.

There is only one answer, really. And for us who live in such an atmosphere. Come to the manger!

Go again and again to the accounts about Jesus in the gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. As well as what else is said in the New Testament. And then seeing all of that within the framework of the entire Bible, as indeed the Story of God.

The faith hinges on Jesus and nothing else! As son of God he was the Messiah, but in time it became evident to his followers that son of God in his case was unique in an ontological sense, meaning a sense of being. Jesus was indeed son of God even from eternity, the one and only Son whom God in his love sent for the world (John 3:16).

Of course the resurrection of Jesus becomes key. Paul says that if that did not happen, then our Christian faith is null and void. The eyewitness accounts at the end of each of the gospels ring with authenticity. And what has continued on over centuries has continuity with that early witness, as well as the early church in the account given in Acts.

But again we must keep coming back time and again to the one on whom our faith rests. God verifies himself and his word in Jesus. The one who came for us in love to fulfill Israel’s calling. So that all who believe in him might be taken up into God’s Story, to be a part of that witness of God’s love in Jesus for the world.