It's a long wait. Four weeks, during advent. Nine months, since that announcement to Mary. Or four thousand years, since mankind by disobedience was separated from God. But finally, the day is here, the baby is here, the redeemer is here. And I can't help but feel good about it.
Midnight Mass is the real service for Christmas. The nativity story, the moment of birth, is only a tiny step in God's long fight to reconcile mankind to himself. Epiphany is more significant, Good Friday even more so, Easter most of all. But at Christmastide, it's this service which makes me feel like Christmas is here at last.
A friend with a more robust turn of phrase than I said earlier tonight "Bloody hell Doug. I'm stunned by your life lately". Tonight's lesson is this: It doesn't matter what life throws at you, there's always someone there to help you cope with it. We are thankful for this annual reminder. However much life stuns us, it'll never be as stunning as the generosity of the Creator in sending us the Redeemer at Christmas, and the Sustainer at Pentecost.
All my heart this night rejoices,
As I hear, far and near, sweetest angel voices;
"Christ is born," their choirs are singing,
Till the air, everywhere, now with joy is ringing.
Hark! a voice from yonder manger,
Soft and sweet,doth entreat "Flee from woe and danger!
Brethren, come! from all doth grieve you,
You are freed; all you need I will surely give you."
Come, then, let us hasten yonder!
Here let all, great and small, kneel in awe and wonder!
Love him who with love is yearning!
Hail the star that from far bright with hope is burning!
Thee, dear Lord, with heed I'll cherish,
Live to thee and, with thee, dying, shall not perish,
But shall dwell with thee for ever,
Far on high, in the joy that can alter never.
Paulus Gerhardt, 1656
translated by Catherine Winkworth, 1861
Full set of [LC] posts here.