Each Christmas Eve, my dad reads “The Night Before Christmas” to my seven children and their first cousins. Twelve children under eighteen years of age all piled up on a single couch, with their pajamas on. They crowd in on Pappaw to see the pictures and mouth the words memorized. The entire book is full of wonder, awe, excitement and anticipation. The adults in the room absolutely treasure the moment and without fail always tear up. Year after year, more cousins are added. And year after year, my dad reads slower and more intentionally, drinking in every moment as if it were the last time. It’s a sacred tradition here.
My Pappaw used to read to me and my cousins, and no doubt generations past had similar traditions. Christmas Eve, for most families, often stirs up emotions that have laid dormant all year. December 24th brings us fond memories, both nostalgic and painful, hopeful and uncertain, simultaneously joyous and sad. It’s a day of pure anticipation, anticipation of Christmas, that exciting day of joy and wonder, of sharing and giving and loving. For kids, it’s the gold standard of holidays. For adults, a time to dive deeper into what it means to be loved by God, to be saved, and to be invited into relationship with Jesus.
Today’s Gospel also paints a picture of great anticipation. Zechariah, husband to Elizabeth, father of John the Baptist, priest of the temple is finally able to speak after having his voice taken by the Lord. His silence is broken as the Lord reveals to all gathered a great joy to come. A promise that the people of Israel have been anxiously anticipating for thousands of years.
Even though Zechariah’s song is sung at the birth of John the Baptist, the song is not about him. It is a song of praise and thanksgiving for the coming of the Savior, Jesus Christ.
As long as we have needed a savior, God has had Christmas in mind, for you and the entire human race. Today as we feel all the emotions, as we anticipate the sweets and the joys to come, let us take a moment to give praise to our God, who did not leave us stranded in our sin, but came into the world to rescue and save. Let us praise him in great anticipation for the coming of the Lord, into the manger, into our world and into our hearts. “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; for he has come to his people and set them free. He has raised up for us a mighty Savior, born of the house of his servant David.”
ENNIE HICKMAN – MISSIONARY | SPEAKER | AUTHOR
For almost two decades, Ennie has been one of the most respected and sought after ministry leaders in America. His raw and honest communication, a passion for following Jesus, and his simple and ancient approach to Christian living has aided God in transforming the lives of tens of thousands. Whether on his back porch or in packed churches, Ennie aims to follow Jesus’s commands to Love God and Neighbor and accompany people in this beautiful, messy, life of joy. He and his wife, Cana, have seven children. The former President and “First Lady” of Adore Ministries founded Del Rey Collective in 2019.