Day 1: Present With Us

by Dec 4, 2023Christmas, Devotional, God With Us

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory.

John 1:14a (ESV)

The cold night air frosted my breath as my chore boots crunched across the snowy farmyard. On my way toward the goat barn, I paused to look up at the crisp, starry sky.

Behind me in our cozy farmhouse, my mother was putting the final touches on our annual Christmas Eve celebration. She would light candles and set out delicious finger food along with the treats we diligently baked over the past weeks. We would sing carols together, read the Christmas story and then open the simple gifts that had gradually appeared under the tree this week. Christmas Eve was my favorite day of the entire year, and I loved all our family traditions surrounding the evening.

One such tradition lay ahead of me, in the barn. Growing up on a farm, we felt a special connection to the story of Jesus’ birth, in a manger, surrounded by all the animals. Each Christmas Eve, before we could celebrate as a family, my dad insisted that we take special care with our chores. We’d give the cows, goats, horses and chickens extra food and make sure they had clean bedding and fresh water. Even though I knew it was impossible, I’d always loved the tradition that believed that animals could talk at midnight on Christmas Eve.

Yet, even as I eagerly anticipated the evening ahead, in this moment I stayed still, gazing up at the clear night sky. My young heart was still learning who God was and the way He longed for a relationship with me, but here in the quiet, I could sense His presence. He seemed closer and more real than I’d ever experienced before. I took a deep breath and whispered a prayer of gratitude before turning toward the goat barn.

Even now, as an adult, I find a sense of wonder in the December night sky. Whether it’s the magi star and heavenly hosts that fill the sky in the Christmas story, or the stillness I experience when I’m outside in the winter darkness, I feel closer to God when I gaze into the heavens at Christmastime. I’ve spent Christmas in many places around the world, but it’s here, in the quiet December sky, that the beauty and wonder of the incarnation hits me. Grace and Truth putting on human flesh. The Glory of God wrapped in frail humanity. The Creator choosing to become His creation. Each December, I’m full of awe.

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