December 24th – “Magic Day”


Now I know that of all the days in the year, most people would look forward to Christmas Day, or the day they went on holiday, or their birthday; but to me, it’s today! When our children were small I would waken them up to come for breakfast with the news “Come and enjoy the most exciting day of the year”. To me Christmas Eve was magic. It was the anticipation, the excitement. There was something in the air. Even the milkman was in a good humour wearing a funny hat. People who called in for mince pies and stuff always had some mysterious packages to deliver; and of course it was the night when bedtime, for the children, was full of excitement and promise, as well as threats about not putting the lights on at 2 a.m. to see – if he’s been!
All through these many years the scenes have changed, but the sense of magic has remained, but in my days as a husband and father I have tended to mark the beginning of the real Christmas season as 3 p.m. on Christmas Eve, when the B.B.C. broadcast of The Nine Lessons and Carols went out live from Kings College, Cambridge. I could never get through it without having surreptitiously to dry my eyes, and it isn’t all nostalgia – it’s the sheer beauty of English church choral music at its flawless best. It’s the blend of ancient and modern, the traditional and the daring, the word and the worship, as well as the memories of sitting listening with our children as we sat on the floor and peeled apples ready for the next day’s apple sauce.
Your memories are doubtless very different from mine, and I do apologise for burdening you with my reminiscences, but perhaps you agree with me that this day’s anticipation has a magic of its own. It’s almost as if all the ages of expectation are met in Bethlehem tonight.
This is from Micah Chapter 5, v. 2-3, and remember the word ‘Ephratha’ was the name of the district and the old name (Beth-Ephrath) for Bethlehem – the House of Bread.
But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times. Therefore Israel will be abandoned until he time when she who is in labour gives birth.
A Prayer: For the coming of Jesus to this dark world, we give you praise and thanks, O God our Father.

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