Christmas Eve: Wednesday, December 24
Christmas Reflection: Jared Ayers

In the great Southern Gothic novelist Flannery O’Connor’s novel, The Violent Bear It Away, 14-year-old Francis Tarwater slips out the front door of his Uncle Rayber’s home to go to an evening revival service in town. Rayber, a skeptic, trails his nephew to the service, determined to discover what has lured Tarwater there. Rather than going inside, Rayber watches from outside a low back window, and as he does, he hears the preaching of child evangelist Lucette Carmody:

God told the world he was going to send it a king and the world waited. The world thought, a golden fleece will do for His bed. Silver and gold and peacock tails, a thousand suns in a peacock’s tail will do for his crib. His mother will ride on a four-horned white beast and use the sunset for a cape. She’ll trail it behind her over the ground and let the world pull it to pieces, a new one every evening ... Jesus came on cold straw, Jesus was warmedbythebreathofanox.“Whoisthis?”theworldsaid. “Whois this blue-cold child and this woman, plain as the winter? Is this the Word of God, this blue-cold child? Is this His will, this plain winter-woman?” The world said, “Love cuts like the cold wind and the will of God is plain as the winter. Where is the summer will of God?”

“Who is this?” This is what Mary and Joseph, shepherds and magi and emperors all ask in the Christmas stories of Holy Scripture; and this is what humanity hasn’t stopped asking of Jesus in two millennia.

The chorus of angels trumpeting the Christmas Gospel to a handful of drowsy shepherds on the night shift give us our answer: this blue-cold Child, crying on a bed of cold straw, is “Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord” (Luke 2.11). This Child is the love of God, cutting through the cold wind of our sin, the truth and life of God, shining in the darkness of our injustice, pain, and death.

So, this Christmas, may you ponder, treasure, and savor the strange good news of the Christmas Gospel with Mary, may you be amazed like the shepherds, and may you celebrate together with the angel-choir:

Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace, goodwill among people! 

To read more Advent reflections, visit our Advent/ Christmas page and download our Advent Prayerbook to follow along with us this season!