The house is silent.
I sit at my desk, a cup of dark roast to my right. My family—including children, husband, dog—linger in bed, slow to start this Christmas Eve.
But I can’t sleep. Thoughts of today won’t let me.
Today will be the highlight of my holiday. Once everyone awakes, we’ll drive to the grocery store, early, before the masses. We’ll fill carts with turkeys, potatoes and all sorts of holiday fare. After loading up the car, we’ll stop at IHOP, a rare treat, for a feast of pancakes and bacon. Once stuffed with both brunch and each other, we’ll return home to wrap gifts, bake cookies, and play games and puzzles.
Then, tonight. Tonight. The highlight of our Christmas Eve. After a simple dinner, we’ll pack two cars with the day’s groceries and cookies. After a thirty or forty minute drive, we’ll end up in front of the Denver Rescue Mission, where too many homeless will hover in the cold. We’ll drop off a too-small offering of food, clothes, and multiple wishes of “Merry Christmas'” all around, remembering again our fortune and praying we don’t hold it too close.
When we pull away from the mission leaving behind its glowing “Jesus Saves” sign, we’ll drive a few blocks to Christmas Eve service at Trinity, an old 1800’s stone church downtown where people of every age and station sing ancient carols, read scripture with reverence, and light a few hundred candles. My little ones will lay heads in my lap, fighting to stay awake but failing miserably. After the last chorus of Silent Night, we’ll exit the church in a hush, exchanging glances and smiles with other church-goers who likewise feel the presence of the sacred. The day nearly done, we’ll turn our car toward home, carry sleeping children to bed, and kiss foreheads before flipping off the last light.
This is just as we’ve done every Christmas Eve for as long as I can remember. Although Christmas Day is fun, it’s merely post script to Christmas Eve. December 24 is the pinnacle of our holiday, all the remembering and savoring and imagining a much-needed Savior child.
A while back, I read words by one of my favorite authors. Simple, yet poignant. I believe they help explain my love affair with a manger-sleeping baby on Christmas Eve.
“As I read the birth stories about Jesus I cannot help but conclude that though the world may be tilted toward the rich and powerful, God is tilted toward the underdog.” —Philip Yancey
Yes. Our God is tilted toward the underdog. That’s what I see when I picture Mary and Joseph traveling by donkey to Bethlehem. That’s the heart beating in the breast of a newborn, wrapped in blankets in a stable. Heaven on earth. He came not to reinforce the rich, but to rescue the poor. The orphan. The lost. The sick. The lonely. The homeless. The hungry.
You. And me.
Over the next two weeks, I will be offline, leaning in to this and those closest to me. I’ll return the week of January 6, and look forward to bringing in a new year together.
Until then, on the eve of Christmas, remember the One who came so far to fight for you. Who offered His riches for your poverty, the glory of heaven for an earth-bound you and me.
A Hero with a heart for the underdog.
Jesus. God with us.
Merry Christmas, my friends.