“Emmanuel:” A Christmas Day Reflection by Thomas McKenzie

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Merry Christmas from the Rabbit Room! In celebration, we’re sharing a Christmas Day reflection by Thomas McKenzie from his Advent devotional The Harpooner, accompanied by Sara Groves’s nativity song “Just Like They Said.”

The Prayer of the Day

O God, you make us glad by the yearly festival of the birth of your only Son Jesus Christ: Grant that we, who joyfully receive him as our Redeemer, may with sure confidence behold him when he comes to be our Judge; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Scripture: Luke 2:8-20 (NIV)

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the Heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest Heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into Heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Homily: Emmanuel

Today is a day of celebration, the first day of the twelve-day Christmas season. You’ve been preparing for twenty-five days for this moment. Enjoy yourself. Spend time with people you love. If you’re alone, do something special for yourself.

God has not left you orphaned. He is with you. And he will come to you again and again.

Thomas McKenzie

If your church offers a Christmas Day service, please attend. While Christmas is often thought of as a family holiday, it is first and foremost a holy day of the Church. If your congregation does not have a Christmas Day service, find a church that does. These services are not well-attended, of course. Most people have other things going on. But worship is the very best thing to do on the Day of Incarnation.

Whatever you do today, remember that Jesus is with you. In his Incarnation, he became Emmanuel, “God with us.” Through his Resurrection and Ascension, he is with us still. No matter what’s happening in your life today—whether you’re alone in an empty apartment, enjoying a house filled with family, at the beach, or in a hospital bed—God has not left you orphaned. He is with you. And he will come to you again and again.

Psalm 110:1-5

The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand,
until I make your enemies your footstool.”
The Lord will send the scepter of your power out of Zion,
saying, “Rule over your enemies round about you.”
Princely state has been yours from the day of your birth;
in the beauty of holiness have I begotten you,
like dew from the womb of the morning.”
The Lord has sworn and he will not recant:
“You are a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.”
The Lord who is at your right hand
will smite kings in the day of his wrath;
he will rule over the nations.

Click here to view The Harpooner in the Rabbit Room Store.

“Just Like They Said” by Sara Groves

Laid my head down, fell asleep
Woke to voices like a mighty rushing wind
Sky on fire, sky on fire
They told me how I’d find Him

And it was just like they said
Just like they said it would be
Wrapped in a cloth, laid in a manger

No one believes me, no one believes me
They shake their heads and say,
“What good comes from Bethlehem?”
I know what I saw, I know what I saw

And it was just like they said
Just like they said it would be
Wrapped in a cloth, laid in a manger

Years later I walked by this place
I know this place
The roof caved in, but I know this place
Cause I ran the whole world
And it was just like they said

And it was just like they said
Just like they said it would be
Wrapped in a cloth, laid in a manger

He was just like they said
Just like they said He would be
Wrapped in a cloth, laid in a manger

Laid in a manger
Laid in a manger
Laid in a manger


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