…standing next to Grandpa in a candle-lit church singing “Stille nacht, heilige nacht.” It is the late service on Christmas Eve at St. Paul’s in New Bremen, and I haven’t been there in 45 years. But I’ll be there tonight when, in another candle-lit church, we sing the song again…and the veil that separates flesh and memory thins.
There is warmth and love in these experiences. No wonder we crave them. But more: as we return each year to Christ’s manger bed, we do so in that great company of saints (my grandfather included) that already kneels before a crucified Lord…that greets the resurrection dawn with fear and anticipation…and that, even now, gathers around the marriage feast of the Lamb where the joy and reconciliation of a new creation never end.
Still a kid? Not me. And yet…this night offers us the opportunity to step outside of time. To stand alongside our loved ones in the presence of the God who claims us all as his children, and whose love for us penetrates the confines of this mortal sphere with gracious, timeless redemption.
So tonight, I will sing again with my grandfather…and with my beloved grandchildren…and with the hundreds who will find a place of warmth and light here at Holy Trinity...and with the millions whose lives have spanned the days that radiate out from Bethlehem’s stable and Calvary’s cross and the Garden’s empty tomb. All of us, still kids…wide-eyed with wonder at the love of our Lord.