Merry Christmas (and Happy New Year)!
We weren't quite able to get the Christmas family photo we were hoping for. I think we'll try again tonight before our Christmas Eve service.

Christmas Eve is just as special to me as Christmas. Tonight after we worship Jesus together with family and friends, (if life goes according to my plans which it rarely does), we'll come home and gather around our advent wreath. I'll take a deep breath and inhale the wonder of all that God's provided for us this year.

JJ will open His Bible to read the Christmas story in Luke chapter 2. Slowly, we'll let each word remind us of that first Christmas night and God’s promise that came true in Bethlehem. “She gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped Him in cloths and placed Him in a manger…” Luke 2:7 (NIV).

Then one of the boys will read the promise in Isaiah 7:14: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and you will call him Immanuel, God with us.”

Closing our eyes, we'll picture Mary wrapping baby Jesus. Her hands carefully folding each corner of cloth and placing a kiss on his forehead, like a beautiful bow on a gift.

And then we'll read the prayer I wrote a few years ago to remind us again that not only at Christmas, but all throughout the year, Jesus came to dwell with us and in us! I know many of you read this already when I posted it here. But I needed it as a reminder today. Maybe someone else does, too.

The Manger of My Heart

The first Christmas gift, the greatest gift ever,
You came as a baby born in a manger.

Wrapped like the gifts I find under my tree,

Waiting to be opened, to reveal Your love to me.

This Christmas, Lord, come to the manger of my heart.
Search me and know the most intimate parts.

Reveal to me if I have ever hung a sign within,

Claiming it off limits, implying “no room at the Inn.”

Restore to me the wonder that came with Jesus’ birth,
He left the riches of Heaven
and wrapped Himself in rags of earth.

Emmanuel, God with us, Your presence came that night.

As angels announced, “Into your darkness,
God brings His Light.”

“Do not be afraid,” they said, to shepherds in the field.
Speak to my heart today, Lord, and help me to yield.

Make me like those shepherd boys, obedient to your call.

Casting distractions and worries aside,
to You I surrender them all.

Surround me with Your presence, Lord,
I long to hear your voice.

Clear my mind of concerns and all the holiday noise.

Slow me down this Christmas, let me not be in a rush.

In the midst of parties and planning,
I want to feel Your hush.

This Christmas, Jesus, come to the manger of my heart.
Invade my soul like Bethlehem, bringing peace to every part.
Dwell within and around me,
as I unwrap Your presence each day.
Keep me close to You, Jesus.
It’s in your wonderful Name I pray.

© 2010,
Renee Swope ~

So, what are your Christmas Eve plans? And if you don't read this until after Christmas, what were your plans and did they go as planned? I'd love to hear about it.

Hugs and Christmas blessings!


Blogger Jill said...

Merry Christmas Renee! I pray you have a wonderful day. I can relate to the pic not quite going according to plan. I so love your words in "The Manger of My Heart." I saved that with some Christmas things when you posted it in a previous year and have referred to it a few times this year. Blessings to you Renee, so thankful God crossed our paths! Jill

Blogger Patlayton said...

Beautiful poem Renee'. I hope it is IN your book, or GOING INTO the next book!!

As for the Christmas photos, THAT, my friend is the story of my life. I have learned to take what I get :)

Enjoy the snow in Charlotte!

What a beautiful poem. I also like the plan for your evening, you'll have to let us know how close to plan it went ;)

Blogger lisasmith said...

Girlfriend, I just love this Christmas picture!! And even today, after Christmas, I still need the reminder.
Love you, love you, love you!! lisa

Blogger Jenifer said...

I love your face in the picture! The picture is beautiful. Your poem is also beautiful! Hope you had a wonderful Christmas

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had to smile at the pic. Aster not wanting her picture made, the boys looked handsome, and then the smile on your face, which seemed to be saying, "Oh well".
The elders of our church go and take shifts...( my husband and father are elders) so my family- sometimes ALl of us go and have the Lord's Supper and pray together. It is a beautiful time. After that we get together with my side of the family and have dinner.

Blogger Cindy said...

Just stopped by and read your beautiful...As I have stated on FB my Christmas Eve was drastically changed when my hubby decided to spend it with Jesus...All I can say now is that I know He is at peace wrapped tightly in the arms of his Creator! Praying you Christmas day was as blessed as your Christmas Eve plans:)

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