The church fills up slowly, college students entering in chattering groups, older folk coming through in pairs and threesomes. An old, stooped man with stringy long hair, a Santa hat and a felt holiday vest thumps his way up to the front row.
Together, we all listen to the true mystery of Christmas, of Immanuel, God with us. God the creator and sustainer of the universe, who holds the stars in His hands and gives all things life and breath, chooses to lay aside His glory for a time to come into His creation.
He comes to redeem us.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
At the end of the service we sing an older song that is new to me, one that speaks of the life Jesus lived, of the purpose of His death, and of the promise of His return.
From the squalor of a borrowed stable,
By the spirit and a virgin's faith;
To the anguish and the shame of scandal
Came the Saviour of the human race!
But the skies were filled, with the praise of heav'n,
Shepherds listen as the angels tell
Of the Gift of God, come down to man
At the dawning of Immanuel
King of heaven now the Friend of sinners,
Humble servant in the Father's hands,
Filled with power and the Holy Spirit,
Filled with mercy for the broken man
Yes he walked my road, and He felt my pain,
Joys and sorrows that I know so well;
Yet His righteous steps, give me hope again -
I will follow my Immanuel!
Through the kisses of a friend's betrayal,
He was lifted on a cruel cross;
He was punished for a world's transgressions,
He was suffering to save the lost
He fights for breath, He fights for me
Loosing sinners from the claims of hell;
And with a shout, our souls are free -
Death defeated by Immanuel!
Now He's standing in the place of honour,
Crowned with glory on the highest throne,
Interceding for His own beloved
Till His Father calls us to bring them home!
Then the skies will part, as the trumpet sounds
Hope of heaven or the fear of hell;
But the Bride will run, to her Lover's arms,
Giving glory to Immanuel!
Our version was quicker, with more of a rock edge (trust me, it worked), but here is one sweet version of the song.