BY John MacDuff, 1885
Almighty and Everlasting God, the Father of our Lord
Jesus Christ, we desire, on this sacred anniversary, to draw near, in His
name, to Your footstool. Our souls would magnify the Lord—our spirits would
rejoice in God our Savior; for He who is mighty has done great things for
us, and holy is His name. Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He has
visited and redeemed His people, and has raised up for us a horn of
salvation in the house of His servant David.
We look back with gratitude and joy to that memorable
night, when the angels appeared over the Plains of Bethlehem, proclaiming
that the promised Child was born, the promised Savior was given; that
through Him, while glory was secured to God in the highest, peace was
proclaimed on earth, and good-will to the children of men. We adore the
amazing condescension which brought the Lord of life and of glory from His
Throne in Heaven to that manger of humiliation; "God over all," dwelling in
union with an infant of days!
We desire to present ourselves before the Holy Child
Jesus, like the wise men of old, with the gold, and frankincense, and myrrh
of our best affections and deepest love. Had it not been for this
inconceivable stoop from the infinite to the finite—where would we have been
this day? Well may we join in the angelic song, and say, "Glory! eternal
glory be to God in the highest, for His best—His unspeakable gift; without
which, not one ray of hope or joy could have visited our doomed world." As
we gather in thought around His cradle, may our souls rise in lively
gratitude to Him who spared not His only Son, but freely gave Him up unto
death for us all. We will sing unto the Lord a new song, for He has done
marvelous things; His right hand and His holy arm have gotten Him the
victory. Thanks be unto God who gives us the victory, through the Lord Jesus
May we seek, by holy, righteous, and consistent lives—by
holy living and holy walking—to show that we are not insensible of all His
unmerited love and kindness. Blessed Jesus, make us Yours. Sanctify us
wholly—wean us from earth—train us for glory. Forbid that it should be said,
that for any of us, Bethlehem's manger was prepared in vain, and Bethlehem's
angel-song sung in vain. Contemplating You this day in Your humiliation,
when You were made in the likeness of man, may it be ours to look forward,
with holy joy, to Your second coming in the clouds of Heaven; Your tears,
and sorrows, and sufferings all past—when the Babe of Bethlehem—the sufferer
of Gethsemane—the crucified of Calvary—shall be seated on the Throne of
universal empire, and crowned "Lord of all."
We pray that Your holy name may be everywhere magnified.
Arise, O God, and plead Your own cause. May a dark world be soon cheered by
the wondrous proclamation we this day love to recall. May the "Prince of
Peace" take to Himself His great power and reign—causing men to beat their
swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks.
We pray for the afflicted—lead them too this day to
Bethlehem's Savior. Show them all that He was willing to do for them; and
may this reconcile them to bear patiently whatever trial He may see fit to
appoint; may they rejoice in His tender sympathy, remembering one great end
for which He descended to the lowly manger was, that in all points He might
be tempted even as they are.
Bless our children—let them be brothers and sisters of
Him who (once the lowly Child Jesus) is now an exalted Elder Brother on the
Throne. Give us all that is really good for us—withhold all that is evil.
May Your will be our only rule and directory; may we trust You in
everything; and look forward with joyful hearts to that better time, when we
shall be permitted, with a multitude which no man can number, to take up the
song of this day, and ascribe "glory to God in the highest," for that mercy
which, through His own dear Son, is to endure forever. And all we ask, is
for His sake. Amen.