As you read this, you may still be making frantic preparations for tomorrow. Presents still need to be wrapped, the turkey for Christmas dinner must be thawed, and perhaps a guest bedroom needs to be made up for family or friends arriving tonight.
Or, if you are among the ''be prepared'' crowd, it all may have been finished in advance. This evening you need only enjoy dinner, relax and, for many of you, bundle up to go to Christmas Eve services at church.
If you are among those who, individually or as part of an organized campaign, work to help the needy at Christmas, you may be planning a last-minute delivery of toys for the tots or holiday dinner for a family. Bless you.
Whatever your situation, this evening is a special one for those who celebrate Christmas both thoughtfully and with great joy. Tonight is a time of quiet, contented contemplation - of anticipation that has nothing to do with the gaily wrapped packages under the Christmas tree.
It may be that your home will be visited by carolers this evening. Whether they are present in person or are merely visions and echoes in the mind matters not. Their music is among the most beautiful we know.
The words are familiar, the melodies beautiful and soothing.
From ''It Came Upon a Midnight Clear'':
It came upon the midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth,
To touch their harps of gold!
Peace on the earth, good will to men,
From heaven's all gracious King!
The world in solemn stillness lay,
To hear the angels sing.
From ''O Little Town of Bethlehem'':
O little town of Bethlehem,
How still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by.
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light;
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight.
From ''Joy to the World'':
Joy to the world, the Lord is come;
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing ...
For a time tonight and on Christmas Day, the many trials and travails of our hustle-bustle everyday lives will be put aside. Troubling headlines about the economy, politics, war and the threat of it, will seem less important.
For Christians, there is bigger, vastly more important, news to ponder.
From ''Silent Night'':
Silent night, holy night!
All is calm, all is bright.
Round yon Virgin, Mother and Child.
Holy infant so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace,
Sleep in heavenly peace.