Softly now. Softly. Walk with care; handle the stuff of life with gentle hands.

Settle slowly into your chair and seek the stillness. The child is coming and your heart will not be fully warmed until you see him.

Softly now. Softly he comes. Handle the stuff of eternity with the gentlest of hands.

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In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child.

Luke 2:1-5

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An essential part of the season is the gift of surprise: the unexpected present, the unforeseen snow, the sudden visit from your Aunt Edna and her tin of homemade fruitcake cookies, the kiss under the mistletoe, the selfless acts of charity and love.

Emperor Augustus, ruler of the oppressive Roman Empire, never suspected that his decree would lead to the Messiah being born in Bethlehem. In the midst of a conquering military regime, Mary, along with Joseph, arrived in the little town, bearing in her womb the one true ruler and king of creation. In the silent night, the biggest surprise of all humanity was about to be revealed — a child who would turn all the empires and kingdoms in the world upside down.

Andy Acton

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Surprise the world, O Emmanuel, with unconditional love and peace. Help me to receive it fully into my heart and life. Amen.

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Eternity has whispered your name
And so you have waited,
Waited with great anticipation
While preparing yourself for the coming of God's great gift.

Now the gift is near.
Waiting is almost over.
The anticipated arrival is close at hand
And your preparation is soon accomplished.

Andy Acton

Andy Acton is the associate pastor for youth and mission and outreach at Pleasant Hill Presbyterian Church in Duluth, Georgia. Andy lives with his wife Elizabeth, their 5-year-old daughter Katie, their newborn son Davis, his mother-in-law, two Labradors, and a cat.

Once in Royal David's City

Jim Morgan

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