19 December 2011

Immanuel--at the Altar

Immanuel—at the Altar
It is Christmas. Have you found the way to Bethlehem? It is important to make straight the pathway of the Lord into your hearts. That duty is now done. Now take your pilgrim-staff and your gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. You will not have to stop off at Jerusalem to inquire the way. The Altar is your Star. There you find Bethlehem.

Bethlehem means “house of bread.” Indeed, “bread of life,” “staff of life.” You will come, then, as the shepherds came. You will kneel as they did in adoration. And if your vision of faith is clear enough, you will see at the Altar not merely bread and wine, but the Christ-Child, the Word made flesh. After Christmas? You will do the same as did the Wise Men. They went home by another way, not by way of Jerusalem. You will go another way, the way of new life. And with the shepherds you will make known abroad all that you have seen and realized. The confession—“Who for us men and for our salvation came down from Heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary and was made man,” will be more than a vague truth, more than an historical event. Christmas will be an experience. You will truly understand the truth of the angelic words: “They shall call His Name Immanuel, which is being interpreted, God with us,” aye, Immanuel—at the Altar.

--Berthold Von Schenk (1895-1974) The Presence. p. ?? (Quoted in For All the Saints, III:135-136.)

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