For some time now, many Christians have felt as if their faith was on the defensive. Adherents to some other faiths mock ours. A few claim their differing beliefs justify murdering Christians.
Even here in the United States, where the vast majority of people are Christians, the faith has been under assault in some ways. Christians are told that displaying our own beliefs is viewed in some manner as wrong.
But any defensiveness Christians feel comes to an end tonight. It is Christmas Eve, and tomorrow brings the joyous celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.
Special Christmas Eve church services will be held throughout Columbiana County tonight, as the faithful prepare our hearts for the day to come.
Tonight, our preparations for Christmas wind down to a close. On this most special of all evenings in the year, peace and calm wrap Christians in a warm embrace.
The words of beloved old hymns come to mind, whether we are able to hear them from carolers or church choirs - or only in our minds.
"Joy to the world - the Lord has come ..."
"Oh come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant ..."
"Away in a manger, no crib for a bed ..."
"Oh little star of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie ..."
"Angels we have heard on high, sweetly singing o'er the plains ..."
"Hark! The herald angels sing, 'Glory to the newborn king' ..."
"It came upon the midnight clear, that glorious song of old ..."
"The first Noel, the angels did sing, was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay ..."
"What child is this, who laid to rest, on Mary's lap is sleeping ..."
In stages for some, quickly for others, the confidence of Christianity among believers reaches a peak tonight. The criticisms and skepticism of others matter not. It is Christmas Eve. On the morrow those of the faith - more numerous, incidentally, than adherents of any other religion in the world - will revel in our celebration of the most glorious birth in history.
Tonight, there is no room for doubt. There is only the beauty of our faith.
"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 ..."