It is Christmas Eve, and the hustle and bustle of preparing for the big day is nearly ended.
Gifts have been purchased and wrapped. The Christmas tree is decorated, with special attention to treasured ornaments that have special meaning. Some of the food for tomorrow has been prepared and, with any luck, finishing the holiday meal will not be difficult.
Time now to take a break, relax and reflect upon the meaning of Christmas.
It is a celebration of the most momentous birth in all history, that of the Son of God, Jesus Christ. Those of the Christian faith mark the day as important - nay, vital - in our own lives. It was, in a way, the beginning of a beginning for humankind.
Tonight, as Christians think with joy of what the day to come means, it is ironic in a way that the peace symbolized by our faith is more noticeable than on Christmas Day itself.
Again, this evening brings with it a kind of calm not present during the rest of the year - and certainly not a feature of Christmas Day itself.
Christmas Eve is a time when the night seems friendly to us, when even the cold weather feels right.
Among the most beloved Christmas carols of all time is "Silent Night," now nearly two centuries old. Both the words, translated into scores of languages, and the melody are calming, reassuring and beautiful.
Silent Night, holy night
All is calm, all is bright...
And so it is tonight for hundreds of millions of men, women and children all over the globe.
It is Christmas Eve, and once again we gather in the warmth of our families to rejoice and thank God for the most wonderful gift ever given.
Relax, then, and reflect upon our faith and the overwhelming joy of Christmas, on this most beautiful of all evenings.