It’s Christmas morning as I begin this post, it’s nice and peaceful, and I’m feeling content. I tend to get contemplative on Christmas (see my other posts at The Wonder of Christmas, and Christmas is for Kids?), and today is no exception. But I am mostly thinking about last night on Christmas Eve.
My new church (First Baptist Church, Red Bank) had a lovely Christmas Eve service: there was a children’s pageant, lots of carols, and the traditional candle-light singing of “Silent Night.” But what I found most meaningful was that they also served communion … a time where we specifically remember Christ’s suffering and death.
You see, the cradle of the incarnation cannot be separated from the cross. The very reason that Christ needed to be born in the first place was so that He could die for our sin. We sing the carols, we enjoy the pageants, the lights, the colors and sounds and music; and all of them are wonderful and joyous. Yet there is a somber foreshadowing in what Simeon said to Mary in Luke 2:34-35: “34Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, ‘Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against 35(yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.'” He was born to take away our sin (1 John 3:5) and sorrow (Isa. 35:10); and to do it, He had to die. That is why we celebrate Christmas in the first place.
So, I wish you all a Merry Christmas, but I invite you to also remember the cross. We rejoice in our Lord’s great love, and all that it means for us. He was humbled (Phil. 2:8), that we might be free and enjoy Him forever.
Bare branches stretch against a deep blue starry twilight sky,
Their beauty sharp and bracing in the cold December air.
A wintry heart looks on them and sees only sorrow there –
But He who made the trees and stars hears every languid sigh …
Within, another tree’s aglow with colored lights and cheer;
Its branches full and green and bright with tokens of the season.
About it children laugh and play – they need no greater reason
Than joy of life and love and fun, unmatched throughout the year.
And on a hill, an empty cross, the final Christmas tree
Stands laden with the Promise of redemption for our race;
Both sorrowful and joyous, all find peace in His embrace,
Whose birth and death and life have opened all eternity.
Copyright © 2014 David B. Hawthorne