The Christmas rush is with us. What is Christmas? Purchasing gifts; the tree, lights and tinsel; the turkey and ham; carol singing; the coming together of family and friends......and it goes on! Christmas is many things. There is also another side. The story of Christmas abounds with miracles and many strange and unusual events: the angelic appearances; the annunciation of the birth of Jesus - to Mary, to Joseph, and to the shepherds; the anthem of praise by the angelic choir, the star which guided the Magi; their warning in a dream not to return to Herod; Joseph directed by an angel into the land of Egypt, and later told to depart from Egypt; the birth of Jesus in a barn.
The Cradle: Cradled in the manger in Bethlehem on that first Christmas morning were all the hopes and dreams of a dying world. Those little hands which clasped the straw in the manger crib were soon to open blind eyes, unstop deaf ears, still the troubled seas; that voice was soon to be raised to command demons to depart, teach men and women the way of life, and raise the dead; those tiny feet were to take Him to the sick and the needy, and were finally to be pierced on the Cross at Calvary.
The Cross: It is impossible to celebrate Christmas and ignore Calvary. Jesus was born to die. It was His death and resurrection that gave meaning to His birth. It is the Cross that gives meaning to life.
The Crown: Centuries before Christ was born, Isaiah had envisioned the first Christmas. "A child is born to us! a son is given to us! and He will be our ruler!" (Isaiah 9:6). Christ was born a King. That was the message the wise men of the east heard.
At His birth, Jesus was laid in a manger. At His death he wore a crown of thorns. And the King is coming again. This is the promise of Christmas, this is our hope, this is the Christmas star that lights our evening darkness.
As you go about shopping and you hear the carols playing in the stores, pause and reflect on the promise of Christmas and the hope it brings to us all.
December 13, 1998