December 25, 2021 – Christmas Day
I wish you a wonderful morning on this Christmas Day.
When I prepare a celebration of life service, I intentionally focus not just on the last days or years of a person’s life, be they 85 or 90 years old, for example. Wanting to praise God for “all of them,” we also praise God for this: a child playing in their yard, bringing their parents such joy, or a young man or woman graduating from high school, ready to take on the world, or standing at an altar, saying “I do.” All are a part of the whole and should not be separated as we remember and rejoice.
So, it is with this Christmas Day. While our focus, appropriately so, is squarely on the child, the cross must be just as present. The joy of the birth leads to the enormity of the sacrifice. The gift of the manger leads us to the amazing grace of the empty tomb. Separately, the meaning is lost; together, new life is offered.
In Mark 8:34, Jesus says to the crowd: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross…” While that may not feel like a “Christmas” reading, in truth, it is. In fact, how much more meaningful our kneeling at the manger will always be if we’re carrying our cross as we kneel. Humble worshipping; sacrificial following.
This morning, embrace our “both/and” faith. Celebrate this day both the gift of the child and the new life he makes possible.
Prayer: God of the manger, God of the cross, as we celebrate this day, we praise you joyfully. Amen.