Friday, December 29, 2006

Isaiah 12:1-6; Psalm 18:21-50; Revelation 1:1-8; John 7:37-52

Here we are several days after Christmas Day. On Christmas Day and in the season following, we recall and rejoice in the birth of Jesus, his coming into this world. It is a time of great joy, for in this birth we perceive and receive in a new and tangible way God’s tender, abiding care for us and for all creation. A child is born. Alleluia! He is God with us, in mercy and love, and we are graced.

But the story of a child is only part of the story, only the beginning of the narrative of his life. His birth points forward toward his death, his loving and saving sacrifice on the cross. Jesus is born and not only will die but is born to die, for us and for the world.

Yet, likewise, the story of a death is only part of the story, only the beginning of the glory of his life. He died, but he did not stay dead. God raised him to new life, beyond all human imagining, for us and for the world.

Late in his life, John the apostle, long beloved by and devoted to the incarnate-crucified-risen Jesus, wrote down this Revelation. Central to the book is the reality that Jesus is the key to history, to life itself – John’s, yours, and mine. The child we celebrate at Christmas is the one we mourn on Good Friday, welcome on Easter, and worship at Ascension. This Jesus is savior and lord of all creatures and things, great and small and all between.

During the Christmas season, let us welcome the birth of this child with mirth and merriment! For in his life, grace and glory abound more than all the stars in the sky! At the same time, let us anticipate with sharp pangs in our hearts the death this child will face, for his birth means a cross. Thus, let us both weep and rejoice at his birth then his death, for they create life beyond all imagining for us. The babe crying in Bethlehem is the Lamb ruling from the throne of God. He is our beginning, our ending, and our beginning again, now and ever. To him we give our praise, our love, our life.

- Gregory Strong

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