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The manger is pointless . . .

December 22, 2009

without the cross.  As we approach Christmas, many traditions, plans and hopes fill our minds.  Central in many believers celebrations this Friday will include a reading of portions of Luke 1 and 2, the Christmas story.  Typically, Christmas is filled with reflections on Mary and Joseph, angelic pronouncements, shepherds scarred out of their wits, powerful men from eastern lands, threatenings of a despot and a little baby lying in a manger on a silent, holy night in the little town of Bethlehem.  We don’t often consider just how inconsequential all those things would have been if not for the cataclysmic, but not catastrophic, end to that baby’s life some 33 years later.  Without the cross, the manger is truly pointless.  We have no reason to celebrate the birth of Christ apart from the death of Christ.  We have no joy to offer the world without the joy unspeakable found in being reconciled to God through the suffering of Christ.   Christ’s death is the only means to peace with God, and so even the angelic announcement to the shepherds is empty without the cross.  I want to wish each of you a very merry Christmas, but not a Christmas devoid of Christ and not a Christmas filled solely with stories of mangers and shepherds.  I want to wish you a Christmas filled with the amazement of a God who would deign to become flesh.  I want to wish you a Christmas of worship, as you humble yourself before the One who was willing to become a man so you might be redeemed.  I want to wish you a Christmas of sheer joy as you celebrate the infinite grace of our loving Lord.

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