Summary: Christ gives us hope that death no longer has dominion, but works backwards to produce life.
“Death Working Backwards”
Scripture: John 1:1-18
The life of Jesus is filled with what skeptics would call “impossibilities.” From the very moment the egg in Mary’s womb was fertilized by the Holy Spirit, to his long-predicted birth in Bethlehem, to his being sent and called out of Egypt, to the many miracles attributed to him; Jesus’ life is overflowing with one “impossibility” after another.
Peter Larson has written the following thought: “Despite our efforts to keep him out, God intrudes. The life of Jesus is bracketed by two impossibilities: a virgin’s womb and an empty tomb. Jesus entered our world through a door marked ‘No Entrance’ and left through a door marked ‘No Exit.’” – Peter Larson, Prism (Jan/Feb 2001)
It’s important to note the brackets of Jesus’ life here on earth. Jesus’ life is not summarized in his miraculous birth, but also in his miraculous resurrection. To see his birth is to look for his death. To see his death is to look for something more: his resurrection! The warmth and fuzziness of Christmas must give way to the cold and inhospitable climb to Calvary. And Calvary screams out for something more: his glorious resurrection on Sunday morning!
In a land where it is “always winter and never Christmas” there is also never a death and a resurrection. Christmas must point to something more than just a baby in a manger. That’s only a small part of the story! But if we as humans took in the whole picture we might not grasp it all, so we pick and choose the things we want to center our thoughts on!
It’s a wonderful thing that Christmas falls on Sunday this year. It gives us a chance to really take a close look at the life of Jesus so that we can see all parts and how interconnected they are. It’s a sad thing that many of the churches across the US have closed their doors today so that their members can spend time with their families and have a nice cozy Christmas by the fireplace, open their gifts and just a have a nice time. Maybe some of us have wondered why we had services today because it sure makes things awfully rushed to try to get the gifts open, because “We always open our gifts on Christmas morning!” and then try to get to church on time. Wow! It’s just too busy!
But a Sunday Christmas gives us a chance to look at Jesus’ birth in connection with his resurrection! Celebrating his birth on Sunday gives us a chance to see more than the stable.
For this advent and Christmas season I have chosen to reflect on the classic work by C.S. Lewis to explain the meaning behind the season. Initially we looked at what our life would be like if we had “always winter and never Christmas.” Many are stuck in that land. Even though they may have their holiday tree displayed nicely in the living room, or they may say “Happy holidays” at the checkout, they are stuck in the mire of never seeing the true meaning behind the holiday! There is hope because Jesus Christ is on the move!
We then looked at the peace that Jesus gives by contrasting what the world thinks of peace and the words of Jesus Christ when he said, “I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” The question that Lucy asked of Mr. Beaver: “Is he safe?” met with a response that told us the nature of Christ. “Safe? Course he isn’t safe! But he is good!” It’s no wonder that there seems to be a war on Christmas. While many kitty-at Christians would like to see a safe and cozy Christmas, the enemies of Christ are very aware that their life would change drastically if Christmas came in its full meaning!
Then we saw that the presents which God has given to each of us is a fruit basket filled with tools, not toys. Many like to play at Christmas. In fact many like to play at their entire life. Work is not something they strive for! Life is serious and there are serious consequences involved with life. That’s not to say that life isn’t fun, oh no, it’s fun alright! When we use the tools God has given us in the manner in which they were to be used, there’s nothing more fun than that! There’s nothing more fun than a life overflowing with extravagant love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. When our Christmas is marked by these tools there will be an overflowing of those gifts within our world!
Then last week as we closed out our advent celebration we looked at what love means. “Here is you brother, and – there’s no need to him about what is past.” Parties are a big part of the Christmas celebration. How we deal with the irregular people in our lives reflects who we are as children of God.