We took Communion at church this Sunday.
I followed the line of other believers up to the front, received the fragment of bread and tiny cup of deep red juice. As I held them, heading back for my seat, I passed the Christmas trees, still decked with their red and gold balls and twinkling lights…and a rough wooden manger filled with straw.
And something caught in my throat.
I sank back into my seat, cradling the elements in my hands and fighting a blur from my eyes as I gazed at the bright decorations around me, the evergreen-draped wooden cross up front.
The bread and wine. The body and blood. The manger.
This is the why of Christmas.
The past week has been a good one in many ways, but not all easy. It has held unexpecteds and sickness and stresses. I have been anxious, have snapped at my family. I have been irritable and selfish and not trusted the Lord to get it right.
I have felt my need of a Savior.
Over and over the message of the angel to Joseph presses in my heart with its healing touch of mercy—to Joseph, who was confused and anxious too, who didn’t know how to handle this unexpectedness of God turning his life upside down:
“…and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
Zechariah spoke of this mercy too, prophesying over his eight-days-old baby boy John, who would
“…give to His people the knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, with which the Sunrise from on high will visit us…to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
I need Him, that Sunrise from on high, to guide my feet into the way of peace. To help me trust Him, and love, and remember that Christmas means not just a baby in a manger, but a baby who came to give Himself for sinners…for me.
God rest ye merry, gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay
Remember Christ our Savior was born on Christmas day
To save us all from Satan’s power
When we were gone astray
O tidings of comfort and joy…
Christmas is not over at our house. We’ve only just cleared the gifts from under the tree. Its branches still glimmer with multi-colored lights each night, and we turn on the electric candles in the windows. We’re still playing Christmas music.
And this coming weekend, on the 11th day of Christmas—by God’s grace amid much sickness among the cast—we’re holding a readers’ theater premiere of a script that’s been growing in my heart and hard drive for several years now…one that explores what it might have been like to be Mary and Joseph and the shepherds and wise men, those real people who experienced the incarnation of our living God into this dark world two thousand years ago.
And I’m thankful, that Christmas isn’t over, and that we get another chance to walk through this Story of stories still this week. For I need it, need the reminder, of Who not just this season, but all of history is about.
He came to save us all from Satan’s power, when we were gone astray. And He still comes.
How has Christmas driven the gospel home to you this year? Please comment and share!