Two times each year, I find myself in a quandary. It is sort of a chicken and egg problem – you know the one, “Which came first the chicken or the egg”? Of course, those of us who know God know the answer, don’t we. God made the chicken, he didn’t make the egg, the chicken did.
Here is my quandary—Which is more important in the Christian year, Christmas or Easter. If there were no Christmas then there could be no Easter, if there were no Easter there would be no resurrection. If there were no resurrection it would be as the Apostle Paul said, “We (who believe in Jesus and the resurrection) are to be pitied beyond all people. (1 Corinthians 15:17-19).
Of course I love both stories. I have a mental image of that young virgin and her much older husband as they were in the stable. Having spent some time in stables, I can imagine the sweet smells of hay and grain from the animals’ food and the not so sweet smells of the end result of the food the animals ate. I can hear the cattle lowing and the sheep as they bah, bah. A horse neighed and a camel grunted. They all moved in as close as possible as witnesses to the miracle that is unfolding before them.
Sweet Mary is whimpering as the birth pangs grow stronger. Gentle Joseph is attentively holding her and speaking soft words of encouragement. “Shhh, shhh, now breathe, and breathe”. At the miracle moment he says, “Push, Mary, push”. Suddenly a baby is born. Hear his first cry. I know the song says, “No crying he makes”, but this child is a human child, of course he cried and then Mary drew him gently to her breast and he suckled hungrily.
Angels announced his birth. The animals were astounded, even they knew they were seeing the King of kings and they looked on with adoration making their animal sounds of celebration.
Can you imagine that moment for Mary? I love Mark Lowry’s and Buddy Green’s song, “Mary did you know?” Think of the noble Joseph. He was charged with raising a son who would someday reveal the very nature of God to a world desperate for hope.
I love that special story and never tire of hearing it. I especially love the wonderful hymns that speak of the wonders of that earth-changing event.
I love the traditions of Christmas trees, and lighted decorations. I love the Santa Claus myth in its original form. I love the tradition of gift giving. At the same time, I hate the way the true Christmas story has been commercialized to the point that the birth of Jesus is overshadowed.
But I am still left with a quandary, as much as I love Christmas, I feel the same way about Easter. I suppose that it isn’t my responsibility to label them as more and less important. I just need to love and celebrate reach one in turn, and invite you to do the same.
So, Merry Christmas. No matter your state in life, you can give thanks for the gift you have been given. Jesus was born from the heart of God for you. If you were the only living person, Jesus would have died for you. God is love, receive his grace and be glad. AMEN