Friday, December 2, 2011

From the Cradle to the Cross

If you get the chance to drive by Everett and Elayne Bielby's house during the Christmas season, you will see in front of their home a very simple decoration - usually the only one displayed - a cross in blue lights. This cross was made by Everett's father when Everett was very young (and he says that was a long time ago!). And in years past if you would take a drive down Irongate Street in Woodhaven to view the beautiful decorations on homes, you would have noticed straight ahead down the street, a lighted cross in someone's front yard. I don't ever recall seeing crosses at Christmas time, do you? I like the idea though because it truly points to the real reason that Jesus came.

Even when the angel announced the future birth of Jesus to Joseph, he said that Mary would have a son. They were to name Him Jesus "for he shall save his people from their sins." Matthew 1:21. Jesus came with a save sinners. "For even the Son of man came, not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many." Mark 10:45.


So you see, the cradle in that manger stall and the cross of Calvary go hand in hand. Why celebrate one without the other! The wonder of the virgin birth of Immanuel gave way to the cruelty of the substitutionary death on Good Friday and eventually to the triumphant resurrection of Christ on Easter. Christmas opens the story of redemption and the cross contains a new chapter. The book will soon be completed when Christ returns again to take us home to eternally be with Him.

During the Christmas season in some past years we have sung a special hymn for our communion service in December. This song beautifully ties together the cradle and the cross. I cannot sing it without tears.

A Communion Hymn for Christmas

Gathered round Your table on this holy eve,
Viewing Bethlehem's stable we rejoice and grieve:
Joy to see You lying in Your manger bed.
Weep to see You dying in our sinful stead.

Prince of Glory, gracing Heaven ere time began.
Now for us embracing death as Son of Man:
By Your birth so lowly, by Your love so true,
By Your cross most holy, Lord, we worship You!

Bethlehem's Incarnation, Calvary's bitter cross,
Wrought for us salvation by Your pain and loss;
Now we fall before You in this holy place, 
Prostrate we adore You, for Your gift of grace.

With profoundest wonder we Your body take
Laid in manger yonder, broken for our sake:
Hushed in adoration we approach the cup -
Bethlehem's pure oblation freely offered up.

Christmas Babe so tender, Lamb who bore our blame,
How shall sinners render praises due Your name?
Do Your own good pleasure in the lives we bring;
In Your ransomed treasure reign forever King!

(words by Margaret Clarkson)

I believe that Mary gradually began to understand throughout Jesus' life the price for sin that He came to pay. The Bible tells us that she pondered these things in her heart. Knowing that Jesus would not always be "hers", she must have savored each moment and each day with this unusual child.

As you celebrate this joyous season with your family, my prayer is that you will take a few moments each day to lovingly gaze into the face of your sleeping baby, to snuggle your toddler, and to give your older child a big savor each day we are given with these dear children. Let's not forget the wonder of their birth just as Mary must have wondered. And in her life, her own son became her Savior. "And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior." Luke 1:47. Is He your Savior and Lord? what better time to acknowledge His cross as you celebrate His cradle!