My brother-in-law, James Cameron, was dining in a restaurant in Glasgow, Scotland, when he felt that the service was not as good as it should be.
"I should tell you," he warned, "that my initials are J. C., and I was born on Christmas Day."
"Oh", she said, unimpressed. "Then you will not be looking forward to Easter, will you?"
For probably the only time in his life, James was speechless.
The waitress was right. There is no Christmas without Easter, no manger without the cross, and no holy Child without the resurrection.
For thousands of people, the only Jesus they know is a child in a manger, but like everyone else in the nativity scene, Bethlehem was just one stop on His return trip. Thousands more believe that He completed His return trip when He returned with Mary and Joseph to Nazareth. But they are wrong.
His return trip began and ended in glory.
John 1:1,14a – In the beginning the Word [Jesus] already existed. The Word was with God and was God. So the Word became human and made his home among us. (NLT)
"Became human!" What an astounding claim. That He would take on our form, then endure unbelievable pain for us is almost beyond belief. But not quite. Not when we reach out to Him and invite Him into our hearts. Then we know that He conquered death and returned to paradise, that He will be coming again, and that in the meantime, His Spirit lives within us and will never leave us nor forsake us.
All this, and more, is in the Christmas story.
Prayer: Dear Lord and heavenly Father, as we celebrate the birth of Your Son, our Redeemer, may we also remember the full story, even as we enjoy the holidays, the reunions, the gifts, the food. "O Holy Child of Bethlehem, descend to us we pray. Cast out our sin and enter in. Be born in us today." In the name of Jesus Christ our Saviour, we pray. Amen.
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Listen while you read: "Infant Holy Infant Lowly" (Lyrics)