Sunday, December 25, 2011

25th December

It’s been a long time since I felt this full. I’ve enjoyed wonderful food, again, and the best of company, being with my family. And this really has to be the most special celebration season of the year, where our whole family gather together for several days, sometimes in different combinations, but nonetheless we put on a good party. I can’t remember seeing my grandkids get so excited over presents; it was lovely to see the surprised look on their faces. But this happiest of days was also for us the saddest Christmas ever and at times really challenging. I completely broke down as my son-in-law was about to give thanks just before we ate and I so much appreciated the understanding hug that my daughter gave me. It’s a shame that I couldn’t control my emotions but with very few exceptions I’ve decided not to. When you need to cry, wherever you are, just do it. I’m way past embarrassment. The love I’ve lost demands unrestricted grief and that’s what I’m living with… for a season.

I need to always keep things in perspective and today has it’s own special remembrance other than just a family party. So, yes I know that Jesus was probably not born on December 25th, and that there are all manner of theories regarding the true date, I don’t consider that to be too important. I’m not interested in the fact that it once was a pagan mid-winter festival… for many it still is. That’s freedom. I was once an ungodly man walking along a pathway outside of God’s pleasure but I changed. For many believers so has December 25th. And the Queen has a public birthday different for her true one, so why not the Lord? The Bible was written by people with very different traditions from our own; so whilst I always enjoy listening to those with an understanding of Jewish celebratory days, and more rarely come across an arithmetical exposition of Old Testament prophesy, I cannot claim to have properly got my head around the understanding of the actual birth date. And the Bible covers the whole subject in only an abbreviated way, focussing more upon the life and death of Christ than his birth. So the detail surrounding the virgin birth of the Saviour of the World, God come to dwell with man, is not as important as the simple fact that it happened.

The Bible and specifically the Christmas story have a depth that we can but barely begin to grasp though, and there are lots of stories I’ve come across that I do enjoy. For me they add a little local colour whilst fleshing out the fact that God is the author of history from beginning to end and from generation to generation. Israel, as seen in the Old Testament, lived under the Law of Moses… a sacrificial system of worship where the sins of the people were paid for with the death of animals. Often lambs. A very powerful reminder of the consequences of wrongdoing! And of course our sinless Lord took upon himself the sin of the world, and gave himself to die on the cross; thus becoming the one time sacrificial lamb for all mankind. 2,000 years ago the Jerusalem Temple - 5 miles from Bethlehem - was staffed only by the Tribe of Levite and some of these were assigned to care for the flocks of sheep on the nearby hills. They were trained to spot lambs that were completely without ‘spot or blemish’ and suitable for Temple sacrifice. So who would have been better qualified than they to visit the manger where Jesus was born… with a little angelic guidance of course. And where better than a stable could ‘The Lamb of God’, the ultimate and final sacrifice have been found?

Matthew 2:1 ‘Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod’ (NLT)

No comments: