Wickle over at A True Believer’s Blog offers a profound view of why Christmas is, often times, a holiday we prefer over Easter.
My pastor speculated that it’s because it’s really easy to deal with the baby in the manger. There He is, being born, there are shepherds around because God loves poor people, there are angels because it’s a big deal, and magi because they’re there to celebrate. Great. We can deal with this.
Once you take that baby and make Him into a man, He becomes harder to handle. He said things, He did things, and He called us to be changed. Then, He died and came back out of the tomb.
God out of the tomb is completely unmanageable. We can’t hold that one back, limit Him, or try to pretend that it’s just a nice story. The Nativity can be trivialized and tamed – the Resurrection can’t.
There is talk about how to “keep Christ is Christmas,” or whether Christians should observe Christmas at all, and just about everything in between.
For my own part, I think that it’s fine to observe Christmas as a remembrance of the event. But while we’re at it, let’s remember that the Incarnation of God on earth wasn’t an end unto itself. He came to the earth to live, teach, die, and rise again. He didn’t stay in the manger.
That’s part of why I was so excited to see the second chorus of “What Child is This?” when I read it. Right there in the Christmas song, it reminded us that He came not to be born as a baby and stop there, but to be pierced with nails and a spear (among the other things that ripped His flesh that day). It wasn’t His birth that redeems us, it was His death.
Yes, by all means, celebrate the birth. The birth of Jesus is the beginning of the process that leads us to the death and resurrection, which is what makes it possible for any of us to have eternal life.
But let’s never forget that ours isn’t a God in a manger, He didn’t stay wrapped up in swaddling clothes, and He sure wasn’t a baby forever.
Regarding the second verse of “What Child Is This”, mentioned above, here it is:
Why lies He in such mean estate,
Where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christians, fear, for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.
Nails, spear shall pierce Him through,
The cross be borne for me, for you.
Hail, hail the Word made flesh,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.
Praise Him for His incarnation!