Sunday, December 18, 2011

Good Christians, fear

There's a school I know that, until recently, had a problem keeping their baby Jesus in the manger of their Nativity display.  It seems that some of its students had a problem with him being on display, and would steal him each year from the manger, to be returned on Christmas Eve.  After many attempts at reasoning with the students, and even threatening expulsion, the school finally came to the conclusion that if they wanted their baby Jesus on display, they had best find a way to make him permanent.   And so, this year, the baby Jesus was nailed to the manger.

There's a beautiful hymn in our Lutheran hymnals that is sung during the Christmas season in churches, and as a Christmas carol.  It paints a lovely picture of the manger scene- Mary holding the sleeping baby Jesus on her lap, the angels singing and the shepherds keeping watch.  "Good Christians, fear;" the hymn pleads- "for sinners here/the silent Word is pleading." And then comes the line that gives this hymn its meaning, its fullness, its depth; that tells us exactly why we ought to fear; and yet, so many want to cut it out.  "Nails, spear shall pierce him through,/the cross be borne for me, for you."

Without this line, the hymn is worthless.  The Christmas season is worthless.  I know it detracts from all the good feelings we want to be feeling- how good we are for getting such wonderful presents for our families, how merry we are to be spending time with our loved ones, how sweet a newborn child is.  But folks, unless we remember that the sweet little baby grew up to be nailed to a tree, Christmas is foolish.  Our good feelings are all we have, and we'll feel them fade as soon as a child scoffs at the gifts, a loved one dies, or Lent rolls around.  The coming season finds its worth and value not in a newborn babe, but in the grown man who died for us to give us hope a beyond the merriment of our festivities and our emotional highs. 

So rejoice! Your Savior is nigh!  And fear, good Christians; fear.  For Christmas isn't Christmas until we've driven the nails through Jesus.

No comments:

Post a Comment