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Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Christmas Eve

"Twas the night before Christmas"   So starts the popular poem that, as far as I know, provided the modern picture of "Santa Claus" - a corruption of Saint Nicholas.   The poem was written at the end of the 18th, or the beginning of the 19th, century and is now a part of traditional folklore.  Of course, it is pure, unadulterated, fiction - the one lie that even the majority of Christian parents happily pass on to their children!

Some 1900 years earlier, a different story was enacted - and this one is fact, not fiction.  In the unimportant town of Bethlehem in the Roman province of Judea, a child was born.  There was, as far as the record goes, nothing special about the birth.  The expression "virgin birth" is a wee bit misleading - it was a virginal conception but, after that, everything seems to nave gone as it would with any successful pregnancy.   What was really special about this Child was that, while he was borne by a young girl (Mary was, in the contemporary culture, probably only about 14 years of age), the husband of that girl, the carpenter Joseph, was not the Child's father.  Indeed, we are assured, this Child had no human father.  His conception was miraculous because it was Almighty God Who caused the egg in Mary to be fertilised, without a male sperm!  This Child was, truly, both human and divine.

And that begs the question: "Why?"   Why could He not have been a 'normal' Child Who was then, as some have suggested, 'adopted' by Almighty God at His baptism?   Why could He not have been a 'normal' Child endued with miraculous powers?   Why did He have to be so digfferent from any other person ever to be born?

The answer is really very simple, and has to do with the reason for His birth.  This was not a child who merely gave great joy to his biological parents.  This was the Child with a special mission - "... to destroy the works of the devil." (I John 3:8).  

One of the songs that, traditionally, is sung at this time of the year, is "Christians, awake, salute the happy morn,"   Unlike many of the favourite carols, it takes us beyond the Christmas story.  In the fifth verse we sing:
          Like Mary, let us ponder in our mind
          God's wondrous love in saving lost mankind;
          Trace we the Babe, Who has retrieved our loss,
          From His poor manger to His bitter cross.

That was how He achieved His purpose.  In Hebrews 2:14-15 we read, "Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise partook of the same nature, that through death He might destroy him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage."   You see, because Jesus rose from the dead, He showed that He was, and is, more powerful than it.  This, in turn, shows Him to be more powerful than the devil - the one who, currently, has the power of death!

I have already commented on the tragic incident in Glasgow, and do not wish to repeat what I said there.  However, we know that, prior to the Rapture of the true Church, each one of us will experience physical death.  This, for many, is something that they try to avoid - even to deny.  But for those who are "in Christ Jesus" (see Eph.2:13, inter al), there is no fear of death.  We are one with the One Who has conquered it!

This Christmas-time, permit me to encourage you to look beyond the tinsel, and the turkey, and the trimmings; beyond the presents, and the parties, and the Perignan.  Look to the One Who truly is the reason for the season - to Him Who loves you, and gave Himself for you.  Look to Jesus - to the One Who alone can save you from your sinfulness.  Kneel, not at the manger, but at the foot of the cross, and own Him as Your Saviour and Lord.

It will be to His eternal glory - and for your eternal good.

A very Happy Christmas to one and all.



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