Friday, December 22, 2006

Christmas reflections: the way of the cross

When one looks at the experience of "the holy family", and considers the misunderstanding that surely continued, surrounding the unique circumstances of Mary's pregnancy, one sees that this was not at all, an easy or glamorous road they were directed on, by God. Simeon's words mark the way of the cross that was to be the path for this Messiah, quite unlike anything Jews expected, surely taking back Mary and Joseph.

The way of the cross we see now, as necessary for our salvation and the salvation of the world. Jesus pointed this out to his disciples as he showed them from Scripture, on more than one occasion that the Messiah would have to suffer and die. Then, as he also taught, he would be raised to life. Very hard sayings on more than one level at that time.

This way is lived out in humility, and obedience. It really begins with God choosing a humble maiden and goes on to the difficulties in the scandal of her pregnancy, as it is misunderstood. Then goes on to a stable and manger in which this Messiah is born. Then they have to flee to Egypt. Then return to Nazareth to live a regular and unremarkable -at least for any messiah- life. This goes on for quite some time. With the twelve year old Jesus' remarkable incident in the temple being an exception to the rule (at least to those other than Mary and Joseph), as he becomes simply known as the carpenter, and of the family of Mary and Joseph.

God continues to work this way today. In Jesus. Through those we would not even consider. And even in our own lives, we who know ourselves all too well. But Jesus beckons us too, to take up our cross, and follow him, as his resurrected people. People who, in Jesus have died and been raised to live a new life. Yet do so not yet glorified. Living as his Body here on earth, in the days of our humiliation, prior to our glorification.

The way of the cross, as the old hymn goes, it leads home! And there's no other way in Jesus, but this way.

What about us? Do we believe that? How does that belief reflect in our celebration of Christmas? And most importantly, how does that belief reflect on how we live from day to day, week to week, year to year?


L.L. Barkat said...

We like to include the cross in Christmas... on Christmas Eve we read from Exodus, about the Passsover, and then from Isaiah...he was wounded for our transgressions... and then we drink a creamy drink and eat a rich sweet to say, "Thank you, Jesus, for being our milk and honey, redemption from the wilderness."

Mark Goodyear said...

L.L. brings up the darkness of the cross (and the wonders of eggnog, mmmmm). I think the darkness always comes before the light. I heard someone talk about the angels who spoke to the shepherds. They said, "This day, a savior has been born." Now, I realize that the jewish days started at sundown, but what an eye opener. Here in the middle of the night, the shepherd's already looked forward with certainty to "this day."

That's what I think, Ted. To be Christian means to know with absolute confidence that the day is coming. The cross comes before the resurrection, but the cross also has every confidence of the resurrection.

Merry Christmas!

Ted Gossard said...

Thanks L.L. That is such a wonderful family tradition you have. If I had to do it all over again, we would have incorporated some things like that. Good and formative for family, and for us all (so I guess it's not entirely too late).

Ted Gossard said...

Amen, Mark! Well said, and this reminds me of how the beauty of God's creation reminds us of the reality of his new creation he is bringing to pass, and will bring to pass in Jesus. This is awesome.

And Merry Christmas to you, and to all others, as well!