(This article was one I originally wrote and published long before Blue Collar Christian Guy. This is a reprint of one of my favorites from 2015.)
Christmas day… finally here. Tis the season of bright wrapping papers, shiny tinsel adorning the family Christmas tree, favorite classic movies that play back-to-back for twenty-four hours straight, dinners, carols, and the oft repeated tale of the miracle of Christmas. It’s all so wonderful. I love the smells, the sounds, the dinners (a little too much sometimes), the carols, the candle lit church services. But something is missing in all of the hubbub, isn’t it? Tinsel and all the other festive decorations are never in short supply, and even though there is always some group out there bent on making sure no one refers to any religious motifs in the public square this time of year, encountering tales and images of the baby Jesus in the manger is common place. But where’s the blood? Why isn’t there any blood?
No, I don’t think that Halloween should be extended into the Christmas season so that gruesome images become part of our brightly lit front yard displays. And I’m certainly not advocating that we turn Santa’s reindeer into steaks and sausage, though I do love venison. What I’m talking about is the blood of sacrifice.
This year I have spent the weeks leading up to Christmas thinking a lot about the blood that so often seems to be missing from Christmas. We love to think about Christmas in terms of the silent and holy night, the peace and love now come to a land that had lain long in sin and error, the new born savior lying in the manger - but we rarely let the thought of the saviors blood flowing down the rough hewn timber of the cross enter our minds.
Last night (Christmas Eve), I participated in a service of Holy Communion, helping to administer the elements representing the broken body and shed blood of our Lord. Behind us at the front of the sanctuary a cross loomed large, starkly contrasted against the light colored background of the wall. And my thoughts repeatedly turned in the midst of the hand bells, the people, and the hymns, to Solomon’s words in Ecclesiastes…
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; (Ecclesiastes 3:1-7 ESV)
It is right that we celebrate the birth of Christ on this day. It is the time for that, just as there is a time for birth. But we do so knowing that the time for celebrating the birthday of Jesus will soon end, and the time will eventually come for remembering his death. We tend to forget that part of the story this time of year. We try not to look forward to Easter when we’re still celebrating Christmas, but Solomon was wise enough to know that though we celebrate one we must do so knowing that the time for the celebration will end and give way to the march of time. We mustn’t forget the blood.
Just as there is a time for birth and a time for death in the flesh, so too there is a time for birth and death in the spiritual sense. For everything there is a time, and now is the time for the new birth for those who have not yet experienced it. The time for death will come, like it or not. The Bible tells us that there is no fear in death if we have experienced new birth in Christ. It is appointed to man to live once and then to sit before the throne of the just and righteous Judge, who will call each of us to account. Let there be none this Christmas who do not kneel before the one whose birth we celebrate this day, trusting his perfect sacrifice on our behalf, so that in that day when we appear before God we can do so confident that the price of our sin, which keeps us all from heaven, has been paid in full. If you don’t know how to embrace all this for yourself, seek out a friend or a pastor who will help you. Now is the time, don’t put it off.
For those who are living new lives in Christ, this Christmas and each day following is the time for doing the work of Christ-followers, a time for telling of the Easter blood that will soon flow in our collective Christian memories. Let our song be clear and our service be acceptable in the sight of God. Let us remember and proclaim that our hope is not only in a life lived, but also in a life given - the life of Immanuel - God with us. This Christmas, may you know the hope, joy, and peace of new birth because of the blood of Easter.