This was in my church’s weekly devotional sheet… I thought it was perfect for today’s post:
"The Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many."
Jesus was born in the shadow of the cross.
It’s a different sort of tree than we are accustomed to see in celebrating Jesus as each Christmas rolls around. The "tree" of the cross was anything but a venerated, holy symbol in Jesus’ world – and it was gore, not goodies, piled up beneath it. The Roman statesman Cicero called crucifixion "the most cruel and agonizing penalty." Jewish historian Josephus called it "the most wretched of deaths." It was a hideous death reserved for rebels and riff-raff – and Jesus was crucified between two of them. Most wannabe Messiahs ended up there, so Jesus looked like just another messianic loser. "And so we preach Christ crucified – a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Greeks, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God."
Raw love adorning a tree. "Green wood" treated as deadwood. The pain of a sword thrust laying our hearts bare.
The early Roman church called it "mass" – each celebration of communion regarded as an unbloody reenactment of Golgotha. "Mass" is from "missa" – from the closing phrase after each communion: "Ite, missa est" = "Go, you are dismissed." And so we come to Christ’s Mass – the dismissal of our shame and the banishment of despair through divine grace flowing to us all from the first tree of Christ Mass.
I hope yours has been a wonderful day… not just the gifts and the food and the family. Whether we have those things or not isn’t really the point… it might be nice, but not the point. The point is Christ – born to us as a baby through a miracle of love and grace. May that belief be your gift this Christmas. ~Ann~