“Yea, Lord, we greet thee, born this happy morning.” (from “O Come, All Ye Faithful”)
I asked a lot of questions in The Race Before Us. It seems sometimes I cannot leave good enough alone. But, for a few weeks now we have been greeted with and have greeted others with “Merry Christmas”. I thought it appropriate to remember why we are merry – and, just to get the obvious out of the way, its not because there may be a new iPad, a pearl necklace, a dollhouse, or “Rock ’em – Sock ’em” Robots under the tree “just for me”.
So, why be “merry” today? The obvious answer is because Jesus was born, and while the birth of a new born is typically a happy occasion, there is no birth in history that is remembered and celebrated more than the birth of Jesus. So, the question becomes – why are we or should we be merry because of Jesus’ birth. Last night we sang many traditional Christmas songs with well-known lines like “Christ the Savior is born” (“Silent Night“) and “Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns” (“Joy to the World“). These hymns also included such familiar verses as “God and sinners reconciled” (“Hark! The Herald Angels Sing“) and “Cast out our sin and enter in, be born in us today” (“O Little Town of Bethlehem“).
I know what you’re probably thinking – “Why did you have to bring ‘sin” into this? I was with you when you were talking about Rock’em – Sock’em Robots”. Last year I taught a class at Sunday School called “66 Books – One Story,” where we discussed how the Bible has a single story line – from Genesis to Revelation, there is one story about man’s relationship with God – how it went badly and how God initiated a plan to rescue or redeem his people. (The fancy words for this are “biblical theology”.) It is in that context that I’d like to answer the question of “why be ‘merry’ today?
Our hymns speak of the “savior” being born – so, we should ask, “from what are we being saved”? And, “how is it that Jesus is going to save us?” Fortunately, the hymns offer the answers as well. Jesus will save us from sin, which keeps us from a right relationship with God. Hence, it is Jesus that “reconciles” us with and to God. Back to the biblical theology – Jesus completes God’s plan to rescue us, to put us in a “right” relationship with God – and (while it is Christmas time, not Easter) Jesus completes the rescue/reconciliation through His death on the cross.
So, if you wanted them (as I so badly did as a child), I hope the Rock’em-Sock’em Robots are under your tree this morning. But we really should be “merry” today (and everyday) because the birth of Jesus begins the final phase of our salvation – our ultimate reconciliation with God.
I know you knew all of that, but the question occurred to me and I wanted to remind myself of the answer and it always helps when I write things out.
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)