I bring you good news of great
joy… Luke 2:10 (ESV)
A cross made of twisted branches stands near the front of the country church’s sanctuary. Each season, it is draped in different colored fabrics and this morning it wears a rich Christmas garment. Next to the cross sits a similarly crafted manger, with entwined branches framing its shape and hay filling its trough, signifying the coming birth.
Other decorations proclaim the joyful season. Poinsettias crowd around the pulpit, greenery and candles trim the windowsills, and an enormous wreath hangs on the back wall. Christmas music fills the morning air and everyone sings along to “What Child is This?”
As the last chorus fades, sunlight breaks through the clouds and streams through the windows. Warm light floods the front of the church, creating a cross-shaped shadow that falls across the little manger. The hushed moment gives testimony to something greater to the season than the expectation of a little baby.
Jesus, our Immanuel, fulfilled God’s promise; however the shadow of his purpose fell across him from the moment of his birth. The angels sang, “Peace on earth, goodwill to men,” but eventually Jesus would set his feet resolutely toward Jerusalem, faithfully obeying his Heavenly Father, even to death. Yet that was not the end. Like the sunlight beyond the cross, life lies beyond his birth and his death.
Thank You, Father, for Jesus who came to be our joy and peace, through His birth, His death, and His resurrection. Amen