The Manger, the Cross, an Empty Tomb and a Kingdom Come

And so it is Christmas morning 2009: truly the Feast of Christ’s Nativity. And as we, in our family, read the Scriptures this morning from Luke (very, very early this morning due to a 15-year-old boy who is still in wonder at this Day, as his mother and father are too!), we read the Magnificat and the Benedictus. And we remembered our spiritual forefathers and mothers in a Babylonian-like empire who took a stand and refused to bow the knee to Caesar, but instead transformed some ancient European mythology and pagan religious devotion into a day to mark our Savior’s birth. How very much like the Gospel, to transform mangers from rough-hewn rocks for cattle feed into a cradle for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, or to turn a Roman cross from an instrument of uttermost shame, human degradation, and cruelest torture of criminals into the “old rugged cross” that symbolizes life, hope, salvation, and a God-blessed humanity. Thank God, too, that in His resurrection, Jesus Christ has robbed death of its sting for all of those who have found His grace and mercy. Have you? Oh why would you not join the chorus through history who now sings, on this New Day, December 25th, of a Savior and a Lord who will transform your life too. This is the Gospel. And the song of salvation sung in all of our carols, celebrated in all of the lights and gifts and songs and warmth of family, whether discerned rightly or not, is tethered, eternally, to the greatest event in history: the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. And thus Milton wrote an ode to Christ’s birth which is a hopeful sermon for our lives this morning:

“Yea Truth and Justice then Will down return to men…And Heav’n as at some festival, Will open wide the gates of her high palace hall. But wisest Fate says no, This must not yet be so, The babe lies yet in smiling infancy, That on the bitter cross Must redeem our loss; So both himself and us to glorify” – John Milton  (On the Morning of Christ’s Nativity, lines 141–142, 147–154).

Be glorifed Jesus Christ on this morn! Christian, be assured that His glory is the firstfruits your own!

I am so glad that believers of old took that stand, made that decision to worship Christ and remember His incarnation in a new rhythm of time, a rhythm that revolves, not around the sun and the seasons, but the life of our Lord. Arne’t you?

And so it is Christmas. Praise be to Thee Lord Christ. Welcome all to this happy morn.

About Michael A. Milton, Ph.D.

Michael A. Milton, Ph.D., MPA (University of Wales; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), is an American Presbyterian pastor, theologian, and author.
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