How our heritage frames what we see at Christmas

Christmas and Easter are the two annual highlights of the Christian calendar. We celebrate both, year in, year out.

I once heard a seasoned preacher, who was struggling with the challenge of making the Christmas message sound fresh and vibrant, who thought he had the answer. Don’t just focus on the birth narrative, but on the fact that Jesus came to….

If you push this too far, Christmas begins to sound like Easter. Jesus was born to die and forgive us for our sins. Western Protestant Christianity is prone to seeing the cross as central to Christianity.

Don’t get me wrong. Sin, and forgiveness, and humanity needing a saviour is present in the birth narratives. The angels tell Joseph to name the child “Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (Matt 1:21) And they tell the shepherds “a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord”. (Luke 2:11)

There is, I suggest, a more dominant theme in the infancy narratives. It is that Jesus is born a King, a ruler, Lord.

What we see in the nativity scene in Jesus being worshipped by common Jews (shepherds), by Gentiles (wise men), and by angels (heavenly beings). This vision foreshadows not so much the cross, but the nations and heavenly courts worshipping the lamb in eternity.

Can I suggest that 2020 has been a year where we have been reminded that we are not Lord of our own destiny? We are not in control. And Christmas reminds us that’s OK. Because Jesus is both our saviour, and our Lord. When he is on the throne, everything is as it should be. That is a priceless gift.

Rev David Rietveld

Senior Minister

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