Remember him—before the silver cord is severed, or the golden bowl is broken; before the pitcher is shattered at the spring, or the wheel broken at the well, and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. Ecclesiastes 12, verses 6 and 7.
A very merry Christmas to you on a wonderful Christmas Day! I’m hoping these words are read and received as one of many more blessings that you enjoy on a day to celebrate the birth of real hope! Our Christmas here in Texas started about 0500 when “the Bookends” (our newly married couple) woke us in surprise to tell us that Santa had come and gone. Most of the rest of my family is now enjoying a power nap. Today will be a family day, full of togetherness, fun, games, good food, good wine and remembering why Christmas is such a blessing.
That’s the good news. Read these verses for some perspective. I’m not here to rain on your parade (especially since it’s pouring December rain at the moment) but Christmas is about remembering something wonderful because the future holds things that aren’t. Before old age creeps up to steal our youth, before riches are lost or squandered or taken, before bitterness tries to entrench in a world accustomed to it, and before you and I are stretched out and broken, it’s good to remember the happiness of Christmas because it won’t last.
Remember that: as long as we’re here, it won’t last.
You see, Christmas is just the first act of the story of the ages. It’s climax is a brutal fact: Christ was born to die. He was born to be murdered. An innocent baby Christmas boy was born for Good Friday. We observed yesterday that, without Christmas, Easter could not happen. Yet without Easter, Christmas has no meaning. It’s a good thing to give to each other, but that giving has no meaning without knowing that the ultimate gift has already been given. The precious baby born in a stable was cherished and adored. Some years later, he was once more adored, this time by wise men who journeyed hundreds of miles to worship Him. He grew up, learned, matured, loved and became a grown wise men of His own. And when He began His ministry, He was cherished, worshipped, and adored again. And then those who cherished, worshipped, and adored Him turned and had him murdered. Not just murdered: savagely murdered in a painful, humiliating, soul-crushing manner that you and I simply can’t fathom. Not just soul-crushed, He took on all the emotional, spiritual and physical guilt and punishment of every human who ever lived; billions of us. He who was and is God separated from God and yet He didn’t. In the mystery of redemption, He was rejected, tortured and slaughtered so you and I wouldn’t have to be.
And then something brilliant happened.
It happened because of Christmas, because He was born on the day we celebrate today. Look at your hands today and imagine rusty steel spikes hammered through them. That happened because Jesus was born today. Look at your family and imagine all of you deservedly standing naked and vulnerable and guilty before a just God. Then imagine being covered in snow white blood of a Savior who intermediates between you and Him. That happened because it started on Christmas Day. Look at the gifts and remember that the spirit that sprouted within you, the giving spirit of Christmas that compelled you to share with the people you love, is actually the spirit of Jesus who’s joining in your celebrations today. That happened because God gave to us that first Christmas morning.
Remember these things, then remember that, even in the middle of all of what’s beautiful about Christmas, Christmas happens because we need Easter even more. Remember this because, one day, the silver cord in your life will break, your gold will shatter and your wheel split. When the dust of your body returns to the dust from which it came, and when your spirit returns to God, it will all happen because of Christmas Day. It will happen because of Christmas Day that must inevitably be fulfilled in the unspeakable carnage of Good Friday, and then the glorious, promising hope of Easter morning.