Pastor’s Perspective 12-08-2020
I have a funeral later this week. And I know of at least one other individual who may not make it to Christmas. It seems to happen every year. Right in the middle of a joyous season, families and friends are saying good-bye to loved ones for the last time here on earth. I remember the first time I had to do a funeral in the sanctuary during the Christmas holiday. Consciously aware of this huge 40-foot decorated Christmas tree behind me, a casket in front of me, and a family gathered for a funeral. At first, it just felt odd. Like the tree didn’t belong. But the more I have thought about this seemingly incongruent picture – and the more funerals I have done during the Christmas season – I have come to the conclusion that the picture is entirely appropriate.
The key word in Christmas is Christ. This is the season when Christians around the world celebrate God’s plan of salvation. God came to this earth as a baby. That baby grew up to be a man. The only person to ever live on this earth without sinning. Even once. So that He could pay the penalty for our sins on the cross. So that we could receive His full forgiveness and the gift of eternal life. So that families and friends who find themselves grieving the loss of loved ones during the Christmas season have an even greater reason to celebrate if their loved one knew Jesus as Savior and Lord. It will be their loved one’s first Christmas with Jesus in heaven!
I recently read one of Billy Graham’s sermons preached at the White House on Sunday, December 16, 1973. It was entitled, “A Cradle, A Cross and a Crown.” Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus. The cradle is a part of every nativity set. But that baby was born to die. For us. In Billy Graham’s words, “Christmas, to have meaning, cannot be separated from the cross… The cross and the resurrection stand today as man’s only hope.” And then there is the crown. At the cross, Jesus wore a crown of thorns. But when He returns, He will do so as the King of Kings. With a crown of righteousness for all who have longed for His appearing. A cradle, a cross and a crown put everything that happens in our lives in proper perspective. Everything.
See you Sunday! ~ John