In our Western world, Christmas has become a sentimental family holiday that is about bringing people together. The baby in the manger, the star, the shepherds, the wisemen, all stir up fond memories. We sing Away in the Manger and Silent Night and warm feelings fill our hearts. And there is nothing wrong with any of those things. They are wonderful gifts of the season.
But there is another side to Christmas, a dark side. From the very beginning there were those that did not welcome baby Jesus, but opposed him even to the point of death. King Herod tried two times to take the life of Jesus when he was just a child. Both times he failed, but only due to divine intervention on the child’s behalf.
These dual reactions continued throughout his ministry. Some believed he was the Messiah while others claimed he was a false prophet. Some said he came from God while others claimed he was possessed by the devil. Some bowed at his feet proclaiming, “My Lord and My God”, while others said he was a madman. Some became his disciples and followed him while others mocked him and nailed him to a cross.
At Christmas we all encounter Jesus and must decide what we will do with him. Will he be the cornerstone and foundation of our lives, or will he be the stone that causes us to stumble? Will we believe the helpless child in the manger is God Almighty come to save us from our sins and give our lives to him? Or will we judge him to be antiquated and out of touch with the current age; will we conclude that we can create our own reality without him?
Today we light the advent candle proclaiming in faith, “O holy Child of Bethlehem, Descend to us, we pray; Cast out our sin and enter in,
Be born in us today. We hear the Christmas angels, The great glad tidings tell: Oh, come to us, abide with us, Our Lord Immanuel!”