Zion United Church of Christ
|Posted on December 8, 2022 at 12:50 AM|
From Christmas to Easter
Looking at the Christ child this Christmas Eve, we find ourselves beckoned to Easter, called to travel not to Bethlehem first but rather to Calvary, where God’s redemptive presence is most fully revealed. At the cross we see a birth like no other, as the death of Jesus leads ultimately to the resurrection of Christ. Christmas, traveling to Calvary, we find Christ in magnificent form. Christmas is a time to receive God’s gift of salvation. We all know the story, but moving through the centuries, the Christmas story carries on, offering you and me the chance to participate in God’s radical plan. Christ comes to earth in humble and human form, welcoming each of us to participate in the miraculous unfolding of God’s loving and just realm.
Of course, God’s vision is always unfolding. The scene at the manger is never complete; even this Christmas eve as we gather it testifies to the miraculous way the Christian story carries on. God draws us together in unity and love despite our differences and diversity. Jesus Christ, the humble child, the radiant Savior, celebrating the one who comes to bring justice and peace to this broken world.
The story of the fir tree. At the time when the Christ Child was born all the people, the animals, and the trees and plants were very happy. The Child was born to bring peace and happiness to the whole world. People came daily to see the little One, and they always brought gifts with them. There were three trees standing near the crypt which saw the people, and they wished that they, too, might give presents to the Christ child. The Palm said:” I will choose my most beautiful leaf and place it as a fan over the Child.” The Olive said,” I will sprinkle sweet-smelling oil upon His head.” The Fir asked,” what can I give to the Child?” “You!” cried the others. “You have nothing to offer Him. Your needles would prick Him, and your tears are sticky.” So the poor little Fir tree was very unhappy, and it said:” Yes, you are right, I have nothing to offer the Christ Child.”
Now, quite near the trees stood the Christmas Angel, who had heard all that the trees had said. The Angel was sorry for the Fir tree who was so lowly without envy of the other trees. So, when it was dark, and the stars came out, the Angel begged a few of the little stars to come down and rest upon the branches of the Fir tree. They did as the Christmas Angel asked, and the Fir tree shone suddenly with a beautiful light. At that very moment, the Christ Child opened His eyes-for He had been asleep- and as the lovely light fell upon Him He smiled.
Every year people keep the dear Christmas Child’s birthday by giving gifts to each other, and every year, in remembrance of His first birthday, the Christmas Angel places in every house a Fir tree. Covered with starry candles it shines for the children as the stars shone for the Christ Child. The Fir tree was rewarded for its meekness, for to no other tree is it given to shine upon so many happy faces.
We call his name Immanuel, which means “God with us”. God coming to reconcile all creation to his love. “All creation” means everyone. Rich and poor, old and young, sick and well, every skin color- all of them were there, all of them present, all of them included as the ones to whom Jesus had come. That includes you and me, even though we weren’t in the crowd that night, around Him in the stable. Thanks be to God who has come to be with us, a crowd.
Rev. Coy and Joyce