For our redemption, Christ, the second person of the Triune God, the Son of God, became a man, entering what has typically been the world’s most sublime joy—the birth of a child. Scripture says that one night shepherds were guarding their flocks when an angel with radiant light suddenly appeared among them and announced, “The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!” (Luke 2:11).
The late Dr. Henry C. Swentzel, formerly the rector of St. Luke’s Church of Brooklyn, New York, said that Christmas “is a universal fete day, the king of festivals.” Although people suffer many griefs and cares, it seems “no experience of disastrous fortune, no newly made graves, can wholly shut out its sunshine. … Only one cloud can obstruct its splendors, and that is the cloud of sin.”
Indeed, and profound is our national sin! Its gray overcast blocks the radiant light of the glory of God, which provided the brilliance of the angels above the shepherds’ fields and the tremendous luminosity of the star that led people to where the Savior could be found. Our sin is gross and derides Christmas’s light.
Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court case that made abortion legal, has been overturned. In Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the Supreme Court sent the question of abortion’s legality back to the states. Nevertheless, several states now allow for abortion up to the moment of birth. This year, 46 U.S. Senate Democrats voted for the Women’s Health Care Protection Act, a bill that would have legalized abortion in all 50 states until birth.
There is little difference between this and Pharoah’s order to the handmaidens of Egypt to kill all the infant male Hebrews or Herod’s command to kill the babies in Bethlehem and the surrounding region to prevent the coming of the Messiah, Jesus. Wicked! Immoral! Depraved!
No doubt Planned Parenthood and pro-choice activists today would have counseled the poor virgin Mary—only a teenager with an unplanned pregnancy, facing complicated and humiliating circumstances—to get an abortion. Progressive pastors heretically argue that Scripture supports the practice of abortion. Female celebrities cheer the homicide of their own children in the womb. Roguish! Evil! Heinous!
Only a willfully sinful people do not feel the thrill of hope and promise and redemption in the birth of a child, no matter the circumstances into which the youngster may come.
In that manger in Bethlehem, the light of Christmas was glorious in the face of the baby Jesus. He is the Savior who came for sinners such as us. The Bible says he came “to give light to those who sit in darkness” (Luke 1:79).
This shining light falls upon lives steeped in guilt and its shadows of seemingly hopeless regret. For those who will acknowledge the sin its glow reveals, this light will scatter fear and despair and replace them with pardon and joy. It can penetrate even the darkest places on earth or the blackest places of the soul and fill them with peace, jubilation, and genuine merriment.
There is considerable mock hilarity this season of the year, plenty to muffle the agonizing cry, “Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?” (Romans 7:24). But it is only the Christ child who makes Christmas. Apart from Christ’s presence in the governing seat of one’s heart, its blessed minstrels cannot delight.
What obstructs actual Christmas splendors but the cloud of our sin?
Any nation, anywhere in the world, that still justifies destroying the innocent life of a child at any stage, is a nation that rejects the Christmas child, the giver of life and immortality.
Image credit: Flickr-Ted Eytan, CC BY-SA 2.01 comment