Recently, a co-worker asked whether we’ve reached the place in American culture where Christianity is seen as a fringe system of belief. I rattled off nine reasons why, if we’re honest, Christianity should be considered a fringe system of belief to those in the world at large. This Advent season, I’m exploring these beliefs and offering a somewhat surprising conclusion. Today, I'll explore reasons 7.
MY COMPLETELY IRRATIONAL, UNSCIENTIFIC, ORTHODOX, FRINGE SYSTEM OF BELIEF
Each night, we set the Christmas tree a-twinkling in the Haines' house, and last night I took a look at the ornaments adorning it. There's a baby Jesus ornament--a meek and mild one made from clay--and another baby jesus swaddled in blown glass. There are shepherds on a shelf over-looking the tree, and they're making their making their way to the baby Jesus in the creche over the entertainment center.
If your house is like mine, there are at least a half-dozen baby-Jesus depictions in your home right now, most of which adorn your tree. But do you have an ornament depicting the wedding feast at Cana, or one of Jesus driving the demons into Gentile swine herds? Do you have a Jesus-heals-the-leper ornament, or the limited edition Pool-of-Bethesda ornament from Dayspring? Do these seem like inappropriate ornaments for your Christmas tree?
The miracle of Christmas is the coming of God in human form. The miracle is that Jesus grew through infancy, toddlerhood, adolescence (zits and all), and into adulthood, where he embarked on the ministry of new life. Christmas isn't merely about a cute baby-child in a manger; instead, it is a New Genesis, the story of God returning to walk with men in his Garden of creation. It's the story of a wholly different life, one that ultimate conquered death for the benefit of all mankind.
As we saw in Parts 5-6 of this series, the stubborn wills of men murdered Jesus. But Jesus--the ever-more-stubborn God-man--bested the bunch. He rose from the dead three days after his crucifixion. And instead of bringing his wrath and vengeance upon those who'd strung him up, he instituted a Gospel of forgiveness, hope, restoration. This is the pinnacle of his miraculous life, and so, this is the pinnacle of Christmas.
There could be no Easter without Christmas. It's the simplest truth, but one that I often forget. This being the case, perhaps we should hang an empty-tomb ornament or two from the old tannenbaum next year.
*I'd love to see an empty tomb ornament in 2015. If you would too, click:[tweetherder] Dear @dayspring, I would like a resurrection Christmas ornament for 2015.[/tweetherder]
A CHRISTMAS GIVEAWAY AND A COUPON CODE
Sign up to receive my monthly Tiny Letter: A Compendium of Projects, People, Places, and Things. In December's issue, we're exploring the groaning of creation as we await the birth of the Christ with eager anticipation! And if you SIGN UP, you'll be entered into a drawing to win Preston Yancey's fabulous book Tables in the Wilderness. Though there can be only one winner (randomly selected, of course), every Tiny Letter subscriber will receive a 10% discount on the already-lower-than-Amazon price of Tables in the Wilderness, from Givington's!