Dec 15, 2009

A Cradle, Nails and a Spear

Something that increasingly bothered me during my many years in evangelical churches was the emphasis on only two spiritual events: Christmas and Easter.  Granted, there were attempts to try and connect the two theologically, but experientially Christmas evoked thoughts of joy and peace and Easter focused on sorrow, the promise of forgiveness of sins and eternal life.  One had to kind of gear up for the emotions of two very different celebrations.

One of the bloggers I read on a weekly basis (A Catechumen's Tale) helped me understand this rather fragmented view of Christ's life and the dangers therein.  His posting was the result of an observation that many times the second verse is omitted from the well loved Christmas carol, "What Child Is This?", because it contains reference to the Cross, nails and a spear.  Here is an excerpt:

This latter point - the removal of the second part - seems to be the most common change made to the carol. One can only wonder why this is...perhaps the most obvious is, at the risk of drawing a hasty conclusion, the inclusion of the description of the crucifixion. One rarely hears of nails and spears piercing someone through in a Christmas song. I was originally going to focus this post entirely on the carol and the second part, but my mind (as it often does) began to wander around the point, and I began to think harder on this issue. Namely, how we seem to focus solely on one aspect of our Blessed Lord's life.

Just as we must believe in the fullness of Christ, so must we believe in the fullness of our Lord's time on earth. We cannot divide it into isolated incidents, for in focusing on one we lose the affect of all the others. For example, if we focus on our Lord's Incarnation, we turn Him into a happy Christmas story. If we focus on our Lord's ministry, we turn Him into just another friendly man with helpful advice. If we focus on our Lord's passion, we devalue His pain and suffering to the point where even a monkey could die on the cross for our salvation. If we focus on our Lord's Resurrection, then Christ serves no greater purpose than Lazarus.

The fullness of Christ is the fullness of His life. He was the Incarnate Word born into our sinful flesh, Who lived a pure and blessed life, Who suffered as the sacrificial lamb, and Who rose again to free us from the death that separated us from God. Due to our natural habit of thinking in limited terms, it's quite easy to fall into the trap of limiting our acknowledgment of Christ's life. Doing so, however, limits our understanding of Christ. If we forget the crucifixion at Easter, it's only easy enough for us to forget it at Christmas.

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