As it’s Christmas Day, I thought it might be best to share a roundup of some of the best Christmassy blog posts and articles I have read recently.
I’ve never been to a church that had a Christmas Eve service, so I don’t know how much of a thing that is more broadly. But I really do appreciate the desire to elevate the thing we read in scripture about gathering and meeting on the Lord’s Day over and above any cultural, extra-biblical days we might otherwise celebrate.
‘There are millions of books on how to live, but very few on how to die. Lots of people want to teach us how to postpone death through healthy living, but very few teach on how to face up to death when healthy living is fading. Even if we do summon up the courage to talk about death, who can we trust on the subject? There aren’t exactly many people who can speak with experience about how to die. Many can help us to live, but who can help us to die? In Luke 2:21–38, we meet a dying man, Simeon, cuddling a newborn baby that helped him to die. What was it about the new life of baby Jesus that gave Simeon a new view of death?’
Dan Doriani answers this one.
‘For many people, the question of whether or not a virgin can give birth is in the same category as questions about whether or not pigs can fly or time can be reversed or the sun can be stopped from shining. But in each of these circumstances, we must remember that all it takes for these “supernatural” events to be possible is for a “supernatural” God to exist.’
‘Is Hanukkah the Jewish Christmas? Most certainly not. Modern Christmas celebrations and Hanukkah are commemorated at similar times each year, but the Jewish festival’s background isn’t related to Jesus’s birth. However, that doesn’t mean Hanukkah can’t teach us about Jesus. In John 10:22–42, the apostle shows us how Jesus fulfills three key elements of this Jewish feast—the hero, the temple, and the lights.’
‘Christmas is the time of the baby in the manger, of the Word become flesh. Christmas is the time of Immanuel, God with us, God as one of us. Christmas is ‘God draws near’; Christmas is ‘our God contracted to a span’ – not without his continuing to fill heaven and earth, of course! At Christmas, we see his glory – the glory of the one and only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth. Though no-one has ever seen God, the one and only Son has made him known. Christmas is when God, in a miracle of grace, becomes an object in our history, our space and time, counted amongst us as one body alongside other bodies, to be heard, seen, touched.’
‘God is no killjoy. He wants us to enjoy ourselves. He gives us good gifts so we can enjoy them. But that joy is but a taste of the joy incomparable that is ours in Christ.’