I won’t be trite or fancy with this topic because there are many people I know and love that have a tough road to walk at Christmas time. What I mean by the title is this: the Christmas story, properly understood, is a great comfort to those who are grieving.
Blogger Jon Bloom puts it wonderfully last year when he writes, “Christmas is actually a very good time for grief. Because sorrow has a way of disbursing fantasy nonsense and pointing us to what the birth of Jesus was all about: death’s destruction”
That’s why Jesus was born. Jesus was not born to give us a good example of how to live. Jesus entered the human experience so that he could die and ultimately be raised from the dead in triumph over death. In Heb 2:14-15 it says that Jesus was born…
so that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.
If we can assume there is a God, then at Christmas time (actually all the time) there are two ways of viewing life. One is that God sent his son Jesus as an ambassador to show you how to live; You live a good life and when you die God takes you to heaven.
The other way of looking at life is that sin has entered the world and things are not the way they should be. Jesus enters the world in weakness and experiences life in all its weakness so that through death and resurrection he can set us free from sin and death. You are saved not by what you do but by what God has done through Jesus.
Notice that in the first way God stays strong. He’s up in heaven. He told you what to do: Live right, say your prayers, go to church, do good, obey the law and you get to go to heaven. A strong God calling strong people to be strong and join him.
In the gospel however God becomes weak. He comes in the form of a baby, the best example of vulnerable there is. He empties himself and creates a way to live that gives life and freedom from slavery. It is not a way of life that is taken or earned; it is a way of life that is received. The only way to receive this new life is to accept it in weakness: “I am a sinner, I am not able to do this on my own, I receive this life from you Jesus.” You allow yourself to be baptized (you can’t even do that part by yourself) and are born again!
“Born to raise the sons of earth.
Born to give them second birth…”
The Christmas story reminds us that God comes in weakness to destroy death. He knows what loss is like and in the same way that there is hope at dawn – the sun is rising – there is comfort for those who grieve at Christmas time.