Christmas and the Pivot of History

One of my earliest memories is that of being rocked asleep by my mother singing softly to me:

Silent night, Holy night
Son of God, love’s pure light
Radiant beams from thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord at thy birth
Jesus, Lord at thy birth.

Imagine the nostalgia when I heard this same verse on a national radio station this week. The dawn of redeeming grace!–how awesome is it that this time of year, popular culture is “allowed” to sing about faith, and the entry of the Son of God onto our small sphere:

Hark the herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled”

God and sinners reconciled! …how can we, or anyone for that matter, forget exactly why this holiday is celebrated? It’s everywhere for all to see: To remember, to proclaim, the entry of Jesus Christ onto this earth. There is no doubt that Jesus was a historical figure, and no arguing that his birth was a pivotal moment in the history of mankind. (Yes, no matter how the PC-police want to change it, our dating system uses his birth as its center point!) There’s no doubt that his teachings have changed the lives of countless millions, but as C.S. Lewis has eloquently said, he can’t simply be a “great teacher.”

A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronising nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.

What Would Jesus Do?

So let’s remember what Jesus did that made him such anathema to the religious leaders of the day. The media doesn’t like to point at one religion over another, but let’s be honest. The things that set true Christianity apart from religions around the world are grace and love. A free gift–that must be shared to be enjoyed. One thing that strikes us these days is a distinct lack of love. Whatever the politics of the age, whatever the anguish going on, let us remember how Christ truly flipped leadership on its head: he brought love, rather than hate; freedom and joy, rather than control.

Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother;
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name.

Christ is the Lord! O praise His Name forever,
His power and glory evermore proclaim.
O night divine, O night, O night divine