Tonight, all around the world, people will gather in churches and cathedrals to observe the celebration of Christ’s birth, Immanuel, God with us. Whether that celebration is liturgical, traditional, contemporary, or some other form matters not. What matters is who is being celebrated. The greatest gift ever given was not a baby born in a stable to two humble teens. That was the beginning of the greatest gift ever given. The true gift wasn’t realized until Jesus’ death on the cross reconciling man with God.
As we sing our carols, read stories, recite scripture, take communion, pray, and whatever else is involved in today’s and tonight’s services and gatherings, let us not forget that what we celebrate this week culminates on a cross. The reason for this season is Jesus, yes, but His reason was because we are sinful and wretched and separated from God without the blood of Christ.
We talk much about peace on earth and goodwill toward men, and rightly so, yet we forget that this is possible only because of the violent death of our Savior. Jesus did not become man to be a baby. He became man to be a sacrifice.
In the song “The First Noel” the final lines are “And with His blood mankind has bought, Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel, Born is the King of Israel.” This baby was born to die. Die for you and for me. Die to bring forgiveness, healing, peace, and eternal life.
Tonight and tomorrow are joyous and wonderful and we should enjoy and savor every moment with family and faith fully integrated. We also need to remember why. The greatest gift ever given, salvation through the death of Immanuel.