To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen. Jude 24-25 (NIV).
Happy Easter 2021. Oh, and Merry Christmas, too. Here we arrive at Christmas Eve, as well as the last two verses of the book of Jude. They are a doxology praising God for His glorious nature given to us in Jude’s brother, Jesus: Jesus, born on Christmas specifically to die on Good Friday so He could resurrect 3 days later. That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.
Yes, I’m splashing you with a healthy shock of cold water (or eggnog, or wassail) in saying that Christmas means nothing without Easter. Yep. Today, when so many lights are sparkling, when we’re remembering the beautifully humble story of the babe in the manger, when we’re excited for Santa to come, when trees are trimmed and football is on TV, and when we are hopefully nestled in our beds with visions of sugar plums dancing in our heads, remember that today only happened because it started the road to Calvary.
More importantly, it began the path that led to the stone being rolled away. On Easter. On Easter, when the full meaning of Christmas finally became clear. Christmas only happened because God had already set Easter in motion.
I love Christmas, especially in this whacked-out year of 2020. So much has been upside down this year, and so many people have suffered worldwide. But I love that there is still this end-of-year miracle about mercy and love that God gave to us. I love that, despite the best workings of bad government, Christmas hasn’t been locked down, or delayed, or destroyed. I love that we are still able to celebrate this year and enjoy the gifts, the cookies, the fellowship, the story of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus.
Know what I love most of all? That Easter is what gives meaning to Christmas. Easter is what makes Christmas so beautiful. We don’t sing “Easter carols”; there aren’t even that many popular Easter hymns. So, this year, let’s sing “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” or “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” or even “Jingle Bells” remembering that they point to Jesus born in Bethlehem under the cruelest circumstances. Jesus, born on Christmas with the divine purpose of dying that horrible death on Good Friday.
So He could rise on Easter. Because Easter gave Good Friday meaning. Because Easter makes Christmas worth celebrating. Without Easter, Christmas is just another royal holiday; big freaking deal. With Easter, it is the miracle. It’s the herald angels singing. It is Emmanuel with us to save us. It is merry bells jingling in anticipation of eternal happiness. The baby in the manger grew up to be the resurrected man who walked out of that Easter tomb. Gloria in excelsis deo and that matters most.
Christmas is wonderful because of Jesus’ mercy and love, so let’s remember that today. And, as we close Jude and give praise to God, let’s remember to say “merry Christmas” at least once more. Every time we do, we’re actually proclaiming, “He is risen. He is risen indeed.”
For further reading: Matthew 1:18-2:23, Mark 15-16, Luke 2, John 1:1-19, John 21 Obadiah 1
Lord Jesus, thank You for Your birth that began Your journey to Your resurrection!
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