Christmas is all about life and light:
One of the main reasons why we celebrate Christmas is because it points us to someone who offers us life and light, and delivers us from the realm of death and darkness. The meaning of Christmas today may seem to be all about commercialism and the exchanging of gifts, but consider the actual reason for this gift-giving.
What we celebrate and commemorate at Christmas is the great exchange of 2000 years ago: God became a man, indeed, he first became a baby, so that by his eventual death we might have life. That is quite the exchange. God the Son left the comforts of heaven to live in this sin-soaked world, to offer us a way out of our mess.
The newborn baby in a cradle in Bethlehem was the hope of mankind. His life and death resulted in this greatest exchange of gifts: the gift of eternal life due to his death on a cross, so that we might have our sins forgiven and be restored to God. It was a very uneven exchange of course: we bring nothing but our loss and shame and sin and sorrow, and lay that at his feet, and in return he gives us new life.
But the battle between life and death goes on. Indeed, even during the days of the birth of Jesus, there were those intent on death. As we read about in Matthew 2:16-18, Herod could not countenance another king – The Real King – so he ordered the death of all male children two years old or under.
So even very early on the contrast was there: pagan kings seeking death, while the true King promoted life. It is part of the greater cosmic struggle: Satan comes to steal and kill and destroy while Jesus comes that we might have life, and have it more abundantly (John 10:10).
And for two thousand years Christians have been at the forefront of defending life, and resisting the culture of death. That is why today so often it is the Christian church that is so very much involved in the abortion wars. Believers follow their Lord in standing up for life and resisting death.
And that also involves things like setting up crisis pregnancy centres and the like. And sadly, it has also come to mean setting up things such as baby rescue boxes. When some women give birth and tragically want to give up the baby, it is often abandoned in a toilet or a park. So increasingly concerned prolifers have set up places where the baby can be ‘deposited’ and then looked after and cared for.
I have written before about these various projects. A quite recent example of this comes from Canada:
A Canadian fire department has installed a “safe box” for women in crisis who want to surrender their newborn children. A community fire station in Strathmore, Alberta, a small town about 50 kilometers east of Calgary, is believed to be the first in Canada to implement a safe surrender box to enable mothers to anonymously and safely drop off the newborns they feel they cannot adequately care for.
“We’re really excited to be able to offer this service to our community and the surrounding communities as well,” said the man behind the initiative, Shift Captain Eric Alexander. “It’s pretty special to be the first one in Canada.”
According to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the box is fashioned inside the wall of the fire station and has a heavy door allowing access to the public. “When opened, the door gives access to an enclosed, heated bassinet for the baby. When the door closes, it locks, and a silent alarm goes off to alert fire department staff.”
As reported by the CBC, the initiative, called Hope’s Cradle, was first started by Alexander after a newborn baby was found dead in a dumpster in Calgary on Christmas Eve, 2017. Since Alexander was a new father at the time, the story “stuck in his mind,” and he partnered with an organization called “Gems for Gems,” which was working on a similar project at the time. https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/751915/
So in the midst of a culture of death, God’s people promote life. And this has always been the case. The reality of modern baby abandonment is not new. It was all rather common during the days of Christ and the early church. As I have written elsewhere on this:
Consider Rodney Stark’s 1996 volume, The Rise of Christianity. There he documents how Christian compassion and social concern saw the faith grow rapidly, and change the world it found itself in. Looking after the sick and needy, and treating victims of epidemics and pestilence, while the pagans fled, resulted in the conversion of many. The respect for the sanctity of life, and the rejection of common practices like abortion and infanticide also were noteworthy.
Infant abandonment, which was widespread back then, was another action radically turned around by the new faith. Christians looked after these abandoned babies, and changed the culture from a culture of death to a culture of life. Thus Christianity really did create Western civilisation, taking the world out of a bloody and uncaring pagan past. https://billmuehlenberg.com/2013/05/29/baby-abandonment-and-the-new-paganism/
So believers have always been at the forefront of this. And again, it ties in with the first Christmas, and the very reason why God became man. God is involved in a great rescue mission – to rescue the dying. And for two thousand years his people have done the same: seeking to rescue others from death and destruction.
So Christmas is not just the stuff of carols, of Santa, and of presents. It is about a great affirmation of life, and a great opposition to death. The Christian faith, in other words, based as it is on the incredible birth 2000 years ago, is a very practical and positive faith.
Those who come to Christ and exchange their sin and death for forgiveness and new life will forever go on to share that with others. That includes not just sharing the good news of the gospel, but living out their faith in a life-affirming matter.
While it is sadly the case that every Christmas many people are lonely, depressed and suicidal, this is even more the case this year because of all the Covid madness going on. Whether it is various states slamming shut their borders (as Western Australia has just done again) and keeping families and loved ones apart, or whether it is families themselves discriminating against family members who are not jabbed, this can be a quite hard time of year for so many. As I recently wrote on the social media:
While I do not mind very much, I will be one of those home alone over Christmas – because I am still a leper. But others will certainly suffer. As my good friend Kerry said: “Please pray over the next few days for those you know who will be alone on Christmas Day – there are many estranged from, alienated from or forgotten by family, friends, etc – and this year there will be many more spending the day alone simply for not being jabbed. Pray that the Christ visits them in their aloneness and fills them with much joy and hope in a special way, such that being alone will be experienced this year as a unique and special blessing.” Maybe all of us lepers should get together and have our own leper Christmas party! Jesus would be there – he loved to hang around with such people!
So Merry Christmas one and all. And if you know of those who are alone this Christmas, why not invite them along to your Christmas celebration? (A young family I know of will come around to my place on the day after Christmas for a visit – so I will have some company, along with my cat and two dogs!)