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A reflection for Advent: The cross in the manger

If there is no cross in the manger, there is no Christmas.

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“I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but they did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man is about to suffer at their hands.” (Matthew 17:12)

As we are preparing for Jesus’ birth, it might seem odd that in the gospel passage for today Jesus predicts his death.  But, as poet Ann Weems reminds us, “If there is no cross in the manger, there is no Christmas.” As we prepare for and remember your birth, Lord Jesus, let us remember your life.

If there is no cross in the manger,
there is no Christmas.
If the Babe doesn’t become an Adult,
there is no Bethlehem star.
If there is no commitment in us,
there are no Wise Men searching.
If we offer no cup of water,
there is no gold, no frankincense, no myrrh.
If there is no praising God’s name,
there are no angels singing.
If there is no spirit of alleluia,
there are no shepherds watching.
If there is no standing up, no speaking out, no risk,
there is no Herod, no flight into Egypt.
If there is no room in our inn,
then “Merry Christmas” mocks the Christ Child.
and the Holy Family is just a holiday card,
and God will loathe our feats and festivals.

Ann Weems, Kneeling in Bethlehem (Westminster John Knox Press)

Reflection questions:

1. What does this poem mean to you?

2.  What risks are taken in the Nativity story? How does this foreshadow the rest of Jesus’ life and ministry? How do people of faith continue to live out the risk inherent in the story of Christ?

Friday, December 9, 2016