Christmas Communion? – December 17, 2022 (378/365)

December 18 is looking to be a straight-up Christmas party for the congregation. We agreed that we would still have a worship set, and also, that we would still observe Holy Communion – even if I raised the concern that it would be contradictory to remember Christ’s death before we celebrate His birth. As I was writing that, I remember one verse in the famous hymn, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing:

Mild he lays his glory by,

born that we no more may die,

born to raise us from the earth,

born to give us second birth.

I probably should be writing about this and expounding on this in a separate entry but I’m glad I was led to these lyrics. Apparently we can talk about Christ’s birth while mentioning His death. He was born to die… and He died, that we would be born again. Beautiful. Will definitely write about this more at another time.

So this was in the back of my mind throughout this week, and I didn’t really think much of it… until everything seemed to fall into place this morning. See, I was called to speak a little bit at our Compassion project Christmas Party, and I wasn’t really given anything as to a theme or any specific points to take on. So I went with what first came to mind… That is, Matthew 1:18-23:

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.

But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us)

I only found out at the actual event that I wasn’t the only one the staff called to share a few words. No, Pastor Kenneth was around as well, and even if he wasn’t feeling so good, he was able to deliver his own words to the parents and children in attendance. His point was that with Christ’s birth comes exceeding joy and relief, but what I appreciated more than anything else was how he opened, because it served as my own opening as well. He asked the people – what comes to your mind when the word Christmas is mentioned?

Of course, considering that this is a Christmas party for a ministry and its beneficiaries, you’d think that they’d respond to Pastor Kenneth with what we wanted to hear; but it never fails. I heard the folks saying things like ‘parties’, ‘gifts’; seeing this is how they responded I also joined in and said ‘mga ninong at ninang’ (godparents)… but to our surprise, eventually one of the kids just went ahead and said, ‘the birth of Christ’.

And that’s where I picked up. If we were to talk about Christmas, we ought to automatically gravitate towards mentioning the birth of Jesus Christ. And, when we talk about the birth of Jesus Christ, we ought to remember two things, by way of the names He would be known as, based on Matthew 1:18-23: Jesus, and Immanuel.

We call the One we believe in Jesus, because ‘he will save his people from their sins.’. Even before He was born, one purpose of the Son whom Mary will bear was made clear as day. It wasn’t that He would save His people from poverty, or from sickness, or from oppression from the Romans or any other empire – No, the Son whom Mary will bear will save His people from more that any of these things; they would be saved from the root of all of it – sin.

Consequently we call the One we believe in Immanuel, because through Him we will behold, appreciate and enjoy God with us. The Creator of the stars in the heavens and the smallest particles in the deepest oceans would not longer be away from us, but through the Son whom Mary will bear, He will be with us.

These were two of the biggest purposes of Christ being born. So going back, if we were to talk about Christmas, it would not be without us talking about the birth of Christ. And when we talk about why Christ was born, we can remember His names – Jesus, and Immanuel. He came to save us from our sins, and He came for God to be with us.

And when you think about it, at the climax and pinnacle of Christ’s ministry, so many years later… Christ lay down His body, subjecting all of Himself to the sin that we were. We eat the bread remembering that Christ became sin, and so saved us from our sin. On the other hand, blood flowed out of Christ, blood that would establish a New Covenant, which brought us to Him, and brought Him to us. We drink the wine remembering that Christ’s blood reconciled us to God, and now, God is with us.

And so it IS fitting to allow the body of Christ to perform the Holy Communion – because it’s in Communion that we remember why Christ was born: He saved us from our sins, and now, God is with us.

And here’s where we throw in the lyrics of the song I pointed out:

Mild he lays his glory by,

born that we no more may die,

born to raise us from the earth,

born to give us second birth.

Thank You, Lord.

Until the next post, God bless you.

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