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Communion Meditations (2012)


Originally scheduled for December 23

Elementary school teachers of any experience will tell you that there is nothing, absolutely nothing, that attracts a crowd of fifth grade girls quite like a newborn baby in a stroller. The attraction is almost magnetic. Interestingly, most adults think of this as a teachable moment, a chance to explain to the girls just how much trouble a newborn baby can be. It doesn’t seem to help very much.

The truth is that human beings love new beginnings. It is a God-given fact that young girls see a newborn baby as being absolutely precious. The natural view of a new human being is one of hope; we see great things ahead and monumental cuteness now.

Adults tend to view the arrival of a new baby somewhat differently. As a practical point of fact we tend to have a parallel to the Wise Men who attended Christ’s birth — we call it a baby shower. While the Wise Men are the source of the custom of giving gifts at Christmas, the practical matter of fact is that a newborn baby needs a lot of things. The selection of baby gifts that Mary received was fittingly different than what we would ordinarily give. It might be reasonable to conclude however that there were no fifth-graders involved; after all, Mary and Joseph were new in town and they were living in a stable. It’s a humble way to start a life, being born in a place away from family and friends. The birth of Christ was the same as the birth of any of the rest of us — only different.

So why do we celebrate the birth of Christ?

·         First, because it is the supreme miracle of all time: the Incarnation. It is the time in which God, the creator of all things and the rumor of the universe, became one of us. His status as ruler was confirmed by the choir of angels and the gifts of the Wise Men; his status as human being was confirmed by a stable and shepherds.

·         Second, because it is the birth of the supreme Person of humankind: the Christ. No other human being has had nearly the influence on human thought and human action as Jesus of Nazareth, the babe of Bethlehem.

·         Perhaps the greatest reason is this: the birth in the manger is necessary for the supreme sacrifice of the Cross. Mary was warned that a sword would pierce her heart. Were it not for that sacrifice, Jesus of Nazareth would join the long list of teachers of man — and no more.

So as you partake of Communion today, remember that the babe in the manger became the man on the Cross. His shed blood, his body are before you. Remember the sacrifice that makes you clean.

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