“The Cross in the Manger”
By Ann Weems
If there is no cross in the manger,
there is no Christmas.
If the Babe doesn’t become the 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 cold 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 feasts and festivals.
For if there is no reconciliation,
we cannot call Christ “Prince of Peace.”
If there is no goodwill towards others,
it can all be packed away in boxes for another year.
If there is no forgiveness in us,
there is no cause for celebration.
If we cannot go even now unto Golgotha,
there is no Christmas in us.
If Christmas is not now,
If Christ is not born into the everyday present,
then what is all the noise about?
Every Christmas, I revisit this poem. I think it is very powerful. It puts Christmas into the proper perspective. Like everyone else, I get caught up in all of the activities and emotions of the Christmas season. I love to shop for the perfect gifts, decorate the tree, sing Christmas carols, bake cookies, watch “A Christmas Carol” starring George C. Scott (the best movie rendition ever) and prepare the perfect family dinner.
There have been many years when I’ve said, “It just doesn’t feel like Christmas,” even after doing all that holiday stuff. I would tell myself that once I got to the Christmas candlelight service, it would feel like Christmas; although usually that didn’t help either.
I do remember clearly one special Christmas Eve. I was a kid, pre-fifth grade. I went to bed that night in my room, lit only by an electric candle with a blue bulb in my window. I recited from memory the Christmas story in Luke 2, and then, I imagined what it would have been like to hold in my arms the tiny baby Jesus--God’s beloved one and only Son. I remember crying. Even at that age, I knew Jesus was very special.
Yes, Jesus is special; not because he is a baby, but because he is God Come to Earth--The Great Teacher of the Way, and, most importantly, Personal Savior of Our Souls. God sent Jesus into the world not as a blanket Savior for all time. God sent Jesus into the world to take upon himself our sin, thinking lovingly of each and every individual person living at that time and every person yet to come, which includes you and me. Yes, each of us was on God’s mind when he sent his only Son into the world. I challenge you to think about that as you celebrate Christmas. So, Christmas is not about a feeling or commercialism. It’s about a Savior who entered the world to save us all.
Christ the Savior is born! Let’s celebrate! Merry Christmas!