By Teresa D. Welch
Strips of cloth, angels, a man named Joseph, a bed, spices, an angel’s “do not be afraid” message, and a group rushing to tell others the good news.
In the context of December, with decorated trees and carolers singing “fa-la-la-la-la,” you most likely associated those items with the story found in Luke 2: “And she [Mary] gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed in him a manager” (v. 7).
But these elements of the Christmas story also appear in a different story about Christ. The story of Christmas reminds us of the story of Easter.
In infancy, the body of Jesus was wrapped in cloths and placed where no other person had previously lain. Thirty-three years later, Christ’s body would be removed from a cross by a man named Joseph, who “wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid” (Luke 23:53).
At Christmas, we remember that an angel appeared to shepherds and announced, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today . . . a Savior has been born” (Luke 2:10, 11). On Easter morning, an angel said to a group of women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said” (Matthew 28:5, 6).
And both the incarnation and the resurrection caused groups to share what they had heard from an angel. Shepherds “spread the word . . . about this child . . . glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen” (Luke 2:17, 20), and on Easter, “the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples” (Matthew 28:8).
So as we sing hymns, watch productions, buy gifts, and hang the lights of Christmas, let us also remember what we celebrate at this Communion table. The God of creation entered into his creation as an infant, “he made himself nothing . . . being made in human likeness . . . he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:7, 8).
Because of the incarnation of Christ, we remember the crucifixion and celebrate the resurrection of Christ.
The image is a painting of the angel Gabriel appearing to Mary; The Annunciation was painted by Lodovico Carracci (1555–1619). Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Teresa D. Welch serves as vice president of institutional research and effectiveness and professor with Ozark Christian College, Joplin, Missouri.