The Sacrifice of Christmas

It’s Christmas. My girls are actually getting along, the house smells of freshly baked ginger snaps and is filled with music saved only for this time of year. It’s kinda picture perfect. More like a miracle.

Among all the busyness and cheer of the season, though, I’ve been pondering something much more critical. The birth of Jesus is the reason to celebrate Christmas. We give gifts to those we love, tie them in a bow and move on with whatever the next year brings. But I am thinking of Mary today.

Believers know that Mary was visited by an angel of the Lord who told her she would bear a child. Born to save the world. Her immediate obedience and faith is astounding. She doesn’t seem to blink an eye at this news. “Let it be so,” she says. I don’t know about you, but when I found out I was pregnant with my first born, I fell to my knees and cried. There was so much uncertainty. I had never been pregnant before. I was miles away from my hometown and I had no friends at the time. I felt very alone and my child was just an ordinary baby. I had dreams for her life, and what she would grow to be like.

I think of Mary and what her mother’s heart must have been dreaming for her child. Mary knew her child would be born as a sacrifice. Even a as a sacrifice for herself.

Let’s just camp out there for a moment and discuss the difference between death and a sacrificial death because they are very different. We are all born and we all die. It is everyone’s destiny. So, when I hear songs and read stories about how Jesus was born to die, it doesn’t impact me as much. So what? We all die.

Born to be a sacrifice. Now that catches in my heart.

To sacrifice something, according to my friend Webster, is to accept the loss or destruction for an end cause or ideal.

Back before Jesus was born to be sacrificed, people would offer up their best lambs, goats, cattle etc., in order to be cleansed of their sins. It was a filthy practice, actually. Ironic, huh? Beauty becomes filth to be made clean.

So, I am thinking of Mary in the filthy stable filled with animal waste, old hay and dirt. She’s giving birth to a perfect child. A child that no doubt she prayed over, wondered what he would look like and even thought about his future. How long would she have him? How long before she would have to say goodbye to her son? Before he was sacrificed…for me? And for you.

It gives me a new meaning to Christmas morning. It makes me think of Jesus’ little birthday party very differently. We were all born. We will all die.

Jesus’ difference is the sacrifice.

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