December 20, 2013
This month we celebrate one of the highlights of our faith history: the time God sent his son into the world to be born as fully human and fully God at the same time. We celebrate that God’s plan for the salvation of man began to be realized when Jesus came into the world that night in Bethlehem.
However, Christ’s birth also means something else had to happen: the cross. As I heard someone describe it recently, the Christ child was born in the shadow of the cross. In other words, he was born knowing he had to suffer and die. Suffering was part of God’s plan of salvation all along.
This Sunday in my church, we read from Revelation 21:3-4 as part of our celebration of Advent. As the pastor said, it’s not your typical Advent verse, but it speaks to the completion of God’s plan of salvation begun with Christ’s birth, carried out in his death and resurrection, and finalized with the triumphant return of Christ, the destruction of his enemies and our unification with him in the place he has prepared for us.
During Advent, we celebrate the hope we have in Christ. However, there is no hope without the payment for our sins through Christ’s suffering. I thought it was appropriate then that later in the service we sang a song called “Lead Me to the Cross,” a song about kneeling before the Christ’s cross and offering ourselves as an offering to Him.
My prayer this season, as we celebrate the hope and joy of Jesus’ birth, is that we also willingly humble ourselves before Christ’s cross and be willing to suffer for his name, to pay whatever cost it takes to proclaim him in our lives. May we be willing offer ourselves for hardship, for discrimination, for hard work, for shaming or even death because Christ sacrificed so much for us.
This Christmas, let us remember that the baby’s birth points to a cross of suffering, and be willing to take up that cross as well as share the cross of our persecuted brothers and sisters.
Dory P. has worked with VOM for six years. She grew up in Ecuador, met her husband while working with another mission organization, and now lives in Oklahoma. Between Dory, her husband and three-year-old son, they share five passports. Dory helps tell the stories of the persecuted through VOM's newsletter, and her husband serves with VOM's international department.
Photo Credit: MTSOfan via Flickr