The Crib, the Cross and Christmas or Christ’s Mass
I have two questions today…
- What is the connection between the Crib, the Cross and Christ’s Mass?
- What is the connection between the Crib, the Cross, and Christ’s Mass and our day to day lives?
How do we look at the crib?
We look at the crib from the vantage point of the last chapter. We know how the story ends! We forget that it wasn’t clear to the people whose lives were affected at the time where it was all heading.
The news of Jesus’ arrival
- confused Mary
- caused Joseph to consider divorce
- sent King Herod into a genocidal fury
- led Joseph and Mary and their newborn to flee for their lives
That’s the first Christmas from the vantage point of those who lived it.
- It challenges a young teenager
- It rattles a marriage.
- It exiles a family.
- It provokes a madman to murder.
How do we look at the cross?
We also look at the cross from the safety of the last chapter. What we forget is that it wasn’t clear to Jesus’ followers what was happening.
- The cross was a scandal!
- The cross caused them to fear.
- They were sure it wasn’t supposed to end that way… but it did. He was the Messiah, their long-awaited Saviour, and king! Why was he killed?
- When they saw the way it was going they denied that they knew him.
- What was happening to their dreams of the kingdom?
- What were the implications for them?
- They gathered trying to make sense of it. They gathered in a locked room out of fear of repercussions.
How do we look at Christ’s mass?
The word Christmas comes originally from Christ’s Mass. We know it today through the eyes of the first three gospels. We associate it with a ceremony with a priest saying “Do this in memory of me” and elevating the host for all to see.
But wait! Didn’t Christ say where two or three are gathered in his name he would be there in the midst of them?
Over the centuries we have forgotten Christ’s penetrating question to his disciples as recorded in John’s gospel.
Do you understand what I have just done? I have just washed your feet as a servant washes the feet of his master. If you do understand… then DO this in memory of me. I have set the example. I am in your midst really present in everyone… especially the forgotten ones.
Don’t just kneel there and look at me and worship me. That is missing the point. DO to one another what I have done for you. We have lost sight of Jesus’ own concerns at the first eucharist. There Jesus’ summed up the message of his life and death and its purpose. If we understand the last supper – we will wash one another’s feet in memory of him who washed our feet.
We give gifts today as a way of honoring God’s gift to us. We are giving gifts as a way of serving one another and washing their feet.
Back to the two questions…
What is the connection between the Crib, the Cross and Christ’s Mass?
They are part one message – God simply loves us and asks us to love one another as God has loved one of each of us.
What is the connection between the Crib, the Cross, and Christ’s Mass to our day to day sometimes chaotic lives?
When you feel confused by where your life is taking you, fearful of a journey you did not expect, when your life is threatened by forces outside your control…
Then think of the real world of Mary and Joseph.
When your hopes are dashed, you are locked in an upper room of your life fearing outside forces…
Think of the disciples as they rode the roller coaster from the hope and joy of Palm Sunday, to the horror of the crucifixion, and the confusion on the road to Emmaus. Think of the real world of Peter, James and John and so many others.
When you are tempted to hang around only with those who look and think like you…
Think of a God who entered into the mess of our world and who washed our feet to act out what it means to be sons and daughters, brothers and sisters who wash one another’s feet and stick together through thick and thin.
Welcome to the messy world of God’s Kingdom on earth.
Let’s celebrate Christ’s mass by becoming foot washing disciples who give gifts in memory of Him who gave us himself as a gift and an example.