On Saturday, I attended a wedding. The following Thursday, I attended a funeral. This upcoming Tuesday, I’ll celebrate a birth. All three events are about endings and beginnings, and the first two events, though quite different from each other, find meaning in the third.
The wedding marked the end of two individual lives and the beginning of one life together. The funeral marked the end of one man’s earthly life and the beginning of his life in eternity. The birth marked the end of the reign of sin and death and the beginning of a new day where God dwells with men.
As I reflect on the first two events, I can’t help but see them through the lens of Christmas. The wedding, for example, is made more weighty when the marriage of two Christians is understood as a picture of Christ and the church. Our understanding of marriage, of the love and the joy and the peace and the faithfulness included within such a covenant, finds its epitome, its ideal, in the love of Christ for the church. And Christmas marks the entrance of the groom into the narrative, the day the bride first heard the voice of her beloved.
The funeral too finds meaning at Christmas. As we listened to stories of how the man lived for Jesus, we remembered how greatly the love of God shined through his life. He was a man changed by the gospel, forever new because of his Savior. Though chronologically separated by about two thousand years, my friend walked and talked with Jesus Christ daily, and his life bore witness to the relationship. Christmas marks the birth of his Lord, of the one whose life would reveal God to us, whose death would overcome the power of sin and death over us, and whose resurrection would bring hope to all of us who have died to ourselves that we might follow him.
The incarnation of the Son of God brings meaning and hope to life and death. At Christmas, we celebrate the love of God that gives purpose to our love. But we do not only remember him; we also abide in him. We walk not just after Christ but with Christ, submitting to his lordship by his Spirit in order to know him and to be like him. We call others to come to him too, to be saved from sin as we have been saved. And we rejoice in hope of life eternal in him. So have a merry Christmas this year, resting and rejoicing in Jesus Christ. And may we come to know him, love him, and serve him more and more each day next year.