It is at the cross where motherly love can only watch helplessly as Divine Love takes action. The death of her firstborn son gave rise to another son born spiritually out of that same death. At the birth of Jesus, Mary beheld her son. At His death, Jesus said, “Woman behold thy son,” and honored her with the gift of another son in His faithful disciple John to take care of her. Simeon's prophetic words to Mary, “Yea a sword shall pierce thy soul” (Luke2:35), connect the rough wooden trough to the rugged wooden cross.
The meaning of Christmas—the reason He came—was to “Give” that we might live. “For God so loved the world that he “gave…” (John 3:16). We give gifts at Christmas because He GAVE to us the ultimate gift. “Joy to the world the Lord has come, let earth receive her King!” He gave. We receive. Joy abounds. Many of our sacred advent carols connect the wooden trough to the wooden cross, and even the empty tomb.
“Mild He lays His glory by,
Born that man no more may die,
'Born to save the sons of Earth,
Born to give them second birth,
Hark the Herald Angels Sing,
Glory to the newborn King!'
On this international holiday we call Christmas, as we sit around the tree aglow with shining ornaments, let us call to mind the ornaments or fruit of two other trees. Many years ago an unknown carpenter shaped a small cattle trough from a tree. Just a few decades later, an unknown Roman soldier shaped a deadly cross from another tree. Jesus of Nazareth occupied both and changed the world forever!
“There shall the Child lie in a stall,
This Child who shall redeem us all,
How great our Joy! Great our joy! Joy, joy, joy!
It's no wonder President Kennedy said of this day, "CHRISTMAS...is the most sacred and hopeful day in our civilization."