I've been thinking about Advent and how we cannot divorce it from Easter, mostly because we had been preparing for a Communion service for the last Sunday of Advent. As usual, Lauren Winner's words (from Girl Meets God) are gold:
“The waiting is meant to be a little anxious. I picture Jane Austen heroines. They are never quite sure if their intended will come. We Christians can be sure; we can rest easy in the promises of Scripture. But we are meant to feel a touch of that anxious, handkerchief-waving expectation all the same.
“The calendar tells us that all this culminates on December 25, but really the whole season slouches toward Easter…Even His birthplace takes us to the Last Supper: Jesus, the Bread of Life, is born in Bethlehem, bet lechem, “house of bread,” and at the Last Supper, He will break bread for us, and then on the Cross He will break His body. Nothing in Scripture, even the names of birthplace towns, is coincidence.”
Oh gosh, I just love that so much! Bethlehem, "house of bread." Rabbinical reading like that reminds us that God is the inventor of narrative and literary style.
Even His birthplace takes us to the Last Supper. And so it seems fitting that we would take Communion at Christmastime, which is what we did at the 6:30 service this past Sunday. At the Lord's Table, we remember that Jesus was flesh and blood for us and that He shall come again. We remember that we are family, united by that blood, which pulsed through His tiny body in the manger and poured out of Him on the Cross. We remember that Christmas is not about presents and feasting and jollity, but about a King who came to die in order that His Kingdom might be ushered in.
As I've thought on these things, the Christmas hymns that mention the Cross have become so precious to me. Not many of them do, when you really stop to listen. But I've been loving "What Child is This" the past couple of days (particularly Sarah Story's rendition--you can get it for free from Noisetrade.com), as well as one that's new to me from Red Mountain Church--it's called "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silent." It's particularly poignant in thinking about the Lord's Supper.
As of old on earth He stood,
Lord of lords, in human vesture,
In the body and the blood;
He will give to all the faithful
His own self for heavenly food.
This Christmas, may you rejoice in the One who came and died a real, fleshly death for you.