The cross and the crib

Christmas 2018

This life in the manger ended  upon the cross…and we might end there if we really emulated it.

Reinhold Niebuhr

The crib and the cross go together in the holy story which travels across time. The crib, the stuff of myth like crawling ivy and golden treacle, leaches the dynamite from the gospel. Who doesn’t love the baby in his bed? Who doesn’t run from a cross?

In time we have filled in the blanks, sung the 3 kings on the holy night, the silent night, added a drummer boy. Decades ago when we were “a Christian nation” we put the shivering Christ child behind two inches of permaglass at Eaton’s. No more.It’s “Happy Holidays” but the creche  in front of our churches feeds our warm emotions of the babe who smells of talcum powder.

The birth narratives as Michael Dowd writes are night language”—powerful poetry, myth, symbol and metaphor. This is the language which inspires, moves the soul–the magi, the  star, the wicked Herod.we sense there is something dark afoot even at the babe’s birth.

Of course, the evangelists Matthew and Luke (circa 90 CE) know the end of the story, The gospels are largely the Passion story with an intro. The crib will lead to the cross, the scandal, Niebuhr’s “ terrible  beauty”“where in faith we see God hidden beyond history and reason.

Still in this season and every Yule  it is manger time so, signed with the cross of Christ, we have every right to sing another alleluia.