Christmas and the Cross
One of my favorite Christmas memories embodies the heart of the season: salvation.
Some years back, my family gathered for Christmas. At the time, almost everyone lived in Florida — that’s since changed, sigh — and we had plans to spread the holiday among a few houses.
On Christmas Eve, we went to church before loading up and heading to Tampa to see my sister. As my husband and I sat on the front row with my Mom and Dad, my brother, his wife, and their children, and another brother, the pastor dimmed the lights as we lit our candles.
He spoke of how a little light can break the largest darkness. Then he beckoned those who’d never walked with Jesus to stand and declare, “I choose the cross.”
The room was silent but weighted with a holy presence. One by one, people began to stand and declare, “I choose the cross.”
You see, the cradle of the Christ child really only makes sense when you look past it to the cross— the whole reason He came.
The pastor allowed the moment to linger. Candles flickered. Another person stood and chose the cross.
Two seats down from me was my sister-in-law. I knew the holy presence in the room beckoned her. Should I lean over and encourage her?
But some moments are meant to be between God and the beckoned. So I remained still.
“There may be more,” the pastor said. “Choose the cross.”
Then she stood, my sister-in-law, her voice wavering. “I choose the cross.”
Even now, the memory of that moment brings tears to my eyes. My mom was crying. My niece. My brother. Something changed in the atmosphere as she made her declaration.
The meaning of Christmas was fully realized in me, in my family, in the whole room, as my sister-in-law chose Love.
After the service, we said our goodbyes, wishing one another a merry Christmas. My husband and I, along with my parents and brother, piled in the car and headed to see my sister.
During the two-hour midnight drive, my heart resonated with the sound of my sister-in-law choosing Jesus. Joy flowed out of my heart. I relived that moment over and over.
Christmas morning came and gifts were exchanged. Delicious food consumed. But nothing topped that one declaration. “I choose the cross.”
It’s easy to love the Christmas season for the festivities, the gifts, the lights and decorations, and the general feeling of goodwill.
But we can only truly understand Christmas when we choose the cross.
How about you? Have you chosen the cross?
Rachel Hauck is a New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal Bestselling, and award-winning author.
A graduate of Ohio State University with a degree in Journalism, Rachel worked in the corporate software world before planting her backside in an uncomfortable chair to write full-time in 2004.
She serves on the Executive Board for American Christian Fiction Writers and leads worship at their annual conference. She is a mentor and book therapist at My Book Therapy, and conference speaker.
Rachel lives in central Florida with her husband and pet, and writes from her two-story tower in an exceedingly more comfy chair. She is a huge Buckeyes football fan.
Visit Rachel: http://www.rachelhauck.com/
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