As long as we’ve been a part of our local Lutheran congregation, a fundamental facet of our Christmas Eve service has always been communion. Always. And it was again last night. For almost forty-five minutes we were swept up in the drama of the birth of Christ via words and imagery and song, and then these words cut the narrative like a blade: “On the night he was betrayed…” And in that moment I heard those words like never before.
I realized that long before that black night of Judas-betrayal was the dark night of betrayal of his birth. In the timelessness of eternity that night he was handed over to us to do with as we pleased, and it pleased us to shout, “Crucify him! Give us Barabbas!”
But even though the betrayal was assured, still Christ came.
Of the many things that Christmas illuminates to us, maybe one of the most shining is that the purest incarnations of love will always be betrayed. Always. Oh, we don’t like to wallow in such negativity, but in our deepest marrow we know it to be true. For that pure brand of love is too intense, it howls and strips us bare to reveal us. And though we throw pep rallies rah-rahing our desire to be known, I’m not sure we really do. Or if we do, we only do to a point of our own choosing, and beyond that we rebel and say, “No more. It is too much.”
Even though the betrayal was assured, still Christ came.
On the night be was betrayed
Mary saw his newborn eyes harden
to the black of winter ice,
his stare chilling enough to melt the stars.
Christ was born to cherish us
and this he would accomplish,
even if it killed him.