When I decorate outdoors for Christmas, I always include a cross in the front of the display. We started doing this in 1979, the first Christmas after Robyn and I were married. This was way back before the clichés “keep Christ in Christmas” and “Jesus is the reason of the season” were in vogue. I just wanted to do something to convey the spiritual sense of the annual Christmas celebration.
As newlyweds, and working entry level positions at our jobs, our initial entry into holiday festivity was pretty meager. We were poor. We had money enough for our bills, but little else, which created a challenge considering the additional expenses Christmas entails. But I wanted to put a cross in my front yard, with lights on it.
I still have this original cross up in the attic. I made it from a simple pine 2×6, with a cross beam cut and nailed to the vertical arm, spray painted green, with a long strand of white mini-lights stapled up and down the wood. It was my masterpiece. It was my coming out of the closet about my faith in Christ.
The tradition of displaying a cross at Christmas continued on for us at Hillcrest Avenue, moved to Berlin Road when we did, and is now in its twentieth year at our current home on 134 North. It’s not the same cross anymore, but is made from a small cedar tree about four inches in diameter, but still illuminated with white lights, though made of LED’s now.
I’ve put a few red LED’s on it too, located where Jesus’ wrists and feet would have been on the cross. I also use a red floodlight to cast a red hue around the display. It’s subtle I think, but the red is to illustrate that the advent of Christ at the manger in Bethlehem ultimately led to his bloody crucifixion on the cross of Calvary.
You see, the continuum of Christ’s life from birth to death, and finally to his resurrection from the dead, is a solitary expression of God’s love for you. As the expression goes, “He came to pay a debt He did not owe, because we owed a debt we could not pay.” Almighty God, laying down all honor and privilege, become human. Jesus, the Creator, patronized our lost, hopeless condition, and entered the world just as his creation did; through the birth canal of a mother; his mother, Mary, a virgin.
The nativity scene served as the humble entrance of our Savior, and the beginning of a journey to the ultimate humiliation of the cross. Why? As a baby, devoid of glory, glamor, and grandeur, fully human but never of sin, Jesus would suffer the death penalty for our wrongdoings. The cross is the supreme expression of God’s unconditional love.
John 15:13 (RSV) expresses it this way: “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Romans 6:23b (RSV) tells us: “… the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
There is a cross in Christmas
A story we must know
His human life to you he gave
God’s love destined to show
I hope you have a great holiday. It’s supposed to be really cold, and maybe a little white. Here’s praying lots of love and laughter, gifts and games, and food and festivity for you and yours. Just remember there’s a deeper meaning beyond the tinsel and mistletoe, okay?
If you’d like to see our Christmas display, we live one mile north of the old drive-in theater. The Christmas lights are on from 5:30 to 10:30 each evening, until the 12th day of Christmas on Jan. 5. The cross stays lit all night.
Dove Church Wilmington