Christmas is so bittersweet.
There is the Child. The shoot from the stump of the tree of Jesse, called Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Prince-of-Peace.
There is his mother, young, trusting, faithful, who would be told by Simeon soon that her child would grow to be the cause of turmoil, and that her own heart would be broken.
There are shepherds and there are the wise men from the East, who sought for the child, asking, where is the child who born the King of the Jews?
There are other children, the children of Bethlehem, slain by Herod. There are the mothers and fathers of the other children, weeping for their sons, asking of a distant God, why?
There is the man the child grew into, who walked the roads of Samaria and Judea, healing and performing miracles, and teaching. The man who will be betrayed to crucifixion and death.
The manger stands in the shadow of the cross. Without that shadow, Christmas has little meaning, simply a story about a young woman of faith and her baby. The light forming that shadow is the glow from the mouth of the open tomb.
So we celebrate the child, keeping in mind all the while where the end lies. Except it’s not the end, for there is the resurrection.
The Child is Immanuel, is God-With-Us, and by His life, death, and resurrection brings hope to us all.