Who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity
and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good
On this day when Christians celebrate the birth of Christ, reading this
verse from Paul’s letter to Titus gave me pause. “He who gave himself
for us…” stopped me in my tracks! As we awaken on Christmas morning
today, are we really thinking about the way Christ’s death is the true
promise of his birth? Of course, the season of Christmas seems to bring
out in people the “eagerness to do what is good.” But to me, the most
powerful part of that verse is, “to purify for himself a people that are his
very own.” Now we belong to him! Christ prizes us more than anyone
prizes a valuable treasure because he paid for us with his blood.
As a bereavement counselor, I am always aware of how very sad
Christmas can be for those who have lost their loved ones. It is a time
when even the most devout believers begin to feel alone and helpless. It
is during such times when I see people eager to do what is good who
come to the side of their grieving family members and friends. They don’t
need to preach to these grieving souls that God has not forgotten them.
For their presence and loving, active listening is the real sermon!
I love all the sacred and beautiful music of Christmas. But I feel that the
hymn, “Lift High the Cross,” expresses the essence of the message in Titus:
Lift high the cross
the love of Christ proclaim
till all the world adore his sacred name.
O Lord once lifted on the glorious tree
as thou hast promised, draw us all to thee!
Living God, On this beautiful Christmas day, compel us to reach out to those
who are grieving and give the a gift of your presence. Amen.
Sylvia S. Havlish is Coordinator of Bereavement Ministries for Lutheran
Congregational Services, a Liberty life service.