These days, I had to think of the funeral of an aunt I attended some weeks ago. In my memory I have some mixed feelings about it though. Family members from every possible german direction came flying in; members who haven't seen each other in decades. The funeral feast ended in a nice get-together. But with hindsight I noticed that only in the funeral service itself there was mention of my aunt. The rest of the time, everybody spoke of everything, only not of her. My mom, as the only sister left, wondered even on beforehand why certain people insisted on coming. Could the opening of the testament have played a role, in which certain family members were surprisingly considered? But of course, it was also a very welcome possibility of meeting again after so many years. I'm sure this was in my aunt's interest, too.

But what if this same thing would happen at a common birthday party? When someone is inviting others to their birthday party, then it can also happen that people come who don't have much to do with the host. Usually they would rejoice with many people following their invitation, the atmosphere being joyful and the food being enjoyed. Yet, if at the end, nobody would care to say at least thank you for a lovely party, then the host most probably would not feel so good anymore - it would be frustrating, wouldn't it?

At several Christmas celebrations one could easily get the impression as if people came together, because there is something to inherit or because one might lose the inheritance if being absent. How often is Christmas being celebrated with the main character completely unregarded and who doesn't even hear a thank you. Like in any other birthday party, Jesus is not at all against happy parties, nice food, joy and even dances. But His desire is to receive attention and be included! Maybe this is the reason why at Christmas, the "child in the manger" is being maintained little, like we would really celebrate the birthday of a toddler... On the first or sometimes even second birthday, the child usually is not aware of what is going on around them. The party is mainly done for their adults, like the parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. But with Jesus, this does not work anymore. Think of His birth combined with His obedient way toward the cross, His victorious resurrection and the fact that now, He is seated to the right of His Father. Therefore, it is simply absurd to keep Him out of the celebration of His own party! He is alive! It is no obsequies, neither is it a birthday party for a little toddler, but it is the celebrating memory of the fact that since His birth everything is different - even our calendar!

Christ our Savior is here! He can't be erased from this world anymore. When the angels announced the Good News to the shepherds (Luke 2:10-14), the devil knew that his ultimate defeat began to show. For already in paradise it was being announced to him that the seed of the woman, who he had tempted, would crush his head (Genesis 3:15). Though it is also said that he would pierce His heel, the heel of the Messiah that is, which indeed happened by the nails on the cross, but much more crushing is the very fact that the already chaotic kingdom of darkness became more and more "headless" after Calvary.

Because the devil knew this, he observed the blessing line which came with promises right from the very beginning and so he sabotaged it and tried to extinguish it again and again. You can clearly see this with the ancestors Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, whose spouses all had problems with their fertility. As the announcement in paradise was directed toward the woman, Satan concentrated his attacks on the wifes of the patriarchs. Even when God decided to bring forth the Messiah of the tribe of Juda which traces back to the fertile Lea (and not to Raquel who was not fertile up to then), Satan tried to eradicate the family of Juda from the very beginning on. He almost succeeded in it by the wickedness of the sons of Juda (Genesis 38).

Satan's attempt to destroy the blessing line can be seen throughout the whole of the Old Testament. For example in the attempt of the destruction of all royal offspring of David which God knew how to inhibit though (for example 2 Chronicles 22:10-11). The last attempt mentioned in the Old Testament to eradicate the people of Israel took place under Haman at the time of queen Esther (Esther 3 and 8), which turned into a mighty victory for the Jews.

This is why there was such a big angelic activity around Jesus' birth; not only in the announcement of Mary, but also before and after Jesus' birth itself. Often, we think of the angels who appeared to the shepherds in Bethlehem as a happily praising, harp playing heavenly choir that only appered in order to worship. Unfortunately, the trivializing angel figures don't help a lot in getting a realistic way of understanding things, either, for the Bible speaks of heavenly Hosts. The Hosts of the Lord are a fighting army, which in this case here was sent as sort of security to watch over Jesus' birth. For it was clear how much depended on the success of this birth.

Jesus' way could indeed not be stopped anymore. "... for everyone born out of God overcomes the world," (1 John 5:4). Like this, it is also with our own life: what is born out of God, is maybe only a little seed at first, but will eventually grow into a mighty tree. Even after Jesus' birth there were a lot of fights going on so that His parents had to elude to Egypt (Matthew 2:13). For Satan had inspired king Herod to murder the male children in Bethlehem (Matthäus 2:16). Also here, angels were ordered for the safety of little Jesus (Matthew 2:13).

So at Christmas, we should celebrate the fact that the Messiah could indeed be born! Like I said, this birth could not be undone anymore. Since then, Jesus is alive - up to this very day and beyond! He suffered death on our behalf and said, "I was dead and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys to death and Hades," (Revelation 1:18). Which means, Jesus is having key authority!

It is definitely not at all appropriate to stick to a cute little baby boy in the manger, Christmas after Christmas and make Him remain this cute little baby boy year after year. But let's embrace Jesus as the alive birthday celebrating person who at the same time is the exalted Lord and involve Him in our celebrations together with all the joy for each other, the presents and the good food. Let's have Him present at all times. Amen!

The Christian Counter