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Jesus, Christmas, and Cinnamon Buns
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by Gil Clelland Pastor Sanctuary London

My mother is an amazing baker. To this day, she is known as the "cookie lady" in our hometown of Kincardine. One of her specialities was the fluffy cinnamon bun — a beautiful expression of her love. I must tell you that the only time a cinnamon bun did not have its ordinary appeal was Christmas morning. My two sisters and myself woke to find the presents under the tree. We wanted nothing more than to run over and unwrap each one of them. However, my mom asked that we wait, have a homemade cinnamon bun for breakfast first. Only after the buns were finished could we proceed to unwrap the gifts. Even this was done in an orderly fashion. One of us was chosen to hand out the gifts one at a time. My mom understood as I do now that a gift is more exciting when anticipated and unwrapping the gift can be part of the gift itself.

Perhaps with those ideas in mind, we can see baby Jesus in a manger in a new light. Luke's gospel account of Jesus' birth shares many of the details we have come to know and celebrate each Christmas: the shepherds, angels, an inn with no room, and a young couple expecting a child going home to Bethlehem for a census. Luke is clear. Caesar Augustus himself, the leader of the most powerful Empire in the world at the time, ordered the census. Augustus was known as Saviour, Lord, and was worshipped as a god. Augustus brought Pax Romana — Roman Peace - but with a price. If you disagreed with his regime, you ended up on a cross. His rule extended over the Israelites who eagerly anticipated a demonstration of God's power. The surprise of Christmas is how God showed His power — with a baby. Luke tells us the census made sure that Jesus was born where a Messiah should be born — in the city of David. That begs the question: who is really in charge? God or Caesar? Luke takes the time to unwrap this gift for us throughout his gospel. With His life, Jesus announced the reign of God —an obvious challenge to Caesar and any other powers of the day. In each interaction that Jesus had we see how God reigns: through love, forgiveness, mercy, and justice for the oppressed. Jesus did not impose truth upon people as Empires did (and still do). Jesus lived out truth. And faced with the final confrontation with the powers of the world, the final weapon any Empire can use — death, Jesus trusted God for victory, continued in love and forgiveness, and died on the cross. In the resurrection, we find, as with the census that what appeared to be a demonstration of the power of Empire was actually the love of God. Jesus rose from the grave three days later demonstrating His way was and still is True. That's why the church still calls Him "Saviour" and "Lord." God's gift was truly worth waiting for. Christmas then becomes a call back to the central gift of God — His son Jesus. When we gaze upon the manger, we begin to see God's power is made known in our weakness.

So, today, when following this Jesus, let's continue to announce God's reign not by imposing truth but through our love, forgiveness, mercy, and seeking justice for the oppressed. Continue to trust God for His victory; His power will be made known in your weakness, as you seek to follow Him each day of your life. Merry Christmas to each one of you. And remember; try to enjoy the cinnamon bun before you open the gifts. The gifts are worth waiting for.






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