Death has climbed in through our windows and has entered our fortresses (Jeremiah 9:21).
Plywood carolers stood on the front lawn. The doormat showed Frosty the Snowman. Inside was a tree, decorated with care. Homemade cookies lay on the counter. It was a wonderful sight at a wonderful time of the year. Except, death had climbed in through the window. That’s why the hearse was in the driveway.
It wasn’t actually a window that allowed death to enter this lovely house. It needed no opening. It first slithered into a garden far away and long ago. Ever since, death kept finding its victims no matter where they lived, no matter how wealthy, and no matter how old they were. Christmas trees and cookies will not keep death at bay.
Nor will the date of December 25th. A sergeant in the 10th Armored Division takes us back to 1944: “We had planted explosives but the detonator froze when they hit us on Christmas Day. Their infantry rode on the tanks and we were picking them off. I got myself a bazooka and hit one in the motor. The crew came out fighting. They did not surrender. We had to shoot them.” For these Wehrmacht troops, death climbed in a through a hole in their tank. The American Soldier saw it, and never forgot it. This was not a Christmas he wanted to remember.
One might expect that once in a while; death would take a holiday. It does not seem to. But not everything is what it seems. We can report that Death began to die the day that the Christ was born. As soon as the Lord of life invaded Death’s domain, its fate was sealed. The flag of total victory was raised on Easter morning.
However, like the Japanese survivors on Iwo Jima who committed suicide rather than accepting surrender, many humans refuse to acknowledge the victory of the Son of God, and still reject his offer of life.
But Death has been crushed. No one need die. Death (with a capital D) has been turned into death (small d). It is no longer a threat to God’s people. For them, the separation of the soul from the body is now the door to life in glory.
Life came into our world, not through a window, but in a stable. Christmas is a celebration of the landing of the Son of God upon the earth. Instead of radio and newspaper reports, angels announced the invasion into Death’s territory. Shepherds ran with the story. The news spread. It is spreading still.
We don’t need to start worrying that Death is creeping up on us. Death will not ambush us in Afghanistan, or Somalia, or Korea. It does not lurk in the clouds of the sky or the water of oceans. Old age is not its sure-fire weapon. Its hands are tied. We can laugh in its face.
“Death of death, and hell’s destruction.” That’s who the Christ Child is. He slammed shut the window that would have let Death climb in.
We pray: Lord Jesus, we must celebrate the day of your birth. You came to destroy enemies that would have robbed us of life—Life Eternal. We join your holy angels in singing, “Glory to God in the highest.” We shall live forevermore because of Christmas Day! Amen.
Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Cape Coral, Florida-Provided by WELS Ministry to the Military