My sister-in-law handed me a tiny box. Her anticipating eyes — wide, bright — told me this was a gift I’d love.
I peeled back the wrapping paper. Inside: a necklace with an amethyst cross under beveled glass. I held it in my hands, grateful. I turned it over and over and over again.
The charms droop below my neckline, and fall over my heart. The amethyst sparkles. This is my birthstone, decorating a cross. And I can’t help but think how the rough-hewn Calvary cross — unadorned, but for my Savior — is my birthstone. Yes, that cross where Jesus died is my real Birthstone.
And I am alive.
Thirty-three years separates the wooden trough from the wooden crossbeams. And two days after Christmas, I can’t stop thinking about what brought Him here, and what held Him there: My sin.
I reach up to cup the cross in my palm. I wonder: Will they all think it strange that I talk about an execution so soon after the birthday party? Is this is a bit like visiting a new mother in the maternity ward, cooing over her newborn in the isolette, and then turning to her to blurt out: “You know, he’s going to die someday.”
But I can’t help it.
I think it is good and right to remember the cross, and to speak of it, unafraid. Christmas is just one chapter in an epic story that spans the ages. Oswald Chambers once wrote that when we speak of the Cross, the “energy of God is let loose.”
I grasp the cross, aware of unseen energy on the dawn of redeeming grace.
Yes, I can speak of a cross on Christmas.
Because I would have missed the point entirely if — when I looked into the manger — I saw anything other than a Lamb.
I intend to carry Bethlehem all year through.
I also plan to carry Calvary.
“But God forbid that I should glory,
save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
— Galatians 6:14