This is my body, given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.
Mary lived it before Jesus said it. Both every true martyr and every good mother who have ever lived have embraced it. It is the purpose of the church and, in this particular kind of giving, the glory of God is displayed to the whole world.
I am not talking about taking communion, although the same things could be said of it. I am talking about the physical realities of Christ’s Passover statement and command to follow.
Christmas is physical. Whether it is bags and boxes or babies and choir blouses, everything we do around Christmas requires, at very least, an acknowledgement of the physical. Many would remind us that if we allow the physical things of Christmas to overshadow the spiritual, we miss it altogether. While that may be true enough, as the blessed mother of a brand new baby this Christmas season, I believe that it can go both ways. That is to say so, too, if we miss the physical realities of Christmas and discount their importance, we may just miss the spiritual truths behind them as well.
Let me explain.
What I mean to say is that, with a newborn, I understand in vivid detail this Christmas season some of the same physical realities Mary was feeling when Jesus was born. From the discomfort long before and the pain days after, I am called to give as she gave. I am reminded in living color, day and night, of the frustration of a newborn nursing child and the overwhelming demands determined by her needs. Mary lived out a very physical picture of what it means, not only to receive, but to give a gift like no other. In agreeing with God about his plan for her and obeying, Mary gave life to the Son of God through the giving of her own body. Albeit unwillingly in many cases, every mother since Eve has done as much.
When Jesus spoke of giving his body, he was referring to his death on the cross. That’s Easter, I know. How does Christmas fit? Well. Thirty-three years before he gave his body in death, Jesus gave his body in life. Coming down from heaven, his very presentation is the gift we celebrate every Christmas. This, the gift of all gifts.
While I cannot imagine how difficult it would be to die for Christ, or, for others as he did, I do know something of what it means to live for him. It, too, is a giving of our bodies. Whether we are called to martyrdom or motherhood; ministry or mechanics; Macy’s or the city mission, our call is the same. It is the giving of our bodies for the glory of God.
…and giving our bodies to glorify God in life may just prove more difficult and demanding than to give them in death.
Christ’s body lives on here on earth today. The church is his physical presence – his body – on earth until he returns. So, next time you go to take communion and you hear Jesus whisper, “This is my body, given for you,” remember him. Remember his death, but do also remember his life. Remember how he came. Remember Mary. Remember your mother. Remember your mission. Remember that you are his body and your purpose is to be altogether spent giving yourself away for the good of others – just as he was. In these living sacrifices, we honor and remember him.
How ironic. Turns out Christmas really is about spending after all. Spend yourself on others like Jesus; like Mary; like martyrs; like mamas. When you sing your spiritual songs and light your spiritual candles, don’t miss the physical. Your presence in the practical, the painful, the presents, the parties, and even the picture perfect provisions all have their place if they are done purposefully. Do all of this in remembrance of Him.