The Cycle of Birth and Death at Christmas Time

by P-Francone

Christmas is a time of celebration but is also a time to remember those loved ones who are no longer with us.

Santa Claus, mistletoe, Rudolph and the birth of Jesus are all things that people generally associate with Christmas, and death is certainly not one of these traditional themes. However, with over 150,000 people dying every day, December 25th is certainly not immune to death, dying and funerals.

Christmas is a time in fact when death is on the top of mind for many. Names are crossed off Christmas card lists, the deceased are missed around the holiday dinner table and people’s names are no longer written in the “To” space on gifts laid out under the tree. Christmas is a time filled with remembering lives gone by, indeed listen to the lyrics of some famous Christmas carols and see the circle of life, such as Mary’s Boy Child which says “Trumpets sound and angels sing/ Listen what they say/ That man will live for evermore/ Because of Christmas Day.”

Jesus was born on Christmas and died on Easter, to be reincarnated to live forevermore at the Right Hand of the Father, and just as He completed this cycle, so will we all, only to be remembered on Christmas.

The Reverend Canon Rosalind Brown of Durham Cathedral in the UK tells a story about one of her Sunday School children who asked once “Jesus must get really bored. He is born and dies every year.” A child can be forgiven for not quite understanding how the cycle of life and death operates, but at the same time it is true that we all must take time to remember this cycle of life and death, symbolized by Jesus, but lived by all of us.

So the next time you’re sitting at the Christmas dinner table, remember that Jesus is in all of our hearts, and so are our beloved family members who have left this world physically, but they will forever be in our hearts. All of the famous Christmas hymns and carols are indeed not just about life, but also about death. They are about the willingness of Jesus to be born among us all in human form, knowing that eventually His body would suffer a torturous fate, but that His spirit would be among us for eternity.

At this time of year we can look to the ancient poem Of the Father’s Heart Begotten by the Roman poet Aurelius Prudentius for inspiration. Below are two verses of the nine verse poem;

He assumed this mortal body,
Frail and feeble, doomed to die,
That the race from dust created,
Might not perish utterly,
Which the dreadful Law had sentenced
In the depths of hell to lie,
Evermore and evermore.

O how blest that wondrous
When the Maid the curse
Brought to birth mankind’s
By the Holy Ghost
And the Babe, the world’s
In her loving arms
Evermore and evermore.

Read more:

Faith and Theology | A funeral homily on Christmas Eve

The Father’s Heart Begotten | hymns and carols of

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