Don’t Have An Ichabod Christmas!
“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel. Luke 2:29-32
Who would ever name their son Ichabod? Perhaps we know the name best from the main character, Ichabod Crane, in Washington Irving’s tale The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. His story and personal attributes are so sad no parent would choose his first name for their own son. But it is the original Ichabod of the Bible who first gave the name its undesirable reputation. The birth and naming of Ichabod in the Book of 1st Samuel follows the delightful story of the birth of Samuel to a long barren mother, Hannah, who was rewarded for her steadfast faith with a baby son whom she with her husband appropriately named Samuel, meaning, “God heard. Samuel became one of God’s greatest prophets. There is simply no comparison between the number of parents down through the ages who named their son Samuel with those who chose the name Ichabod. I don’t know any.
Ichabod’s mother gave him the name just before she died in childbirth. She had gone into labor early with the news that her father-in-law, the prophet Eli, had died of a broken neck and her godless husband had been killed on the battlefield. Even worse in her and Eli’s estimate, the Ark of the Lord had been captured by the pagan Philistines in the battle. She named her son Ichabod, because it means “the glory has departed. It was a time of great despair for Israel. In contrast the announcement of the angels on the first Christmas and the words of Simeon when he held the weeks old baby Jesus in his arms spoke of the entrance of glory into the world in the birth of its Savior; a vast contrast to the birth of Ichabod.
Still the birth of Ichabod, glory departed, and the birth of Jesus, the entrance of glory, means little to us if we do not grasp the meaning of glory. What does glory do for you, for your children, for all mankind? Do we truly want this glory of which the Bible speaks so extravagantly? The concept of glory can fill a library of books, yet it can be simply defined, if for nothing more than to wet your appetite to dig deeper. Glory is your salvation; it is bringing to fruition all the magnificence which God personally created you to uniquely be; it is the removal of the dross and impurities in you which drive you to despair and loss of all hope; it is the perfected, realized answer to the question: “Why do I exist? Your glory is inextricably tied to the babe in the manger, to the crucified Savior, to the risen Lord, and to the reigning King. This is why the apostle says “Christ in you, the hope of glory, all which in your innermost being you hunger to know and be.
Yet, if you are still here tomorrow morning, you continue to face the typical burdens of this life. We know what the Bible means when it says the creation in which we live was subjected to frustration (Murphy’s Law), and will be until it and we are liberated from bondage to decay. Who can deny that we hunger for some glimpse of glory in our life while still dwelling in the dust and fog of this battlefield? The birth of Jesus is our reminder that glory can be experienced now, that we might yearn for it all the more in our heavenly home. Paul conveyed this to the Corinthian church, “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18) Don’t take it from me; take it from Him!
God’s children have experienced glory in the worst of circumstances and situations. The stable birth and manger bed confirm it. There in the vulnerable elements which threatened His infant life, glory came down and dwelt with us. He did so that we might in our own “stables and “mangers know the glory that He desires to share. It is why He came. In an act of faith you must think about it, so it may infiltrate your mind and heart. I think you best solidify such thoughts when you speak about it to your loved ones. Nothing clarifies your own understanding better than having to explain the concept of glory to your little child in a way that he or she gets a picture of what you are saying. Mind you it is not impossible for them to understand. If it were so God would not have encouraged us to tell the next generation about the glory of the Lord in passages like Deuteronomy 6, Psalm 78, and Matthew 18. If you fail in your family for your generation how will your children and their children know? Do not test God by counting on Him to do for you what you are unwilling to do.
Far too many experience an Ichabod Christmas, where the glory has departed. The believer need not have it so. It rests with you.
“Though Christ a thousand times
In Bethlehem be born,
If he’s not born in you
Your soul is still forlorn.
(Anonymous, 3rd Century)
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