Friday, December 14, 2012

Celebrating Christmas In The Midst Of Tragedy

A Fox News alert came on my cell phone at 12:51pm today, Friday, Dec. 14, 2012. Here's what it said, "A gunman opened fire Friday inside a Connecticut elementary school, and multiple people -- including the shooter -- are dead, according to officials. Reports also said children were shot but it remains unclear whether any were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown."

I was just pulling out of Wawa after getting gas. I can't fully describe what I felt. Shock, disbelief, sickening horror. I felt like crying. As a matter of fact, I don't mind admitting that Francie and I shed some tears over this. What is this world, our country, coming to? I thought of my family - Sarah, who works in a middle school in Missouri, DeRonte who works in a Bible College in Missouri, Loree who works at an after-school program in Silver Spring, MD. All involved in learning institutions. Then I thought about my missionary son Chris who lives in Tanzania, Africa with his wife Emily - is the society they live in actually more civilized than ours?

Of course, Facebook was immediately lit up. Many asking for prayer, many expressing shock and sadness. I'm sure all those friends of mine that have small children agree with what President Obama said - that every parent is going to hug their children a little more tightly tonight. But more than that, as fellow human beings, whether we have children or not, compassion for our fellow man is sparked by this tragedy. And even more terrible is that it happened so close to Christmas.

I'm reminded that the Christmas story itself has tragedy linked with it. In Matthew chapter two, we are told that just after the Magi visited Jesus, they were warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, but to return to their country by another route. When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” (Matthew 2:12-13)

Now this is where the tragedy happens: When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious. Hoping to kill Jesus in the process, he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. (Matthew 2:16)

Jesus entered a nasty world - a world back then that was just as bad as it is now. He came at a time when every kind of evil existed. He came at a time when a wooden cross was used to torture people to death. He knew His ultimate fate, or should I say, ultimate mission. You think the world is bad now? If He didn't come, we would not have an ounce of hope.

Doesn't it seem like we live in a world dominated by evil and darkness? But thankfully, God rescued us by sending His Son. "For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves." (Colossians 1:13)

So even though this Christmas season is marred with tragedy, it is time to celebrate. Celebrate His birth - that He came. Celebrate because only through the birth of our Savior and His ultimate sacrifice for our sins, can we find peace in a world that is full of chaos. Only through Him can we find joy in a season of sadness. And only through Christ can we attain salvation into a heaven where the dwelling of God is with men - where we will live forever with Him.  And He will wipe every tear from our eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain. (Revelation 21:3-4)

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