Monday, December 24, 2012

The Hope of Christmas

It's Christmas Eve, and I am writing this post to reflect on what this time of year means, specifically in light of the terrible tragedy in Newtown, CT, where 20 precious little children and 6 adults were killed on December 14th. I was getting ready for a big party full of teenagers when I heard the news. I had to go on about my work, tucking the information away with a silent prayer. But it lingered in my mind all night. And it hasn't really left my heart. I'm sure it's been the same for many of you. Political and theological debates have ensued as the whole country talks about why and how this happened, and how we can keep it from happening again. 

There is nothing new under the sun. Sin abounds in every vicious and depraved way, as it has in every generation. This should not be a surprise to us. But it should also not make us lose hope. Even as our hearts ache over the senselessness of the tragedy, and we pray for healing of the physical and emotional destruction, we can find joy this season. Christmas... this thing we are celebrating, the birth of Jesus the Christ... is the hope for this country, and for the world. Because that little baby was the Son of God, and he grew up to make a sacrifice for all of us, so that we might have eternal life with God. Previously I wrote about walking in heaven with Hitler, with the message that God's grace, made possible by Christ's death, is big enough to cover even the sins of someone as heinous as Hitler. And Adam Lanza. Some choose to reject Christ's gift, and instead die in their depravity. But that's their choice, because Christ offers it freely to even the worst of us. 

And that is where our hope lies. Hope that God will redeem us as he has promised. Hope that even when the most awful things happen, God can and will grant peace to those who call on his name. 

As you go about your Christmas day, opening presents, eating food, and spending time with loved ones, remember the hope that we are celebrating. This is not just another day on the calendar for spending money and having parties. We are having a birthday party for God Made Man. We are giving each other gifts to honor the gift of salvation that was given to us. Celebrate it! Don't let the evil of this world steal the joy that God has given you! 

Tonight I am praying for everyone who doesn't know Christ, and so doesn't know his hope and joy. And I'm praying for the Adam Lanzas of the world. For the next lost soul that is contemplating the unthinkable, I pray he or she will grasp hold of Hope. And I pray for all those who are grieving the loss of someone special, especially those who don't have the comfort of God to ease their suffering. Please join me in these prayers. 

Have a very Merry Christmas in Christ!

"For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but has eternal life." John 3:16.