So many Christmas cards display images of the Wise Men who came to worship the Baby Jesus. While I believe this to be beautiful story of Christ's redemptive gift to the entire human family (Matthew 2:1-18), I am aware that it contains within it one of the most horrific tales in the gospels--that of the deranged King Herod who, jealous of any threat to his power, orders the slaughter of defenseless children.
"A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled because they are no more." (Matthew 2:18)
Today, in the very midst of this most joyful season, stands the horror of Newtown, Connecticut--and the knowledge that for so many of her citizens, touched by the tragedy of December 14th, there will be no real Christmas this year. I watched on TV last Friday morning as the citizens of that little town stood in mournful silence at 9:30 AM. I saw the drizzling rain come down upon them like tears from heaven, and I knew--as we all know--that no words will ever be adequate enough to match the profundity of sorrow which shrouds that community. Indeed, it is almost blasphemous of me even to attempt to violate the holy silence which must accompany such grief.
But yet my own selfish needs dictate that I try to make some sense of this. So I offer the following thoughts:
First, I pray that the extent of this tragedy will make us more humble and in touch with the fragility of our nature. May it make us a people more peaceful, more empathetic, and more compassionate.
Secondly, the acts of heroic sacrificial love shown by Principal Dawn Hochsprung and the other professional educators who gave their lives protecting the children of Sandy Hook Elementary School is a reminder to Christians of Christ's purpose in being born in human form--to empty himself completely and die out of love for others. On December 14th, we saw such love made real.
Finally, the compassion of people of all faiths and the ecumenical spirit which has emerged from this tragedy must remind us that there is only one God, and we are all God's children. May we learn to behave as brothers and sisters of the human family.
Yes, my dears, this is a sombre Christmas. But it is still the birth of our Lord. May his love be real in your hearts this year.
A blessed Christmas to you all, and thank you so much for your support this past year.