The Bitter and Sweet of Christmas

Christmas Cookies Cooling on Cookie Sheet ca. 2003

 

Twenty blameless children slaughtered a few days before Christmas. What will Christmas be like for their parents?  Dads will put away one of the Christmas stockings hung up early in anticipation of Santa.  Grandparents will return some toys back to the store.  Moms put away baking pans for the cut out cookies their child decorated each year.  It’s a painful story of innocence lost for nothing. Parents bloated with grief shake their heads and an entire town asks why?

The bells rung as the moment for silence dropped onto our shoulders as a heavy burden. Even those who had never been to Connecticut carried a load of sadness as they struggle to continue with their holiday preparation. Some have already put away the reminders of the holiday, cancelling Christmas. Quietness blankets the village of Newtown.

Years ago another innocent life was blotted out. A baby who grew into a man preached love, forgiveness and reconciliation.  His enemies, the religious people of his day cut short his life because in addition to his sermons on loving your neighbors, he dared to claim he was the way to heaven.  The difference was he was not silent. He didn’t pause for a moment of neutral silence when he needed comfort and help. He prayed: out loud, silently, alone, and in front of a crowd of twelve thousand to his heavenly father with no shame or awkwardness  because he knew he was the “the way the truth and the light.”  No one had ever made such a bold statement.

Two tragedies. One, a loss of the purest members of a community. The enemy trampled over an entire nations heart that day. The other, the death of an innocent man. God triumphed over our enemy  that day he sent his son to die on a cross.

Bitter and sweet. December 15th will always leave a bitter taste with little consolation for dozens of families in Newtown, Connecticut. Thankfully,  December 25th, gives us God’s comfort as he reconnects with anyone who will come to Him. I leave you with the fifth verse of a treasured hymn, Oh Come, Oh Come, Emmanuel. It has a melancholy tone because life can be tragic and God knows that. But, this hauntingly beautiful hymn helps us stop and think of the tremendous gift God gave us on Christmas.

Oh Come, Oh Come, Emmanuel

By John Neal 1812-1866

“Oh, come, our Dayspring from on high,
And cheer us by your drawing nigh,
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!”

The rejoicing will come as we find our hope in Him.

 

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