The Reality of the Nativity

20 children shot and killed in an elementary school in Connecticut.

22 children stabbed at a primary school in China.

As moms we hug tighter the children in our own homes.  And we wonder at the evil, the brokenness, the sin.  Our hearts break at the tragic loss, ache for the moms who will spend Christmas morning mourning.

We echo the words of Longfellow,

And in despair I bowed my head,

“There is no peace on earth, ” I said.

“For hate is strong and mocks the song

Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

We lose sight of this sometimes, the reality that the nativity wasn’t set in a Norman Rockwell painting. 

The Reality of the Nativity www.terilynneunderwood.com

It was a dark time.  God had been silent for 400 years.  The Roman rule was oppressive and harsh.  The trip to Bethlehem wasn’t a celebration … it was a burden.  They weren’t bearing gifts for loved ones, they were weighed down by the coming-any-moment baby and uncertainty about what the days ahead would hold.

And when the Baby came, it couldn’t have been what we portray in our Christmas pageants and in the nativities we artfully arrange in our homes and churches.  A baby, the Baby, born in a barn—with the dirt and smells and noises that barns entail.  The dark night was pierced with the sounds of a girl screaming with the pains of childbirth, the pains promised in Genesis 3.

Dr. Moore, from Southern Seminary, provided a powerful perspective on the tragic shootings in Connecticut, a reminder to us about the reality of this world, our world, in desperate need of redemption:

[L]et’s remember that Bethlehem was an act of war. Let’s remember that the One born there is a prince of peace who will crush the skull of the ancient murderer of Eden. Let’s pray for the Second Coming of Mary’s son. And, as we sing our Christmas carols, let’s look into the slitted eyes of Satan as we promise him the threat of his coming crushed skull.

The mystery of evil is a declaration of war on the peace of God’s creation. The war goes on, but not for long. And sometimes the most warlike thing we can say, in an inhuman murderous age like this one, is “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.”

We’ll mourn for children’s lives ended far too soon.  We’ll ache for empty mothers’ arms.  We’ll cry for a community shattered by grief and sorrow.

But let us also remember this:  From the curse in Eden was the promise of Emmanuel, God with us!  The promise of our redemption, the hope of our eternity.  And so, we remember and hold tight to the words of Paul to the church at Thessalonica:

For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words. {1 Thessalonians 4:15-18}

And we join with one voice in that final stanza of Longfellow’s beautiful poem,

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;

The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,

With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

 How have the recent tragedies pointed you to the promise of redemption?

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