Christmas, a time to reflect on that fact that God sent his Son into a bloody, violent world. Is that how your Christmas memories have been spent? Probably not. We pursue it as a season to dismiss the violence of the world, trying instead to create a miniature world of our own making, filled with laughter, fellowship, family, happy reflection, gifts, good food, and satisfying rest. All good things, but temporary indeed, unless there is an eternal promise assigned taking us into the world that promises no more tears.
Yesterday is the 5 year memorial of the Sandy Hook Elementary mass shooting. Tiny little faces, of an age of innocence, violently taken from this world. Overwhelming to process or relive. I think I will go shopping for Christmas gifts instead or scroll quickly past any story that reminds me of this world's ugliness. That is the easier way, to live in self-created obliviousness as a way to manage trauma I simply can't process. But denial and staying oblivious to how evil will be dealt with is a dangerous path.
There is a way to look at wicked acts. We can mourn with those who mourn, and have peace in the midst of a world prone to darkness and deceit. We can look at ourselves too. But that is only possible when you begin by looking at the baby wrapped in swaddling cloths laying in the animal manger.
There is a tiny little face, who died a violent death, yet not at an age of innocence. He was 33 when he died a criminal's shameful death on a cross. While not an age of innocence, he was innocent. Sinless, without spot. The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
God the Father had specific design for his Son's holy entrance. He purposed Christ to completely identify with the oppression, rejection, poverty, fear, and violent acts of this world. The Father sent his Son to die and it was announced as Good News! What a paradox the shepherds in the field were presented with! The angles appeared to them, the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel told them to not be afraid because they brought good news of great joy for all people. They were told their Savior, the promised Messiah was born. They were to discover the sign, a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.
What manger? Where could the manger be found? What town? How in the world to find the baby?
Difficult for us to comprehend, but not difficult for those particular shepherds. They were Hebrew shepherds who were assigned to watch and raise spotless lambs for sacrifice in the temple in Jerusalem. There was a religious significance to Bethlehem, so when Bethlehem was mentioned to those who lived in the area, people naturally associated it as the place of "sacrificial lambs". 1
Pause and think about that.
There is a reference in Micah 4:8 that mentions a "watchtower of the flock". This watchtower was in Bethlehem and was a protective place to keep sacrificial new born lambs. They were put in a rock-like manger made of clay and straw. They were swaddled in cloths, and placed in the manger after birth, so that they could be protected from marks to their flesh; and possibly be used as a holy sacrifice at the temple if they grew to be without spot or blemish.
The angel who spoke to the shepherds in the field near Bethlehem was speaking their language. Those shepherds knew exactly what mangers the angels referenced. The angel was telling them that a perfect sacrifice was sent from above; and would be found like a little lamb wrapped in cloths lying in one of those mangers at the watchtower of the flock!!! 1
Take some time to meditate on the fact that God sent his Son to offer forgiveness in a bloody world. Look at the baby in the manger that was sent to die. Let His sacrifice minister to whatever is bleeding within. The Holy child heals. His cries were heard. God watched over him to keep him from all danger until He could grow and fulfill His holy call to die so all may live. Cry out and ask Him to enter your heart. He is Good News for all who believe!!!
And for more reflection, you can read through a FB post I wrote 5 years ago as reaction to Sandy Hook. Know that God took those children into His everlasting arms. Believe in the world He promises after this one ends. There is a home being built, there is a home that evil cannot destroy. Open that gift this season to relieve your troubled heart.
John 14:1-3- “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
1- Harold Smith, article "The Birth Revisited", www.hethathasanear.com
Facebook post from December 15, 2012- 21 days to x-mas minus 11- Yesterday. I stopped by church to deliver something and while heading to the office, I look down the hall and here come the pre-schoolers, all in a line to go meet their parents. There is just something about watching their innocence at this age that lifts my spirits, so I slowed until they passed by me. One little boy caught my eye because he was marching along in such a happy, high step and smiling brightly. I caught his eye too; and when he walked by he announced loudly (as he put his hand on his lovely friend in front of him), “I’m going to marry her!” So precious! I got what I wanted, an invitation by a child to join him in celebrating his child-like wonder and happy belief. Then, not too many hours later, I heard about the shooting of elementary age children at Sandy Hook. After over an hour of watching reports of it, I spent a good hour standing in my kitchen overwhelmed and needing silence. I thought about that little boy earlier who lifted my heart. He was only a little younger than the 20 little ones who lost their life violently yesterday. Total dismay and shock. How will people heal? How will people make sense of it? As I thought about what the news reporters and analysts and specialists said, their complete confusion and lack of an answer was obvious. It was also obvious, they so desperately wanted one.
At the risk of sounding far too simple, there is answer of child-like response and it is to "look up". The Christ child, the little One with a North Star that leads you to him…The Lord Jesus is the only light and answer for such a dark place. Why? Because in moments like this we need peace that SURPASSES our human understanding. He promises to give it- Philippians 4:7. That scripture promise also says that Jesus will protect our minds and hearts. Listening to a pastor interviewed in the area last night, I heard him express many people he knew were clutching to Jesus as their only hope to get through the trauma. He said he was very confident based upon what he had already seen in their tight-knit community that people will hold on to God, despite the incomprehensible events, he has already seen and heard many who can partition off evil as evil and hold on to God’s goodness. The hope of Heaven, an eternal life with Him… that is our real life. Sounds crazy but it’s not to those of us with His Spirit in us. He confirms it. He comforts. He consoles. He gives peace that surpasses understanding. If you are in despair, please look up. This Christmas, I am praying that your spirits will be lifted and saved from this dark world. There is a mystery of child-like wonder to seek out, for you can know him, he can live in you and will be with you- ALWAYS.
John 14:16-18- 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you
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Into the Waters Ministry is a 501(C)3 public charity. Our mission is to inspire you to linger longer with God, to draw near and know Christ. For those willing, it is a place of supernatural hope and healing. I know this first hand. My name is Gina; and I'm the founder of the ministry. My 20+ journey with God has been centered on immersing myself in the safe relationship God offers, learning about the power of surrender, and receiving His life in greater measure! I've experienced radical healing in mind, body, and spirit and believe God for more! I long for others to position themselves for the same! Into the Waters' resources help you spend quality time with God to enter His rest and receive His divine provision. Let us help you experience more of God! Read the blogs, try the exercises, participate in online sessions! His promises for life and wholeness are offered to all! But you have to say "Yes!"