Originally posted in December of 2014, I am incredibly saddened by how relevant all of these thoughts and feelings are to this upcoming season as well. We can’t quite seem to grasp the concept that Jesus, the reason for the season, is LOVE:
Our world is hurting. This season of hope is filled with pain, anguish and suffering for far too many. Hurt is running rampant. Many live in fear. Fear of men. Fear of their neighbors.
Christians are being exterminated in some parts of the world by extremists who are killing men, women, and children — young and old alike. All because they cling firmly to their faith and refuse to renounce their God.
Looters are doing damage to property and stealing because they feel that justice hasn’t been served. In response they are protesting by destroying the homes and businesses of people who had no control over the verdicts.
Mothers are crying for their babies that will never again hug them in this life.
Police officers are no longer safe in their own cars.
Our world is in utter chaos. It isn’t just happening in some distant part of the world. It is right here in our own streets.
How can we ever heal all of the pain? The answer is simple. We can’t. All we can do is be there for the lost, the hurt, and the wounded. Love them. Comfort them if we can. And pray. Always pray.
“You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sister, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?” (Matthew 5:43-47, NRSV)
But this season we are celebrating by continuing to place our faith and hope for humanity in the small hands of the baby that was born over two thousand years ago. A baby changes everything, according to a Christmas song recorded by Faith Hill. As a mother I can say that is definitely true. However the baby born to Mary and Joseph changed more than just the sleeping habits of Mary and Joseph. This baby brought love and reconciliation to a cold, dark world.
The wee babe would grow up into a man who didn’t resemble the Messiah the people were expecting. He was, however, the Savior they needed. The same Saviour we look to and still need today. Jesus. A man who reached out to the poor, the marginalized, the sick, women, the outcasts, and the down trodden. Who corrected the educated in the temple and did not seek out the company of the wealthy.
This rebel Messiah led a revolution of love. He was the son of an unwed mother and the step son of a poor carpenter. The most unlikely person to become a powerful savior who would take on the Roman Empire. Let us be the unlikely people in our time who live out that same message in a broken, hurting world.
The ancient people of Israel missed the lessons of love and forgiveness Jesus brought. They were more concerned with being citizens of this world and getting the revenge they thought their enemies and persecutors deserved rather than focusing on becoming citizens of heaven and extending a hand of forgiveness. They were more concerned with removing their oppressors. So busy in fact that they missed the love and ever lasting joy being offered to them by the longed for Messiah.
Let us strive to remember the message and live in the way the Great Deliverer taught us. Even as our Lord Jesus hung from the cross, in the utmost anguish, completely innocent of any crimes, he still asked his father to forgive his enemies. Defiled, humiliated, beaten, and tortured, Jesus still begged forgiveness for the ones who knew not what they did. He asked for nothing for himself. He freely forgave his enemies and put their eternal welfare before his own frail human condition.
Love was the guiding principle Jesus taught. Forgiveness his sovereign decree. A baby changed everything.
These are the things that you shall do: Speak the truth to one another, render in your gates judgments that are true and make for peace, do not devise evil in your hearts against one another, and love no false oath; for all these are things that I hate, says the Lord. (Zechariah 8:16-17 – NRSV)