Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas, world!

December began with the usual excitement and happiness. We put up a fresh tree, decorated the house and put on the Christmas tunes.  I love Christmas and the spirit it gives to our family and the whole world.

I was busy with Christmas shopping when I got in my car and turned on my regular talk radio station.  They were reporting a shooting, 26 people shot dead... in an elementary school.  I couldn't have heard it right. Not an elementary school! Not little children! Babies, really.

I wanted to vomit and had to pull my car off the road to weep and take in what I had just learned.  My mind screamed,  "Is there nothing sacred or holy?  Is there nothing off-limits anymore?" I thought about my own children who go happily to school everyday, feeling secure in their safety and the love of their teachers.  It could have been my children.  In fact, it felt like I had lost my own children. What has our world come to?

There truly is no peace on earth; love has been defeated.

And it was almost Christmas; what a horrible time for a tragedy (as if there is any time appropriate).  Christmas would never be the same to the parents who had looked forward to their children's excitement Christmas morning and thoughtfully chosen gifts to please them.  Every year they must grieve their loss as the rest of the Christian world is gathering their families close to celebrate.

It was too much for my heart to bear. I prayed for peace or comfort or anything to help me understand and process what had happened.

The next day I was playing Christmas songs on the piano as my children sang along.  I couldn't keep my mind away from the deaths in Conneticut.  As the children sang and as I tried to sing along despite the growing tightness in my throat and chest, I became aware of the words coming from my mouth, and I saw an image in my mind of the Savoir, with open arms, welcoming and comforting those little spirits:

"Be near me Lord Jesus; I ask thee to stay
Close by me forever, and love me I pray.
Bless all the dear children in thy tender care,
And fit us for heaven to live with thee there."

Lyrics from other Christmas songs came to mind:

"In all our trials born to be our friend.
He knows our need, to our weakness no stranger"

"Sleep in heavenly peace"

Perhaps it was a blessing, a tender mercy, that this happened at Christmastime?  A few lines from a few Christmas songs won't bring back a child or erase the pain of loss.  Perhaps each year as families mark another year without their little one, their grief will be softened as they find themselves surrounded by lyrics telling of God's love and hope. 

The hope is that God sent his Son, a Savior, to overcome sin and death; to truly offer light and hope to our world. Especially in times of pain, grief and death.  We have never needed His hope and light more than now! Indeed Christmas is triumph:

"Joy to the world, the Lord is come!"

"No more will sin and sorrow reign,
nor thorns infest the ground!
He'll come and make the blessings flow!"

"Chains shall he break..
And in His name all oppression shall cease!"

I sang with the choir in church yesterday and could barely choke out the music as we sang,

"God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men!"

The massacre in Connecticut has changed Christmas for me, forever.  I will never mindlessly enjoy the sentiments of the season, or passively celebrate Christ's birth again.  

I celebrate Christ's birth, life, atonement and resurrection more fervently than ever.  I deeply wish you the happiest, hopeful, and Merriest Christmas!