The Nativity sits serenely under our Christmas tree. Mary and Joseph gaze lovingly at their child, the animals look on in silence, the wise men far off follow the star. "All is calm, all is bright." Or is it? I sip my morning coffee reading the headlines: rape, murder, deceit, revenge, and various other acts of evil in bold print, all festively surrounded by a holiday border, and I ask myself again "what have we become?". Those who believe in other gods, or no god at all, are not the ones to blame. It's us, the ones who claim to follow Him with our whole hearts. We have forgotten who He is. As He lays serenely in the manger, gazing up, a halo wrapped around His head, He looks powerless. Helpless. Waiting to be cared for by His earthly parents like any other child. We light our candles, and sing our Christmas hymns, carol for the elderly and infirm, and deliver food baskets to the poor, and we assuage our guilt. We are guilty of leaving Him in the straw. Wake up! The world around is falling into chaos, and as we put on our Sunday best, another man or woman dies without Christ. That should make our hearts scream.
I am screaming. I'm screaming at myself. I think sometimes that I am still stuck in those early Sunday School years. "Who loves you?", teacher asked. "Jesus. Jesus loves me." "Who died for you?", teacher asked, "Jesus. Jesus died for me.". Ahh, me, it's all about me. Jesus loves ME, Jesus died for ME. I'm safe. Oh, tidings of comfort and joy.
Woe unto us who have forgotten the lost. He is coming back, and there will be no second chances. That gift you begrudgingly bought for the boss you don't like, he knows you don't love him. Those distant family members, the ones you "can't" forgive and won't speak to any more, they know you don't love them. The person who hurt your feelings years ago, you'll take them a gift, but your eyes will tell them you don't love them. They know. How can we move them past the vision of the sleeping child if we are sleeping, too? God help us.
"Matthew 24:3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. "Tell us," they said, "when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?" 4 Jesus answered: "Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Christ, ' and will deceive many. 6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of birth pains. 9 "Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold,13 but he who stands firm to the end will be saved."