Archive for December 15th, 2012

 “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.'” – Luke 2:8-11

Has there ever been a time when you were in pitch black surroundings?  How did you feel when you finally saw light?  These are dark days for our country.  If ever there was a time when we needed the Light of the World, it’s now.  The shepherds were keeping watch over their flocks at night when the angel of the Lord appeared to them.  God could have sent the angel in the daytime, but sometimes we only notice the light when we’re surrounded by darkness.

In the midst of tragedies like we’re experiencing in our country right now, it’s important to remember that our Savior has come to our dark, hurting world to bring hope, healing, and light.  As Christians, I believe we can look to Romans 12 for answers to how we should respond when we feel overshadowed by the darkness of evil that will continue until Christ comes again:

v. 12 – “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”  We pray for those who are suffering, and patiently remember that this world is not our home.  Our time on this fallen planet is short, in light of eternity, and so we patiently wait for Christ’s return, joyful in the hope that he will one day restore his creation and wipe away every tear.

v. 13 – “Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”  While we wait for Christ’s return we have work to do.  We are the Body of Christ, which means we are supposed to continue his work on earth.  If we ignore the needs of our fellow man, then we should not be surprised at their acts of depravity, and according to James 2:15-17, our faith is worthless.  Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”  Acts of violence should not make us shrink from the world, seeking solace in our churches and homes, but rather drive us into the world as Christ’s redemptive agents.  Your act of kindness or hospitality might change the course of someone’s life, preventing a future tragedy.

v. 14 – “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.” When we see senseless tragedies, our natural response is to cry out in anger, looking for someone to blame.  We can even turn our anger toward God, blaming him for the violence committed by men.  But God does not condone evil.  On the contrary, “by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).  “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:12).  When we are suddenly thrust into darkness through tragedy, we can turn our backs on others and God, or we can run to the One who knows suffering, betrayal, torture and death.  Only He can heal our wounds and turn our ashes into a crown of beauty.

v. 15 – “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”  As I watch my children eye their presents under the tree, my heart goes out to the parents with presents under their tree for children who will never open them.  We mourn the loss of innocence for the children who survived.  We lift up our grieving brothers and sisters in prayer.  And yet, we continue to rejoice at Christmas because God so loved this dark, messed up world that he sent Jesus, the Light of the World, to save us from our sins so that all who believe in him will one day rejoice in heaven where there is no darkness.

The nighttime message to the shepherds is the same message to those living in darkness today: “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.”  Joy to the world, the Lord has come!

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