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Pastor's Notes from The Scribe (January 2015)

posted Dec 26, 2014, 9:40 AM by Russell D. Hampton

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.”  When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him. ~ Matthew 2:1-3

For the past few years, I have participated in a monthly book club held at the Punxsutawney Memorial Library (except for when we read Steinbeck or Dickens… I know, how could I disparage those two literary masters?!).  Our book for January is Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane.  It tells the tale of a seven-year-old boy’s encounter with forces of darkness and evil.  I have found this novel a bit unsettling.  I do not like when children and youth have to face evil and darkness – even though the stark reality of this world is that children and youth face horrors every day. This story, however, has me reflecting upon the birth of Jesus.    

The birth of Jesus brings great joy to people throughout the world.  The Savior – God made flesh – came into the world to bring a message of hope and grace to God’s people.  The Word of the prophets was being fulfilled in his birth.  The news of the birth of this Savior brought joy to many people – shepherds who were keep watch by night and Wise Men who travelled a distance to bring Jesus costly gifts.  This good news continues to bring great joy to people this day and in the days to come.    

Nevertheless, the second chapter of Matthew reminds us that Jesus entry into this world was also filled with terror and fear.  King Herod of Jerusalem and all the people of the city were afraid when they discovered the news of the birth of a new king.  King Herod was threatened by this new king.  In order to assuage his fears, he ordered the murder of all boys under the age of two living in Bethlehem at the time of Christ’s birth.  Fortunately, Joseph and Mary were able to escape to Egypt with the Christ child before this awful act was committed.  But the reality and horror of the story was that many innocent children were killed at the hands of an unjust, fearful and power-hungry king.

The birth of Christ does not remove evil from this world.  It does not eradicate the sinful nature of humanity – a sinful nature that causes destruction, violence, evil, and chaos in the lives of innocent people.  Threats to power lead to acts of devastating proportions.  Many people continue to be victims of injustice and oppression.  The darkness of evil and sin fills this world with acts of violence and death.  None of us are completely immune to the darkness.   

Yet, in the midst of darkness, violence, and death, the light of Christ shines.  The light of Christ’s birth gives us hope as we walk with those who suffered unjustly in past generations and who suffer today.  The light of Christ’s birth reminds us of the promise that we have received the gift of eternal life in the new and glorious world of the Father’s kingdom.  No matter how unsettled and shaken we can be from events of this world, the light of Christ’s birth remains with us when we face any obstacle of evil in our lives. 

As we move away from the manger and slowly journey to the foot of the cross, let us remember to share the light of Christ with the world!  And may the blessings of Christ’s birth bring you joy, hope, peace and love as you heed the call to follow him.   

God’s Peace,

Pastor Maureen

Prayer: Almighty God, as you protected the infant Jesus, so defend us and all the needy from harm and adversity, through Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord.  Amen.