On the morning of December 14th, 2012, I sat by the gentle glow of my Christmas tree within the pre-dawn stillness. The tranquility of the second stood in direct distinction with the scene unfolding earlier than me in scripture as I learn Matthew chapter two: the story of the Slaughter of the Innocents.
Later that morning, a gunman entered Sandy Hook Elementary and took the lives of 20 first-graders and 6 educators. His horrific actions devastated the victims households, introduced unspeakable anguish to their neighborhood, and thrust our whole nation into mourning.
Within the years since that horrible day at Sandy Hook, flags throughout America have flown at half-staff again and again as america has suffered 5 of the eleven most dangerous mass shootings in historical past.
There have been pure disasters too. Previously seven years, Puerto Rico and the Southeastern United States have endured a collection of monster hurricanes. Wildfires have ravaged California and the mountains of Tennessee. Nations have been torn aside by struggle, forcing essentially the most weak amongst us from their houses and lands. The United Nations Refugee Company estimates there are at present 70.eight million forcibly displaced individuals all through the world.
At the moment of yr after we all lengthy to be close to household and residential, many people have misplaced all the pieces.
The Messiah of these Who Mourn
An often-omitted a part of the story of Christs start presents lovely hope and luxury to these of us who’re dealing with the vacations burdened by nervousness and grief.
Matthew chapter two begins with all the trappings of our fashionable vacation season. There are sudden guests, festivity, and lavish items because the Smart Males come to worship the Christ Baby. However then, the joyful sounds of celebration fade with the setting solar. The village quiets as retailers are shuttered for the day, and neighbors say goodnight and return to the consolation of their very own houses. One after the other, every window in Bethlehem glows with lamplight because the night meal is completed, and moms tuck their little ones into mattress.
After which, the night time is shattered as Herod the Greats closely armed troopers storm by way of the streets of Bethlehem on the cruelest of missions- to take the lifetime of every child boy beneath the age of two.
When the thunder of marching sandals and the clang of armor light into the night time, a refrain of heart-wrenching wails rose to interrupt the silence as historical prophecy was fulfilled.
“A voice is heard in Ramah,
weeping and nice mourning.
Rachel weeping for her youngsters
and refusing to be comforted,
as a result of they’re no extra.
Mary, Joseph, and Jesus barely escape with the few possessions they’ll carry as they flee to Egypt. Gods solely Son, wrapped in weak toddler flesh, turns into a refugee.
Emmanuel: God is with Us
Like Sandy Hook, tiny Bethlehem most probably misplaced round twenty youngsters. Their story is never included in our pageants and Christmas companies. As an alternative, we select to show away from Bethlehems horror and loss.
However God by no means does.
He included this story in scripture as a result of He needs us to know that the infant within the manger is greater than joyful choruses and glittering items. He needs us to keep in mind that Bethlehems darkish night time was Jesus story too. The youngsters who perished had been his neighbors and pals; even perhaps members of His household.
Rachels cry echoes all through the corridors of historical past to remind us that it doesn’t matter what now we have misplaced this season, Emmanuel is with us. The God Who is similar yesterday, in the present day, and endlessly attracts close to to the brokenhearted and bends low to listen to our cry.
He’s the Messiah of those that mourn. The God Who takes up the reason for the refugee. He’s the King of the Universe who most well-liked the manger of a peasant to the trimmings of royalty. He’s the infinite, omnipotent Creator Who humbled Himself to change into weak to all the hatred and violence we may muster. And He stays the God who bears cautious witness to our struggling and walks alongside us in it.
NOTE: Tailored from Creation: The Story of Christmas by Sherri Gragg (Dayspring 2019).