Dec 17

Can I say, “Merry Christmas”? posted by jwatson on Dec 17, 2012

Friday, Dec. 14: My husband, daughter and I were driving us to a friend’s graduation. I was in the back seat, working on a family Christmas letter when my phone beeped. It was a text message from our daughter who works in the hospital closest to the Newtown shooting site:

“A quick prayer request: There was a shooting at a local elementary school…they are bringing the wounded here…”

The news felt like a knife jabbed in the stomach. We prayed! Many of us will always remember where we were when we heard the news of the Newtown shooting.

Today I returned to the task of writing a Christmas letter. How can I say, “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays” or “Happy New Year”? I know people in Newtown and in the surrounding communities. They know families who lost loved ones or were in the school. Christmas for them won’t be very merry. 2013 won’t be especially happy. What can you say to someone so wounded?

I love Christmas traditions. But if you are grieving, celebrations may feel as repulsive as off-key music. And when we strip away the glitter and the trimmings, what’s left?

I thought about Christmas. Two teenagers whose lives were interrupted so that they could bear and raise a Saviour. Few believed their story. But a crazed man did. A king. And the two teenagers soon found themselves refugees with a baby, fleeing in the night to protect the vulnerable child from carnage. Not a merry picture.

And then I thought about a Father who sent his son on a rescue mission. For us. Who would have thought that a baby could rescue humanity? But people for two thousand years, from almost every people on earth, attest to the delicious freedom that baby brought. He doesn’t insulate his followers from the devastation brought by humanity’s rebellion from the Father. But through his sacrificial death, he transforms those who seek him and gives them new life — now and forever.

I don’t know how many times I’ll say “Merry Christmas” this year. But I can certainly say,

“He came for you.”

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