“Now after they [the Magi] had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.’” Matthew 2:13
Jesus was born into a violent and often evil world. His earthly parents whisked him away, and they lived in Egypt until it was safe to return to Nazareth. Jesus knew what it was like to be a refugee. John the Baptist was beheaded; people were stoned to death; crucifixion was a common form of capital punishment during his day. When Jesus was arrested, tried, beaten, and put to death, he experienced the violence and evil of the world full force. Jesus knew what it was like to feel pain, heartache, anger, disgust, discouragement. Because Jesus (Emmanuel: God-With-Us) knew, God knew. God still knows.
God knows our broken hearts, and I believe God’s heart is broken along with ours as we think of 26 people who died a week ago in Newtown, CT. God knows the grief and horror of children being murdered senselessly, of the bravery of teachers and administrators who tried to protect them, of the fear they all felt, and the heart-wrenching feeling of no longer having your child with you physically. God knows. God walks with us. We aren’t alone when we go through the struggles of life. We haven’t been promised that everything will be “a bed of roses” but that we won’t be alone in the journey. Even Jesus had to go through a horrible death.
When we raise our children, we can’t always interfere with their decisions, especially as they grow into their teenage and young adult years. Sometimes, we have to wait for them to make mistakes and learn from them. At least, we hope they learn from them. It’s hard to watch, and if we could, we would change it, protect them, keep them from making mistakes that will negatively affect their lives. But the reality of life is that bad things are going to happen. God is with us in order to give us the strength to get through them. Those who don’t know God’s love are separated from that love, and they make bad choices that hurt others – innocent others.
We can be part of offering a different way of making decisions when we choose love over hate, kindness over violence, compassion over revenge. That is part of what loving our “enemies” is all about. We choose to behave and react differently from the normal expectations. We are part of offering hope to the world. Look at all the good that has started to come out of these shootings. Many people are beginning to do 26 acts of kindness – one for each person who was killed in Connecticut. Many have offered prayers, sent cards of support, collected Christmas gifts, written e-mails, and done whatever they can in order to show their caring for the families and friends who have to deal with their loss.
God knows. God understands. God loves us. God is with us. That’s what Christmas all year looks like. Let us be part of it each and every day!