Saturday, December 15, 2012

Rumors of Hope

It's not only the events this week in Newtown, Connecticut that should affect us. The world is full of tragedy and suffering. Children die every day of hunger and malnourishment. If you've traveled to the third world or witnessed tragedy you've likely seen the pain on the faces of helpless parents or orphaned children and asked "why?"

Yet in the midst of all of this, we are called to care; called to love; called to serve. We're called to make a difference. That may seem like a daunting task - after all, how can we fix problems on such a grand scale? But, as Mother Teresa said, "If you can't feed a hundred people, then just feed one." I admired her so much for her attitude and her dedication. She also said, "What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family."

We who call ourselves by Christ's name cannot allow ourselves to sink into despair, which is the surrender of hope. Every day we have an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of the people around us. In fact, in Matthew 25, Jesus taught us this lesson in The Parable of the Sheep and the Goats. He said, “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ "The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’"

There is a light in the darkness; there is a peace in the midst of the storm. As theologian Carl F. Henry wrote about Jesus: "He planted the only durable rumor of hope amid the widespread despair of a hopeless world." Go and do likewise. 
I end with a prayer written by Max Lucado.
Dear Jesus,
It's a good thing you were born at night. This world sure seems dark. I have a good eye for silver linings. But they seem dimmer lately.

These killings, Lord. These children, Lord. Innocence violated. Raw evil demonstrated.

The whole world seems on edge. Trigger-happy. Ticked off. We hear threats of chemical weapons and nuclear bombs. Are we one button-push away from annihilation?

Your world seems a bit darker this Christmas. But you were born in the dark, right? You came at night. The shepherds were nightshift workers. The Wise Men followed a star. Your first cries were heard in the shadows. To see your face, Mary and Joseph needed a candle flame. It was dark. Dark with Herod's jealousy. Dark with Roman oppression. Dark with poverty. Dark with violence.

Herod went on a rampage, killing babies. Joseph took you and your mom into Egypt. You were an immigrant before you were a Nazarene.

Oh, Lord Jesus, you entered the dark world of your day. Won't you enter ours? We are weary of bloodshed. We, like the wise men, are looking for a star. We, like the shepherds, are kneeling at a manger.

This Christmas, we ask you, heal us, help us, be born anew in us.

Your Children
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