Christmas is a time of love, joy and peace – a time when we celebrate the greatest news of all time that Love came down from heaven to earth. But this good news in 2012 is marred by the tragic and senseless massacre of 20 children and 6 adults at Newtown's Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, USA. It is a grim reminder of the reality of evil. It brings to mind the slaughter of all boys two years old and younger in Bethlehem by King Herod on the first Christmas more than two thousand years ago.
In such times it may be very difficult to proclaim "Joy to the world! The Lord has come!" Some may wonder where is God in all this. But this is the greatest mystery that we share with the world – that God came down from heaven to transform the hellish conditions of our earth. The message of Christmas is that through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we can experience the reality of God with us.
Jesus taught us to pray for God's Kingdom to come, for His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. He died on the cross to answer his prayer that God's will be done. He came to show us how to make the world a better place by bringing a piece of heaven down to earth. Christmas is a time when we celebrate the greatest and most wonderful news of “When Up There Came Down Here.” When we truly have God with us, what more do we want or need?
The world celebrates Christmas with songs wishing one another a Merry Christmas. But the Christmas carols reminds us of a deeper spiritual reality of a silent and holy night; of the stillness that we need in order to experience the wonder of Christmas; of sharing our joy with the world for our Lord has come; and to tune our hearts and minds to the angelic voices in the heavenly realm.
In the Upper Room Daily Reflection on 22nd December 2012, Beth A. Richardson shares the following insight:
God comes to the child who lives on the street, for the parents who struggle to feed and clothe their children.
God comes to the one whose loneliness or depression intensifies every Christmas. …
Emmanuel – God-with-Us – is coming to us, to meet us wherever we are – happy or sad, joyous or grieving. God comes to stand with us, whatever our condition. And we thank God for that promised gift of presence.”
The bad news we read every day is that the world is in a mess with an unpredictable future. Our hearts are filled with fear for what the future holds. But the good news is that perfect Love will cast out all fear. Jesus came to open the way for us to draw close to God as our Heavenly Father – to relate to Him out of love rather than out of fear. A secular writer made the following observation:
"Every moment of your life, you are offered the opportunity to choose - love or fear - to tread the earth, or to soar the heavens. Fear would walk you on a narrow path, promising to take you where you want to go. Love says, 'Open your arms and fly with me.'＂
Because of Christmas, we can choose love over fear. We can live by faith that God is with us because of the birth of Jesus Christ some two thousand years ago. What is more important is how this Christmas will make a difference to the rest of our lives in the years to come.
May this Christmas awaken us to look for God's movement in the world. Let us pray that each one of us will be a part of God's work in redeeming the world. Let us reflect this Christmas on what it means to live a life of compassion so that we can bring love, joy and peace to those who are suffering and in need of God's agape love.