Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Brutality is Always Unfair

My apologies for the delayed posting. I was under the weather last week. But this was in the cue:
In light of the terrible tragedy last Friday I thought I'd put my two bits in.

When I hear people complain about what happened and blaming it on God I cringe. They ask, "Why did God allow this to happen?" "And, so close to Christmas?" I hate those questions because so much of the ugliness in this world is our fault. I liken it to a spoiled kid running around in slick shoes on wet glossy tile then asking, "why did I fall down?"

When you look at history this is not the first time young children have been senselessly killed.  In fact, if you take a look at Matthew 2 you'll see that a major baby slaughter took place some time after the first Christmas. Can you image the guilt Joseph and Mary felt when they found out their kinsmen and friends of the family had lost their babies? Knowing why they were spared such a loss and pain, and yet the town that found favor enough to herald the birth of the messiah was not. Can you image the confusion the families had? Wondering what did they do that warranted such an evil attack from the jealous lunatic that ruled the land?

I am so thankful that in the midst of our confusion and bewilderment we all have a God who knows this pain. Who has helped others through it all. He's seen it. He knows it. He will comfort.

But each must choose to turn to Jesus for comfort. It's part of the gift of free will that God gives us. The will to worship him or not worship him. The will to obey his laws or not obey them. The will to walk in the path of righteousness and blessing; or to follow our every desire, casting possible consequences to the wind. The will to turn to him and receive the comfort that only he can give, or to not turn to him.

He's not the reason for this pain we feel. He's the solution.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Not Alone

When you read or see the Christmas story presented do you get a sense of Mary taking off to Elizabeth's house all on her own? Have you read about the roads in those days? Jesus wasn't making it up in Luke 10 when he says a man was attacked on the road.  While some roads were more dangerous than others, no one in their right mind traveled alone, including the Romans.

I have to ask . . . Do you think any righteous man would allow his teenage daughter to travel several days south to see a relative by herself? Not.

Do you think her promised husband would agree to it if by some far off chance her father did allow it? Not.

Mary had to have been accompanied by someone when she went to see Elizabeth.  She was not alone in her travels. Yes, she was alone in the weight of the circumstances she bore. But, she would not have been alone physically. Have you heard people say you can feel all alone in a crowd? I'm sure Mary felt this way often.

And, while we see Joseph taking Mary alone on a donkey to Bethlehem let's not forget that Mary's family was of the same lineage. So they too would have to travel to Bethlehem. The importance of the statement in Luke 2 is not that Joseph and Mary went to Bethlehem, but that Mary traveled with Joseph as his wife rather than traveling with her family.

I know this is a foreign thought to many of you, but think about it. Yes, the weight of what was happening to them was squarely on their shoulders. And some supporters may not have completely understood. But God did not hang them out to dry. They did have support and prayers being lifted up for them in the challenges they faced. They were, in that sense, not alone.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

I'm What?

Have you ever stopped to think about the enormity of Mary's pregnancy? Of how brave she was to accept God's call?

Being pregnant out of wedlock is bad enough for most cultures nowadays. But back then you could be disowned by your family and I mean never-see-the-family-again-ever disowned. Not to mention the village kicking you out for giving them a bad name.

Think about it . . . imagine you're a teenager.  You love finding quiet places to talk to God alone, but you rarely get a chance because you're helping with your siblings. You're up at night to fill the oil in the lamp. Then, rise early in the morning to start the whole process of making bread and drawing the water. So you sing psalms as you work and pray as you go.

All your efforts going to prepare yourself to be the best wife and, someday, mother that you can be. You think you've pleased your father in your efforts because he's arranged a marriage for you with one of the most righteous men in town. So, you feel blessed. . . things are going as planned.

Then one day, life comes tumbling in on you. An angel appears. Tells you you are going to have a baby. And not just any baby. The baby that so many women around the country have been feigning. You're going to give birth to the Messiah. The Messiah. The Savior of your people.

Who wouldn't want this? Even it means all your plans for the future have just been shot out the window? But who would believe a young girl from the backwaters part of the country would be chosen by God Most High for such a feat? And what will the others think? It doesn't say how long it took Mary to answer the angel, but she does the bravest thing of all. She accepts God's calling on her life.

Mary took the chance that God knew what he was doing. That he would provide for her even if it looked like her world could quickly fall down around her and everything she knew would be gone. She still said yes. That's brave.