In the truest sense, Christmas is not just a holiday, it's a happening. It's something that happens to you, something you haven't earned and definitely don't deserve. It's something God does, a gift of grace, a sacramental moment.
That's what it was for the shepherds that first Christmas so long ago. After a hard day of tending sheep, they were sitting around the fire swapping stories -- telling lies most likely, as men are wont to do when they talk about themselves. Suddenly, the night was ablaze and they found themselves immersed in the glory of the Lord. And out of the glory an angel appeared with a startling announcement: "'I bring you good news of great joy...Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find the baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.'"
It's important, I think, to note that there is nothing at all in this account to suggest that anything religious was going on around that campfire. Nor is there anything in the scriptures to lead us to believe that the shepherds did anything to precipitate that angelic announcement. In truth, there is not a shred of evidence to indicate that they were in any way special; nothing to suggest that there was anything in their spirit, or nature, or life style that predisposed them to receive this angelic announcement.Category: December
Following yesterday’s killing spree at an Omaha, Neb., shopping mall, in which nineteen-year-old Robert Hawkins shot and killed at least eight people before turning his gun on himself, I found myself wrestling with two questions. The questions were not new. They were the same two questions I have struggled with following each killing spree, whether it happened at Columbine High School in Colorado or on the Virginia Tech campus or at the Trolley Square mall in Salt Lake City, Utah.
The first question is a “why” question. Why did he do it? What could make a person kill people at random? Did he have no feelings for their families, no concept of the kind of pain and suffering he was inflicting?
No one can know for sure why Robert Hawkins did what he did but the information coming from the news media gives us a portrait of a deeply disturbed young man, an outsider in many ways and estranged from his family. When I consider that information two words come to mind: anger and despair.Category: December