A December Note from Pastor Rich

Take the year 1809. The international scene was tumultuous. Napoleon was sweeping through Austria; blood was flowing freely. Nobody then cared about babies. But the world was overlooking some truly significant births.

For example, William Gladstone was born that year. He was destined to become one of England's finest statesmen. That same year, Alfred Tennyson was born to an obscure minister and his wife. The child would one day greatly affect the literary world in a marked manner. On the American continent, Oliver Wendell Holmes was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts. And not far away in Boston, Edgar Allan Poe began his eventful, albeit tragic, life. It was also in that same year that a physician named Darwin and his wife named their child Charles Robert. And that same year produced the cries of a newborn infant in a rugged log cabin in Hardin County, Kentucky. The baby's name? Abraham Lincoln.

If there had been news broadcasts at that time, I'm certain these words would have been heard: "The destiny of the world is being shaped on an Austrian battlefield today." But history was actually being shaped in the cradles of England and America. Similarly, everyone thought taxation was the big news—when Jesus was born. But a young Jewish woman cradled the biggest news of all: the birth of the Savior.

Oh, you say, had I been there at Bethlehem that night I would have seen. I would have understood. I would have known it was the Christ child. Would you? There is one way of knowing:

Ask yourself what you have seen this Christmas Season. When you watched the 6 o’clock news did you see chaos and strife, or did you see sheep without a shepherd? When you went out to do your shopping did you see only hordes of people in the stores, or did you notice the worried expressions on some of their faces—worried because they are facing this Christmas without employment or enough money and they don't know how they are going to make ends meet?

What did you hear this Christmas season? Did you hear only the blast of music and carols in the malls, or did you hear the silent sighs of the lonely and the bereaved who may be dreading Christmas because it accentuates their loneliness? And in the midst of the sounds of honking horns and people arguing over parking places, did you hear faint sounds of laughter coming from children in another part of the world who opened a box containing gifts received for the first time in their little lives? Or have you heard a sigh of relief from some families and children because you furnished food and toys for their Christmas?

You see, so often what you see and what you hear is not dependent upon the event but upon you. If you did in fact hear the cry from the lonely, the laughter of poor children, if you saw the sheep without a shepherd, then, and only then, might you have noticed the events that took place in Bethlehem that night. If you lacked that spiritual seeing and hearing then you probably would have been with the 99% who were present but who saw or heard nothing out of the ordinary.

In the end, perhaps one of our Christmas carol’s words says it best: “No ear may hear his coming, but in this world of sin. Where meek souls shall receive him still, the dear Christ enters in.” Amen.

Have an aware and blessed Christmas.

Serving Christ Together,
Pastor Rich