From Christmas Chaos to Christmas Hope

An unplanned pregnancy. A harried trip to Bethlehem in response to a government edict. No place to stay. The birth of a child in a stable. Shepherds visited by singing angels. A star. An evil king seeking to kill a small child. Pagan kings traveling to find a Savior. Talk about chaos! Yet it was through this chaos that God entered the world as a baby. A different kind of chaos reigns today. Financial struggles for millions. Substance abuse that destroys lives. Families breaking up. Technology that threatens to mimic science fiction’s worst nightmares. Terrorism. Thousands of children dying from diseases of poverty every single day. But if you look through eyes of faith, you’ll see something besides just the chaos. You’ll see – and be embraced by – the child born in a manger who is bringing new life out of the chaos. In your life. The lives of those you love. And the world.

Embrace Christmas

Everyone seems to be talking about how messed up the world is. Some speak out of absolute fear, others wax eloquently explaining why what is going on is going on, and still others try to use every single crisis as proof that their particular perspective is correct. But the fact remains that most people feel that the world is closer to spinning out of control than it was just a few years ago. So how do you avoid the fear, cynicism and despair that are the inevitable results of living in the 21st century? Embrace Christmas. Not by putting more energy into the tree, carols, gifts and parties – as wonderful as they are. But by going to the child born in a manger, inviting him to be born into your life and experiencing how the one who is the hope of the world is your hope every single day.

When Children Die

My heart hurts today. Indeed, it is breaking. Two precious children of God – two-year-old Ramiya “TinkerBell” Reed and three-year-old Acen King – have died from gunfire in recent days in my city of Little Rock. One from a drive-by shooting and the other from ‘road-rage’. While these events are part of a growing crisis in Little Rock, they are also another tragic example of how an epidemic of violence is impacting virtually every nook and cranny of the world. So what do we do? We must understand this grieves God’s heart more than we can ever imagine and is first and foremost a spiritual issue. We must be outraged, filled with holy anger and declare with everything that is in us that this is not acceptable. We must step forward as people who follow Jesus because we know this is not just someone else’s problem deal with, but also ours. We must pray and seek God’s guidance, and then do what God tells us. We must address all the issues that have led us to this place and be willing to make long-term needed changes. We must come together because it’s going to take all of us getting involved, praying and caring for each other. And, finally, we must understand that ‘must’ is the operative word because doing this is not an option, but a necessity. Not merely because it impacts us. But because God calls us to live our faith.

A Sunday Prayer 12/18/16

Lord,

In these waning days before Christmas that are filled to overflowing with shopping, cooking and travel preparations, we ask Your help to get ready for that cosmic thing You did long ago.

We admit it makes no sense. We acknowledge there are times we struggle with the fact You became one of us, came to us and shared the fullness of Your love right in the middle of the muckiness, pain and sin of human life. And we confess we sometimes doubt You did all of this through the birth of a child.

But we don’t want to miss a moment of what life can be like because of the Christ child. So fill us with Your Christmas Possibilities that allow us to do what we cannot do on our own – embrace that which makes little sense, live our lives in the reality of the Incarnation and see all of life through that tiny child in a manger.

And we ask all of this because we want to ready to truly celebrate Your audacious love from the fullness of our hearts when Christmas arrives!

Amen.