I among most of the world have been heartbroken with the recent tragedy in America. For a family and community to lose one precious child is heartbreaking enough; but here in one fell swoop, we hear of a murderous rampage which took the lives of so many. Here in Australia our newspapers, radio and television have been full of the stories. The internet also is full of stories of the tragedy of this event. A horrendous tragedy that brought out the heroic best in many who would no normally consider themselves nor would we consider them to be heroes.
It was only a few days earlier that our Australian media carried the story of a young student who died of anaphylaxis at school. And once again our eyes and minds were filled with the tragedy of a young life lost. What I have found sad in our media is that no one has been reporting that someone went on a rampage on the 14th of December in a Chinese School with a knife. An activity that caused the badly wounding of 22 students and 1 adult. According to the CBC news this has been the latest of a series of periodic rampages in preschools and kindergartens in which people have been hurt.
I have a online friend who lives in Syria. There is a so called freedom fighters tank out the front of his house. He has to walk past it and the freedom fighters to go to school. He is in a catch 22. He is told by the rebels that he must fight for them, or they will kill him. The other side of the coin is the government troops who are fighting against these rebels, and if he joins them, he will likely be killed by them. I hadn’t heard from him for about 6 weeks, and I had thought the worst, and was pleasantly relieved when he made contact with me only a few days ago.
We have Australian troops in Afghanistan. It’s likely that some will be killed, or be injured over this Christmas period. The same could be said for our US and other allies who are fighting there and elsewhere also. But, its not only our troops who have the possibility of being injured and killed. Those they are fighting are also someone else’s child. And the stupid thing is that publically they state they are fighting for peace. I have ministered to homeless men who have fought in wars. Men haunted by what they saw and did in the Sudan. Kill or be killed by boy soldiers.
But the reality is that our peace cannot be brought about through death and destruction. I am 45 years of age. A man in my own right. But, my mother still believes that I am her son. And no matter how old I grow, I will always be her son. And around the world, sons and daughters. Grandsons and granddaughters. Brothers and sisters. Nephews and nieces. Cousins, uncles, aunties, parents, grandparents will face death and destruction in the name of peace. And the reality is that this peace is no kind of peace at all. For it just causes unbelievable heartache.
But, there was a child born. A child who was born just the same as many others today. And his name is Jesus. While he was born 2000 years ago, he is and was the most important baby born in the world. For he was and still is, Immanuel which means God is with us. The prince of peace. For God so loved the world, he loved his creation so much that he was heartbroken to see his creation stained by sin. His creation hopeless in the grip of sin. For the result of sin in the world was death. And there could be no greater sin then those who are made in the image of God going about killing others who also are made in the image of God.
So God humbled himself and came to earth as a mere child. And within his short time on earth he came to reconcile all of humanity to himself. And this child grew up to be a young man. A man who showed us the way God wanted us to live with each other. A man who showed us the way to walk humbly with God. But, while he lived with us as a man, he was God himself incarnate. And eventually he faced a brutal torturous death himself – where he faced execution on the cross. But death could no hold him, and 3 days later he raised to life. And from that moment on, forgiveness of sin, reconciliation with God and the gift of life, eternal life was proclaimed in his name.
In 9 days time, we celebrate Christmas. The origins of this celebration came about because of the Godchild. Jesus, Immanuel. The prince of peace was born. While for some there may be a dispute whether or not the 25th of December is the actual birthdate.. the issue is not about the date we celebrate – but just how are we going to respond to the message of life. The offer of forgiveness and reconciliation of all of humanity with the creator of the universe. And its this offer that can truly only bring about real lasting, eternal peace on earth, just as it is in heaven.