There are some beautiful nativity scenes out there. We have several in our home, and the guy down the street has this awesome life size manger scene lit up in his yard every year. It is pretty easy to call to mind the image of the parents gathered around the Baby in the feedbox. But what happened next?
When I think of the days after my own babies were born, they are pretty special. The crowd goes home, we get to know each other and we settle in to a new life. We practice the first of septi-ga-frillion nursing and diaper sessions, we learn what the different cries mean and we come to intimately know this teeny person.
In the days after Jesus was born (from day one to several years), there was a king with an army at his disposal looking to destroy Him. Angels sang from heaven and shepherds worshiped. Wise men traveled miles and brought gifts fit for a king. But there was another response to the news of a newborn King. Murder. Horror reigned when the king’s men violated countless families to eliminate the threat a Child posed to jealous Herod’s throne.
A day of great joy is followed by untold terror and loss. As long as we live in this world, this seems to be the pattern. Bad things happen. Really, really bad things. Good things happen, too, but sometimes it looks like the bad is winning. Evil seems to come on in indefatigable waves. How can we stand against it?
The holidays hold a lot of pressure to make everything ‘good.’ We are supposed to be jolly. Families get together. We have goodwill and peace to all men jingling in our heads. Be happy, happy, happy! Unfortunately, the calendar wasn’t consulted by the cancer that invades, the cars that crash or the relationships that unravel. Sickness and strife come. It stinks any time of year, but we feel a special failing when it attacks during a holiday. How do we stand against it?
We go back to that small Baby, Who grew into a strong and gentle Man. He overcame all the evil with undying and inexhaustible Good. It may be hard to remember when another wave crashes over us, deafening and disorienting. It certainly goes against our instincts that scream to us to scramble up for air, but try instead to reach down. Down to the Rock. Reach for the unshakable. Press your body to it and don’t let go.
The story has already been written. We know the outcome. A lot of bad will continue to happen. But God wins. Good wins. Love wins. Healing and reconciliation and wholeness go on without end. Hold on!