It looks like the Mayan were off a bit on their prediction, unless it could be mentioned that my oldest daughter turns 15 today, and that might translate a bit into an end of the world scenario.

Both of my daughters have birthdays this month. Cally does in fact turn 15 and as a freshman at Glendale she’s doing alright. I’m very proud of her work thus far and her performance as Mary during the Vespers service last Wednesday night turned out well too. Pretty soon we’ll be talking about a driver’s permit and all that goes with that.

Our middle child, Lucy, will be making her debut in double digits by turning 10 on the 29th of this month. She is doing well in fourth grade and turning into quite the film maker, using her Littlest Pet Shop performers to produce her movies. She had a good season with the Southwest MO Children’s Choir too, and is blessed with friends at school and church.

Matthew is 8 years old and is working hard in 2nd grade when he isn’t trying to gain access to the laptop computer to plan video games. Lori is still feeding him pancakes and French fries and we are thankful that he has been a healthy boy this year. I am grateful for the progress he is making with school and appreciate so much concerned teachers who help him both at school and here at church.

It seems everyone is thinking of Newtown, CT and rightfully so. I don’t expect our Christmas to quite the same, knowing that there are so many people who are hurting in that community. It is hard to imagine what it’s like to have all those funeral services right before Christmas, and that there is only the one funeral home. Grief upon grief. I won’t go into the “where was God when this happened?” dialogue, which is usually revisited every time there is a tragedy of this magnitude. It is worth noting, but I will say emphatically that I do not believe that “this was God’s will.” I hesitate using such a sweeping explanation that portrays God in such a vindictive manner. The truth is that we don’t always find an adequate reasoning for such events, but we can do our best on the other side of them to love and  help one another, and do our best to keep our children as safe as we can.

The Newtown tragedy brought to mind a passage of Scripture that isn’t often used this time of year. It refers to King Herod’s paranoia and reaction to the Magi’s leaving baby Jesus without reporting back to him of the newborn’s location. Herod said he wanted to worship the Christ, but of course his intentions were more sinister. “When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi” (Matthew 2:16). It is difficult coming to grips with the harsh truth that someone wanted to kill the baby Jesus, and then in a fit of rage killed other baby boys instead. The great weeping and mourning that took place reminded the people of the sadness they endured at being evicted from their homeland during the Babylonian exile. This time it described the deaths of baby boys; scholars estimate the number to be between 15-20 infants.

I can’t imagine the depths of sorrow that parents go through during such a terrible loss, especially when the actions are brought about by evil intentions. Nothing people can say can help, and no, God didn’t need more angels in heaven and this isn’t why these Newtown children aren’t here to open their presents this year. I think it’s better in these situations to do more listening and embrace people rather than offer platitudes which offer no real solutions. We need to show our love and support for these families, and our own families, realizing that evil and violence are real in our world, and that it was into this kind of world that Jesus was born.

Let’s approach this Christmas in a more reflective manner, and not get so upset if don’t necessarily get everything we want on the 25th. There are a lot of other people who aren’t getting what they want either. We should be thankful for what we have, embrace those around us with greater appreciation for their place in our lives, and know that each family member, friend, and day we have to live is a gift.