The Other Side of Christmas

Gatlinburg, TN is one of the most beautiful places in the country. It is a popular destination for vacations, weddings, honeymoons, and hiking. My family, like many others, have enjoyed the hospitality and scenery of the Great Smoky Mountains.
This area, sadly, has become consumed with far too much fire and smoke these last several days. The images of people losing their homes and livelihood are painful, and knowing this is the holiday season makes the situation even more difficult. Perhaps the most horrible aspect of this tragedy is finding out that someone started this on purpose.
This Sunday, I’ll be dealing with a seldom used passage related to the “Slaughtering of the Innocents.” It’s about Herod, a powerful and paranoid King, ordering the execution of all the baby boys two years old and younger. In his rage, he thought that at least one of them could be the messiah the Magi went to see.
While it’s been called “the most wonderful time of the year,” Christmas can also generate a variety of emotions. There are those who struggle with stress and sadness, relating to death, loss, and grief. It’s important to note this as we relate to each other.
Jesus came into a world filled with pain, violence, and despair. It was a time of political unrest. And, his own arrival caused great collateral damage in the form of death and grief from families who fell victim to Herod’s rage.
It’s easy to get caught up in our own issues, and fail to realize our connection with the rest of the world.
One of the events I look forward to each Advent season is the Parade of Flags. It signifies the beginning of Global Missions month at our church. The flags represent people of all races, nationalities, and customs. This activity serves as a great reminder that we are a small part of the human tapestry.
The best known verse illustrates God’s attitude toward us: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, that whosoever believes in Him would not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3.16). This verse, along with the Great Commission and Great Commandments, serve as the foundation for our missions endeavors.
Our Global Missions Offering will be divided between CBF and ABC missions causes. I hope you will join me in being part of giving to this Kingdom cause.
Sunday’s coming! Shane and Diane McNary will be our special guests in morning worship. They will speak to us about their work at the Missions banquet at 4 pm. Several of you have had a part in getting ready for this, and others will take part in the program. Thank you in advance for all your good work.
Finally, I wanted to thank Bob Perry for handling the preaching duties last Sunday. It means a great deal to call upon him and others so I can visit with family around the holidays. It’s good to be back in the Ozarks, and I look forward to seeing you all Sunday!
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