All the ho ho ho-ing and season’s greetings, Christmas carols, crowded malls and grocery stores, packed restaurants and TV commercials promised happiness and warm fuzzy feelings, a Christmas of unsullied glee. Even the angel’s song, quoted in Luke, promised peace on earth. We had so much to look forward to as we decorated trees and hung wreaths, baked cookies and wrapped gifts. So what happened? Where is all the peace on earth?
Why do we still have a world in which two police officers are murdered as they sit in their squad car? What do we say to their children when they open the last gifts they will ever receive from their father?
What about the families of the school children slaughtered in Pakistan to make a political statement?
The ones beheaded by crazed Isis militants for refusing to deny Jesus, the one whose birth was meant to bring peace?
The ones who have lost a child or spouse to disease or accident?
The ones whose children died too young, live with grave disabilities, or never lived at all?
The one who doesn’t even have someone to grieve?
The one whose family has been desecrated by joblessness, abuse, unfaithfulness or addiction?
What do we do with all the broken pieces of our world, and our lives?
I can only see the manger as the portal to joy if I see the empty cross standing high above.
The child who began with a bed of straw became the man who ended with a crown of thorns.
It is a strange, seemingly twisted reality: He died to conquer the darkness.
He rose as king, opening the door for each of us to pass through the valley of the shadow of death into marvelous light.
My earthly heart still feels pain, and my earthly eyes still see darkness,
but my heart knows the wonder of the manger.
Beyond the stable, beyond the hills of Judea, and beyond that cross
is Life, reaching for you, for me,
to guide us through the portal.
The manger entrance to eternity.