Sunday, December 16, 2012

Jesus' First Coming, and We're Here Because of Love

At church this morning, the pastor's sermon was about the recent tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut.  The pastor said that Christmas from now on may be an especially hard time for the families of the children and faculty members who were shot at the elementary school, for this tragedy occurred shortly before Christmas.  The pastor referred to the story in Matthew 2, which states in v 16 (in the KJV) that Herod "slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men."  Tragedy occurred in association with the birth of Christ, my pastor said.  The pastor then told us that Jesus' coming did not eliminate evil or human sinfulness.

Then what did Jesus come to do?  What I got out of my pastor's sermon is that Jesus came to defeat death, to atone for our sins, and to model God's desire for the cosmos through his healing of the sick.  That makes a degree of sense to me.  Why we should have to wait a long time for Christ to return and clean up the world of sin, however, I do not know.  I thought that Christ was beginning the process of binding Satan at his first coming (Mark 3:27).  Has that process been interrupted, only to resume after Christ comes back?
That said, I'm praying for the families of the victims of this massacre.  I know that I'd feel horrible if someone in my own family were killed. 

Something else that stood out to me in this morning's service was what someone said during the prayer part.  The pastor was asking for prayer requests, and a young man who has recently started coming to our church talked about hard times, then he remarked that he is here because of love.  I don't know what exactly he meant by that, or what personal experiences lie behind his statement.  But it is a profound statement: We're here because of love.  Many of us can testify that we are here on account of the people who loved us.  The children who survived the shooting survived because teachers heroically protected them from the shooter.  Was the shooter himself loved?  I can't entirely say because I don't know.  From what I have read, his Mom went to bat for him when he was a student in elementary school because she wanted for the school to meet his special needs, which indicates love on her part.  But he was a loner, who felt uncomfortable socially.  From what people have said, his family had the resources for him to receive mental health treatment, but I doubt that he found a safe place where he felt comfortable sharing.  I wish that he had.

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