’s Mark Kurowski reflects on Palestine, the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Massacre and what that little baby in the manger has to do with all of it.  “What does a baby in swaddling cloths have to offer us?”  Listen to this podcast of his reflection for the Christmas. Please read Luke 2:1-20.

For, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for 12/25/2012 Christmas.

Please pause this audio and read Luke 2:1-20.
On the Shoulders of the Babe
    As the Television was the scene of the mourning of parents in the middle of burying their 1st grade children in Newtown, Connecticut, I opened up a Christmas card.  As we recalled the horrific events that caused a lone gunman to shoot down 20 beautiful children and 7 heroic adults, I was given pause by something written on the cover of this elegant card.  It read, “We Christians are not allowed to surrender to hopelessness”.  It was written by Elias Jabbour, a Palestinian Christian.  
    On the inside of the card it says,
In the face of undeniable suffering and injustice in the world; and prejudice, alienation and brokeness–Christmas is the reminder that God is with us.  Herein is our Hope.
    In the midst of the strife amidst the gun arguing United States of America, we will meet in the peaceful Church with lighting that causes us to pause and be at peace.  It is much like the manger where Jesus lay, those two thousand years ago today.  In the midst of Roman occupation, the Roman quest to take over the world and the harsh Justinian Code of Roman Law, we find a baby, peacefully lying in a manger.  Poor and insignificant as he seemed, he would soon grow and in a relatively short time, he changed the world.
    So, too, in Palestine, we have 1.5% of the population who are Christians.  They are Palestinians who are caught between the Israelis and the Muslims who are fighting it out over control of holy pieces of dirt.  In the midst of the gunfire and hatred, there are the Christians, advocates of peace and hope.  How is it that these Christians, largely forgotten by us, the largest self proclaimed “Christian nation” in the world, how can they have such hope?  They have hope because they believe that the child born in the manger two thousand years ago, was the same who was born to give redemption to everyone, the Jew first and then the Gentile.
     On the shoulders of that child was to be the call of hope and peace for generations.  It is the hope of people living in Palestine today.  It is the hope of all those who find themselves in the midst of distress.  He is able.  For Isaiah says, “And the government shall be upon his shoulders, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”  This little child leads us to seek peace whenever possible.  His mantle is Prince of Peace.
    As this child’s life goes on, we will see that when we are down or heavy laden, it is resting upon Christ that gives us peace.  I find that when I meditate on the holy name of Jesus I receive peace.  Sometimes the holiday season is tough on people who remember loved ones lost or family arguments.  It also brings late nights of putting together toys and last minute wrapping of gifts.  This doesn’t even take into account the preparation of meals for the Feast of the Nativity of our Lord, otherwise known as “Christmas Day.”  Going to Church together may be the only place any of us can get any peace tonight.
    When John F. Kennedy, Jr. passed away, I saw a parallel in him.  On that young man was more pressure than I think any of us could bear.  From the moment he saluted his father’s casket as it left the rotunda of the Capital Building, all the hopes and expectations of a family and a generation were laid upon his shoulders.  Ever since that expectation the mythologizing of his father’s “Camelot” only served to make the mounting expectations higher and higher.  JFK, Jr. did fulfill some of those expectations.  But he did so in a different way from his father.
    For the babe in the manger, there is the expectation of six thousand years from the time of Abraham to the time of Christ.  During that time, the people of Israel had been looking for a savior, one who would deliver them to prosperity.  Then, they receive this child, upon whose shoulders rest the hopes of the world.  
We, too, since the days of President Kennedy and all of the mystique that was around the presidency, have been looking for a political savior who would lead us to prosperity.  It was not LBJ, Nixon, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, nor Obama.  Each of these men had a weakness that caused us to lose faith in them.  But upon this child, Jesus, we can see the hopes of the world resting upon his shoulder as we wait in expectation of his return.
    Mary, like a proud mother, just treasured these things in her heart.
    I wonder what she thought when she saw that baby lying in the manger.  I wonder what she thought when she heard the shepherds say that he was the Savior of Israel.  I wonder what she pondered in her heart when she saw him (pause) hanging on the cross.  It certainly wasn’t the type of expectation that one would have for the Savior of the world.  But then again, what did she ponder in her heart when she heard of the empty tomb?
    Much like the presents which lie waiting beneath our trees on Christmas Eve, two parents stood in a manger overlooking a little babe in swaddling cloths.  They were filled with expectation that upon the shoulders of this child great things would happen.  On Christmas Eve Night, we are the fruit of those great things.  We are the product of that expectation.  We reflect and say, that this child born is no ordinary child.  This child comes with binding authority upon our lives.  He commands us that in the midst of any adversity, we should have hope and peace in him.
    So, rejoice, my friend, and believe that your Savior was born this day so long ago.  He came to bring forgiveness of your sins so that you could have eternal life.  He came so that his people would bring peace where there is strife.  Upon the shoulder of this Babe is our salvation.  Come, let us rejoice and be glad.  Amen?  Amen.
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