The good thing about my loving both the secular and religious aspects of Christmas is that I do not waste any time ranting and raving about the commercialization of Christmas.
Black Friday started Thursday for a lot of stores. On Black Friday, I got a jump on Cyber Monday and ordered some presents so I wouldn't have to wait for the websites to load. I was happy to hear Christmas music on KAMB on Black Friday. It is never too early to start listening to Christmas music.
On Thanksgiving weekend, I put up our lawn decorations, but we waited until the first weekend of December to buy our pine tree and decorate the inside of the house.
The second week in December a clerk asked me if I was ready for Christmas. "I was born ready for Christmas," I said. When asked for an explanation, I tried to quote the message the angels brought to the shepherds on that night to change all time: "For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a savior who is Christ the Lord." The lady laughed and said, "I guess we were all born ready for Christmas."
I just got another perspective on the events that we celebrate this month.
The Magi came from the east, probably Persia/Iran, following the sign in the star. They stopped in Jerusalem to ask where the newborn King of the Jews was. Herod called them in for a private audience and, under the guise of paying honor, requested information about the newborn. He asked that they travel home through Jerusalem and inform him of the residence of royalty so he could offer obescience.
After the wise men worshiped Jesus and presented him with the gifts they brought, they returned home via another route because of a warning in a dream.
In response to a warning from an angel, Joseph took his wife and stepson to Egypt because Herod was soon to go on a rampage to destroy children under the age of 2 years. Matthew 2:18 recorded Jeremiah's prophecy: "In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not." (KJV)
Yes, right after the advent of the one called the Prince of Peace, who came to establish his kingdom in the hearts of men, there was a massacre of infants and toddlers in the area of his birth.
Evil will leave death and destruction in its path. When the question is presented, "Why does evil wreak such havoc in people's lives?" my pat answer is always, "I don't know." I wish that didn't have to be my honest answer.
I do know that when I celebrate the birth of Emmanuel God with us I will be extremely grateful I have my family with me.
In the midst of whatever turmoil you find yourself in, may you have a merry Christmas.
Belarmino, a retired Turlock resident, is a chaplain with the Assemblies of God Disaster Response Task Force. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.