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What Would People Think?

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas! (From Ben the Christian)

The following is an e-mail I sent out last year to the Christian Legal Society at Duke. It expresses my musings on Christmas Eve, 2004. Now I'll post them for the blogosphere:

"His mercy extends to those who fear him,

from generation to generation.

He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;

he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.

He has brought down rulers from their thrones

but has lifted up the humble.

He has filled the hungry with good things

but has sent the rich away empty."

- Luke 1:50-53

Dear friends,

As I look back over the annals of history, I find a dark tale. Mankind fell from God's ideal with stunning speed and has seemingly sunk deeper and deeper in sin ever since. From Herod to Hitler, from Nero to Saddam people seem to be competing to see who can commit the worst atrocities against each other. The powerful almost always wield their power with arrogance and self-interest. And Christmas becomes "Xmas" - a collective worship of that particularly potent idol called materialism.

But then I look at the event we are celebrating this season: the birth of Jesus. In the world's eyes, this event could not have been more inconsequential. Here we had a weak baby...born to a poor family (outcasts to many since the child was apparently conceived out of wedlock)...sleeping in a donkey's food trough...in a remote, insignificant corner of the world (the Roman philosopher Celsus once scoffed at the idea that the God would come into the world "in some corner of Judea somewhere").

But in this private, seemingly insignificant event, the God of the universe reached into history and turned the world on its head. All of the world's measures of significance and success are shown to be nothing because of this one event - God taking the most humble form possible to minister to outcasts, and then die and be resurrected, rescuing us from sin and injustice....from the prisons of our own creation.

From a rational, worldly, power-centered mindset none of this makes any sense. But God confounded this world and its values . . . and now we celebrate this "insignificant" birth as the most important event in history. It never ceases to amaze me.

Looking at history with an eye to eternity, I am filled with awe, joy....and hope!

Merry Christmas!


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