Christmas Stories: A Dark Story
Even in the suffering surrounding Jesus' birth, Christ gave hope.
(Read Matthew 2:13-18)
The gun fired and people died. It all happened during what Andy Williams and a hundred other singers call "The most wonderful time of the year."
Dateline: December 24, 2009 in North Little Rock, Arkansas. A Salvation Army worker, Major Philip Wise, 40, was gunned down at the door of the charity's building. The gunman's motive was robbery. Wise was murdered in front of his three children who had been adopted earlier that year in the Wise's effort to rescue the children from an abusive family.
Dateline: December 14, 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut. Adam Lanza, 20, fatally shot 20 children and 6 adults in a mass murder at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Prior to leaving for the school, Lanza shot and killed his mother at their Newtown home. Upon the arrival of first responders at the school, Lanza shot himself in the head and died at the scene.
Murder and Christmas: It's occurred since ancient times. Matthew tells the story of the first time it happened. Here is the story. There were wise men from the East—also known as magi. They were astrologers of a sort who had noticed a new star in the sky. The men were a mixture of philosopher, scientist, and sage. They were to Persia what the Levites were to Israel—they were priests. Their work involved teaching and instructing the kings of Persia. Such a role required the men to study world events and ancient traditions.
Throughout much of the world in their day there was a heightened expectation that the world was on the verge of welcoming a redeemer—a king that would rule wisely and usher in an era of peace. Roman historians like Tacitus and Suetonius wrote in their histories about that expectation. Suetonius even declared that the general ...
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John McCallum is Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church, Hot Springs, Arkansas, where he has served for 22 years.