Christmas has always had a dark side. Last year, I caught the opening moments of Christmas in Rockefeller Center, aired live from New York City, only a couple hours after the murderous San Bernardino rampage. Al Roker was caught between acknowledging the horror and sorrow and preparing viewers for the happy holiday entertainment.
It was jarring. But it's not the first time!
The story of Jesus' birth is so wonderful and such a relief: A light has dawned. The morning star has come. Glory to God in the highest. "All is well." But pan back from that glorious scene and there is more than meets the eye.
The Christmas story is as fierce as an invasion. Bethlehem was a beachhead. The great conflict had been brooding and building since the Serpent lured Adam and Eve to sin and death. In that darkest hour, God vowed to the arrogant, lying, deadly serpent in Genesis 3:15: "I will put enmity [hatred] / between you and the woman, / and between your offspring and hers; / he will crush your head, / and you will strike his heel." It is the Bible's oldest prophecy.
Eight days after Jesus' birth—after the angels were gone away and the shepherds were back with their flocks—Mary and Joseph took the little Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem. They were met there by Simeon, an old man who'd waited all his life for the Messiah, and who knew this child was he. First, he praised God.
(Read Luke 2:30-35)
Foreboding! Like I said, Christmas has always had a dark side. It is a war story in camouflage.
Even as Simeon spoke, the Magi were traveling from far off in the east, alerted to the birth of the Jews' king by a star. I read an interview with biblical scholar Colin R. Nicholl about his book ...
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