Many years ago, an acquaintance told me that the hardest thing to do, the first time you remodel a house, is to pick up a hammer and start tearing out your first wall. This is hard, he said, because once you start ripping out the wall, you know that you’ve just committed yourself to a major undertaking and a lot of work. The house will never be the same again. Much the same can be said of the birth of Christ. Christmas marks the beginning of God’s remodeling of creation, and
Into this season of mangers, shepherds and angels comes the story of the slaughter of the innocents, the bloody horror of ancient time that now takes on a sickening relevance to our own—the Gospels’ darkest story that serves as an unwanted reality check in Matthew’s account of the Messiah’s birth and the gifts of the magi. A reminder of the ultimate purpose of the baby cradled in Luke’s barnyard manger and marveled at by awestruck shepherds who saw and heard heaven’s worship.
A shoot shall come out from the stock of Jesse,
and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him,
the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of counsel and might,
the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. (NRSV) Some winters seem as if they will never end. Even the memory of green foliage fades. There are seasons like that in our life with God. We get so distra