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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Funeral At Christmas Time

I write this Blog from Minnesota. Usually I'm in Texas, but a couple days ago I flew to the Twin Cities to attend the funeral of one of my favorite cousins, the son of my mother's twin sister. Melvyn finally was called to join the angels before God's throne last week Saturday. We will celebrate his entering Glory tomorrow.

It seems strange to attend a funeral at Christmas time. This is supposed to be the time of the year when we attend concerts, children's Christmas programs, parties with friends and family, and, of course, special Christmas worship services. Funerals somehow do not fit into this scenario. That is until you read the Scriptures upon which this season is based.

I refer to what is recorded in the Gospel of Matthew 2:1-18. This is the story of the visit by the Magi or Wisemen who came to find the Child in Bethlehem nearly two years later. They started with King Herod in Jerusalem, as you may remember. Herod asked them to report back when they had found the Child, pretending that he too wanted to see and worship the Babe of Bethlehem. When the Magi did not return he realized that he had been tricked. So Herod, being the kind of greedy, self-centered man he was, ordered his soldiers to murder any child in Bethlehem two years old and younger.

Many were the funerals in that little town after that. Matthew writes that this was long before predicted by the prophet Jeremiah (Jer.31:15) when he wrote, "A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more."

So in the midst of all the merriment and gift giving I am reminded of this sad event and of the reality of death and suffering even by children in this sin-sick world of ours. I am reminded of why Jesus was born--to bear our griefs and die. And I am reminded of why we can join the angel hosts to sing praises of glory and alleluia, for without the coming of the Child we are without hope.

Sleep then, dear cousin. Sleep in peace. And soon the bright day of God's new creation will break upon us all.