A Christmas Response to Newtown

December 4, 2012


Unspeakable horrors have been visited on a small town in Connecticut. Our hearts break for all concerned. We long that in the end healing would be found. Surprisingly, Christmas may be the place to begin to find answers.

With Christmas around the corner, the events of Newtown are not only horrific, they also seem hardly seasonal. But in some ways it brings into stark relief the need to recapture a full orbed vision for the meaning of Christmas. And in that there is hope for those in Newtown and all affected by that tragedy.

To begin with, the Christmas story has a devastating tragedy close to its center. Herod, duped by the Magi, angrily lashes out at the children in Bethlehem and kills them. You can find the story in Matthew 2:16-18. Matthew quotes from Jeremiah to dramatize the event as “Rachel weeping for her children.” This is not the story you normally hear on Christmas Eve, or during the “Advent Season.” Yet, there it is. Or you might also look at the word of Simeon to Mary in Luke 2:34-35. This Christ-child will cause the falling and rising of many “and a sword will pierce through your own soul also.”

One of the side effects of a dumbed down view of Christmas – Christmas as all tinkly lights and elves – is that we become less equipped to respond to an event like Newtown. It seems so distant from the sweet peace of Bethlehem that we are shocked by the contrast. Until we hear “Rachel weeping.”

Then we can begin to find hope, even for such situations as that. Christ was not born into a palace; neither was he born into a world without suffering, or pain, even for children. He was born into a world of darkness and evil. The message of Christmas in such dark times is not to minimalize the dark, but against the dark to let the light shine even brighter.

There are no adequate words to express the horror of Newtown. As Christians we are to weep with those who weep, mourn with those who mourn, not provide easy answers. But in Christmas – even CHRISTMAS! – there is a ready made profound answer. Not a gun. Not a criminal investigation. Not might, not sword, not power. But a baby. Come to die. That we might live.

Even for what made “Rachel weep.”


Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.


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