The NIGHT Before Christmas

America is still reeling from the shock of last Friday, December 14, 2012.  What makes the grief even harder to bear is the senseless loss of innocent lives that took place during the season of hope and love. We celebrate the birth of baby Jesus during this holiday season, and last week, children who were not much more than babies themselves, were slaughtered at the hands of someone who then turned the gun on himself. The name Newtown, and Sandy Hook Elementary will be etched in our memory of Christmas 2012 for many years.The shockwaves of the tragedy are still reverberating across the globe days after the names of the victims were released.  In the face of the sheer brutality of the crime, one question may never fully be answered, “Why?”

This kind of barbarity, is a reminder of the reality of the “darkness” of our world.  In a real sense, it is the night before Christmas – a dark night of cruel savagery and  inhumanity.  We cannot understand or explain this kind of darkness.  We stand speechless at the sight of such wantonness and malignity.  Like grasping for the light switch in a dark room, we wrestle with our loss, and search for answers that may not come.

In the dark night of our grief and rage, we need to hear God’s good news- the good news that God sent His Son into the darkness of our world. While this news cannot reverse what happened, or lessen the weight of our loss, it does speak to a hope for the future. This good news is exactly what we celebrate at Christmas.  Isaiah said, “The people who walk in darkness will see a great light.  Those who live in a dark land, the light will shine upon them.”  (Isa.9:2)  This good news is not a religion or a creed of beliefs.  It is not found in a church, a mosque or a temple.  It is found in a person – the One who is called the “Light of the World.”  More precisely, it is found in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  Only as we know the Prince of Peace can we discover lasting peace in our hearts and lives.  Only through a personal relationship with the “Great Physician,” can we discover healing for the sickness of the human heart and mind.

At Christmas, we celebrate that Jesus came into a world filled with darkness.  Yet, those who loved the darkness did not recognize or receive Him.  John explains, “The true light that gives light ot every man was coming into the world.  He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.  He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.  Yet to all who receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”  (John 1:3)

It is still the “night before Christmas,” because our world continues to reject the Light.  Using the imagery of light and darkness, John the Apostle said, “This is the verdict:  Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.  Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.  But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”  (John 3:19)

The truth is only the light can dispel the darkness completely.  Our only hope in the midst of this kind of darkness is the One who is the “light of the world,” Jesus the Messiah.

It could very well be the night before Christmas in your heart and life.  If the darkness seems to be overwhelming, let His light shine into your world.  Let His love, forgiveness, and hope transform your night into day.

Please keep the families and friends of the Newtown victims in your prayers.

For audio version:  click here

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About Larry Doyle

Dr. Larry S. Doyle is the Director of Missions of the Piedmont Baptist Association He has served as Director of Missions since September 1, 2003. His ministry began in the pastorate in Kentucky, his native state. He served as pastor of three churches while completing his undergraduate, graduate and post graduate degrees. He and his wife Becky, a native of Greensboro, served as IMB/SBC missionaries in Ecuador from 1980 to 1992. He then came to the Triad to pastor the Hispanic Baptist Church in Kernersville, NC from 1992 to 2000. He and his wife served as the On-site Coordinator for Disaster Relief in Honduras from January 2000 to January 2001. Dr. Doyle was the International Ministries Director for the Baptist Metrolina Ministries in Charlotte, NC from 2001 to 2003. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Western Kentucky University, and received a Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. Larry and Becky have two sons, Steve and Tim, and are the proud grandparents of three. They attend Calvary Baptist Church in McLeansville.
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