Three Pitiful States to Be Post-Christmas

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“Tis the season!”
scream Google and the malls in unison.

Christmas is around the corner. A lot of us are busy finishing year-end work projects, buying presents, bombarding colleagues with “Secret Santa” gifts, decorating and re-decorating Christmas trees, taking Christmas celebrations to old age homes and orphanages, watching blockbuster movies, attending midnight masses, or just taking to Facebook to say “Merry Christmas”.

Meanwhile, if you’ve been following the news, the world around us faces some level of Christmas-related drama. In Brunei, you could be punished for celebrating Christmas illegally. Is that just one Muslim ruler’s whim and fancy? Not really. Somalia has thought it best to ban public Christmas celebrations too. Countries like Tajikistan have happily banned Christmas trees, gift-giving and Father Frost (their Santa Claus – cool name huh!). This is sad, but I am mildly amused that these governments are expending energy and time banning paraphernalia.

If you’re thinking, “weird tyrants!”, try the US!

Certain states in the US will go miles to show you the inappropriateness of using the greeting “Merry Christmas”, which has been replaced with “Happy Holidays”  in order to not offend people of other faiths. A sparkling example of “tolerance”, I must say!

In about 10 days from now, a lot of us Christmas revelers will be left with a sense of deflation and all too familiar feelings of –

Oh-it-got-over-so-soon?

and

What-was-all-the-fuss-about?”.

Story, God, Jesus Christ, Christmas, Christmas tree, Santa Claus, Christmas ban, India, tradition, trivia, Christmas resources, TGC, Indian Christianity, Nativity, virgin birth

But right now, a lot of us are trying to celebrate all that we can, hoping the fanfare, the carols, the colours and the sounds will bring us a joy that will last long enough. But no; not even Christmas celebrations can satisfy the human heart. Continue reading “Three Pitiful States to Be Post-Christmas”

How Every Movie Ever Made Is Connected to Christmas

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Story, God, Jesus, Christmas, Story of God, Matrix, Tron, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, JK Rowling, Dumbledore, movies, screenplay, screenwriting, Author, Syd Field, movie theme

My sister and I were almost certain that Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry was real. We wished, even longed for Platform 9 and 3/4 to exist, for that solid wall to let us in to reveal a railway station that led to a world hidden to our muggle eyes and mysterious still.

As a teenager, I did not realize how engaging books in the Harry Potter series were. For the first time, I realized the depth and “realness” the author J K Rowling gave to Continue reading “How Every Movie Ever Made Is Connected to Christmas”

Suffering & The Divine Suicide Mission

“You say your God died for you? Then WHY does not He stop evil & suffering?”

That question. Some of us hate hearing it. Others, live with it.

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Suffering often comes upon us by surprise. When the soul cannot find justice, it will pour out questions- questions that are very tough to answer when they come mixed with personal grief and burning vengeance. This is not an attempt to answer the question, but a deeper look at the question itself.

Did you notice this question above shows an assumption beneath it?
AssumptionGod is duty-bound to address evil & suffering.

Looking at the Bible, we see 2 truths that address this assumption. The first is that God is obliged to no one, to do nothing (Rom. 9:15). He is someone who is so pure, wickedness evaporates in His presence. He is truly the Master of the vast universe and has power we have no clue of. Like it was said of Aslan – “Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

Meanwhile our world paints a picture that shouts – the universe, this world, the things around me, all of this will help me become better. “I will be Happier.” We all buy into this philosophy. Because you and I think everything exists to serve us, we forget that everything actually exists to make this God more amazing & worthy of adoration. Even evil has this purpose. (Rom. 9:17).

So – In the big story, the Lord God is able to make any form of evil, any wickedness out there or in our own hearts, to serve Him.

The second truth? This God has already addressed evil in an impartial yet amazingly, compassionate manner.
He is the very reason we have virtues called justice & love. He will punish all wrong-doing. Easy to hear, but that will wipe you & me out too. We deserve eternal punishment for violating His pure ways. But unlike men, He offered himself to be punished instead of us imperfect sinners -the Ultimate Suicide Mission. You and I do not know what it was for Christ to bear His Father’s wrath for our wrongs.

So when I see suffering in the world & ask “where are you, God?”… he is right there at that Cross, dying for my wrong-doings.

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May this Christmas be a good reminder- I know of no one else who was “born in a manger”, to suffer something that awaits those who reject Him- a wrath that only shows God loves what is right. While we are here, we will suffer. But we have a fighting chance to overcome suffering & evil just because of this Jesus, who is the answer to suffering (John 9:1-3) as long as there is Christmas.

Next time when suffering comes at you like a Tsunami wave, will you look to Him who loved us so much?

Terrorism and the Christmas Child

“The biggest human tragedy Pakistan may have ever seen. No words can suffice. Even as a mother it haunts me to even try to relate. Allah Rehm” – Maryam Nawaz Sharif
 

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Such expressions of grief & gunned-down dreams covered large portions of news. A tragedy that has left deep scars across the face of a nation, the massacre of 132 school children in Peshawar by a terror group has created waves of outrage and shock. To pay respect to what the dear ones of those victims are going through, I won’t even try to assume that I can feel their dark grief and fury. We as a church, Marg, are truly sorry and saddened, and are praying to Jesus for you in Pakistan.

People who heard this news responded in different ways. I steeled my heart up to not get depressed because I didn’t want the unbelievable shock to hit me- which it did eventually. Others in my church family had real, tough, questions –

What if this was MY child in a coffin?

How can God let a tragedy of this scale happen?

These powerful questions of grief & justice I will pass by,  for now is not the time.

Meanwhile, how does all this affect your Christmas?

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Pause your happiness-coated, Santa-overdosed excuse of Christmas. Just as the original Christmas had tragedy in very real circumstances, let’s wrap this tragedy around Christmas’ message.

We are in for a subdued season with such terror attacks. It might surprise some that a terrifying act of murder of children is part of the first Christmas story.
Jesus’ parents on earth narrowly escaped the fate of Peshawar’s mourning parents when they escaped (Matt 2:13-14) from King Herod, a man vicious enough to kill his own family members. Herod was fearful-insecure- at the birth of a King worthy of worship (Matt 2:2) and orders the killing of every child, 2 years and younger, in that area.
It is right to expect justice and vengeance executed upon the perpetrators of evil whether in Bethlehem then or in Pakistan today. But let’s not forget that the Christmas child came to destroy the works of the devil(1 John 3:8). It is for that reason that as Marg we will rejoice this Christmas. If there is any real hope in this bleak season, it is in Him who rescues us from the same self-absorbed attitude & heart these terrorists have.

How would you make Christmas more meaningful in the light of the immense suffering that has happened in Pakistan?

Are there ways you could make Christmas a true gift to these hurting people?