As we approach one of the most joyous celebrations of the year, Christmas, our nation mourns the loss of the beautiful little children of Newport, Conn. As grievous as this horrific loss of life is, this only brings more into focus what really is important in life, and the real significance of Christmas. Christmas is about family, it’s about love; it’s about joy and peace — all wonderful gifts given to us from the Heavenly Father above. He not only bestows these wonderful gifts upon us, but he has given us the greatest gift of all, and that is salvation through his Son Jesus, Messiah and Redeemer of Israel and of the world. He is the very center and the reason what this season and life is all about. Even in the midst of tragedy and the heartbreak, hurt and anger, we can look to him, call upon his name and he will be our deliverer, our healer, our peace and our rock.
Evil has unfolded on the earth from the beginning of time, when sin entered the world. It has reared its ugly head throughout history — to name a few — beginning with the slaughtering of children in Moses’ time, to the slaughtering of children again during Herod’s wicked pursuit to find and destroy the promised Messiah Jesus, to the slaughtering of millions during the Holocaust, and in our own country last week, the murders of the elementary children. Yet, because of Jesus, we can and do have hope. He is the Light in the midst of darkness; Jesus is the calm in the storm; He is peace that surpasses all understanding. God the Father is closer than we think. He desires to have an intimate relationship with each of us through his Son, which is what the Christmas is all about. He came to this earth for us and for that purpose, gave up his life so that we can live in eternity with him, a promise for all who choose to follow and live for him.
Let’s appreciate and give thanks for the gift of life and the gift of our loved ones and less concerned with the sea of materialism that can come about during this holiday season. Let’s help those in need, share a smile, give some love, and pray for those unimaginably heartbroken parents and families of the recent tragedy on the east coast. Remember, no matter where you find yourself in life, no matter what your circumstance, Jesus is right there to receive you and to care for you! He loves you deeply!
n The Rev. Gilbert Ybarra is pastor of The River of Life Christian Fellowship. Sermon notes is a column by local religious leaders.