I was in New York City when it happened, some thirty-five miles from an event so horrific we can hardly imagine it, much less describe it. "Words strain, crack, and sometimes break, under the burden, under the tension, slip, slide, perish, decay with imprecision," wrote T. S. Eliot. Horror, tragedy, murder-all slip-sliding words for what happened in Newtown, Connecticut. Such words do not work because we also use them in other less serious senses. We speak of horror films, tragic dramas, and murder on the Orient Express. Something deeper, darker is going on here.
Who, what, when, where, were quickly answered. But the why question lingers, festers. Not only why Adam Lanza, a young man barely out of his teens, could have done what he did-was it the broken family, violent video games, too easy access to weapons of war? But also the deeper "why?" Why we live in a world where things like this happen, why God didn't step in and stop the bullets, and why human beings continue to ask why, and why Jesus asked why in the darkest moment of his life on the cross: "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?" (Matt. 27:46).
On Sunday I went to Central Presbyterian Church where my Beeson colleague, Doug Webster, led the service. He asked the children of the congregation to come forward for a special time of prayer with him. He asked whether they had noticed any extra hugs and kisses from their parents of late. He told them that because it was the Christmas season, and because of what was happening in the world, they could expect to be held extra tight over the next few days. He told them how precious they were, how very much they mattered to their moms and dads and to God. He was talking to the kids, but he was speaking to all of us who long to be embraced in Jesus's arms, those strong and everlasting arms. more >>
Best-selling author and pastor Kerry Shook said that while the nation still grapples with the emotional aftermath of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., now is the time for parents to grow deeper in their relationship with their children.
However, parents should also be wary of becoming over-protective during this time, said the pastor of Woodlands Church in Texas in an interview with The Christian Post.
In his recently released book One Month to Love: Thirty Days to Grow and Deepen your Closest Relationships, Shook and his wife, Chris, write about key relationships in people's lives, including with their children. more >>
In American society, the celebration of Christmas includes more than displays, carols, and services dedicated to remembering the birth of Jesus Christ.
For millions of homes, stories like those of Santa Claus are prevalent. While some question the focus on the jolly bearded red-suited figure during the Christmas season, many businessmen involved in Christmas-themed enterprises feel there is no conflict between the Santa Claus story and the Nativity story.
Carla Bronner Spletzer is vice president of Bronner's CHRISTmas Wonderland, a Frankenmuth, Mich.-based business that boasts of being "The World Largest Christmas Store." more >>
Did you know that-
The United States has 78 people registered under the name S. Claus - and one under Kris Kringle? December is the most popular month for nose jobs? The average wage of a mall Santa: $11 an hour? With real beard: $20? The weight of Santa's sleigh loaded with one small stuffed animal for every kid on earth: 333,333 tons? The number of reindeer required to pull a 333,333-ton sleigh: 214,206? (Plus Rudolph of course!) To deliver all his gifts in one night, Santa would simply need to make 822.6 visits per second? Which means his 333,333 ton sleigh would need to travel at a mere 2,000,000 miles per hour.
(Source: "Santa Stats," humormatters.com) more >>
Residents and workers in the city of Costa Mesa in Orange County, Calif., may be experiencing a brighter Christmas season this year thanks to a local church that decided to shower its community with gifts of love and service for 25 days.
This past week, 25 school principals and vice principals in the local school district were given tickets to attend concerts, sporting events, and gift certificates for such services as massages and spa treatments. Last week, among the "25 Days of Christmas" giving opportunities for volunteers at The Crossing Church, mail carriers and trash truck drivers were given baskets of cookies.
At sober living homes in the area this week, gift baskets were delivered along with invitations to have Christmas dinner with church members. On another day, drivers in the city were randomly given $25 gas cards. more >>
The makers of the popular Bible app YouVersion, who have logged 72 million downloads onto smartphones and tablets, are tracking downloads of their Christmas Story reading plan in somewhat similar fashion to the way the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) does with Santa Claus every year.
Every Christmas season NORAD "helps ordinary citizens track Santa's progress as he delivers gifts to good little boys and girls around the world.
"Now, for the first time, you'll also be able to track the beloved story that gave birth to the season," stated YouVersion this week. more >>