Yesterday the story of Christmas was enacted by our junior church ministry. Sixty-five children clamored onto the platform, more than forty of them dressed in matching t-shirts. Tiered smallest to tallest on risers, the chorus stood left of the main podium area. The rest, cast members costumed according to their character, occupied center stage.
From my seat in the darkened balcony, I could see the first four rows of pews lit up with camera phones aimed at the stage by what the pastor called the “mamarazzi”, mothers anxious to capture photos of their precious child in action.
As I watched the youngest children, kindergartners through second grade, on the bottom row of the risers, tears filled my eyes. I wondered, in light of the recent violence in the news, if there were Christmas pageants elsewhere that morning missing a shepherd or an angel. As I counted the fifteen children across the bottom rise, I thought of the void in this program if they were suddenly not here.
One little girl, dressed in angel attire, and who sang with the voice of one, joined her fellow angels in their annunciation to the shepherds. When the expected response of shock and awe resounded from the chorus, the little angel asked, “What part of fear not, do you not understand?”
That’s when God spoke to me. Though the world has been shattered by news of the Connecticut tragedy, God has not changed. When the lives of those precious little kids were yanked from them by a senseless killer, God stood ready to receive them. The horror did not take Him by surprise. He knows what sinful men can do.
I could picture Jesus weeping, his arms wrapped around each child who entered heaven’s door that day. And though we are left behind, our lives broken, and our Christmas celebration tarnished, those children will spend the holiday in the presence of the One who authored it. What a Christmas that will be.
And so I echo what the little angel asked. What part of “Fear Not” do we not understand?
John 14:27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you: not as the world gives, give I to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.