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Tears among Tinsel

Christmas is a happy time, a glad time, for the majority of us. Some, though, face the holiday without a loved one for the first time; indeed, many, many families will see the death of a loved one on Christmas Day itself. We do well to think of such as these with compassion this holiday.

The birth of Christ was attended by such sorrow and loss. Matthew 2:16-18 records the murder of children by Herod in his attempt to destroy the infant Jesus. Church tradition in the East holds 14,000 boys under the age of two were brutally murdered by the mad king. We call these the Holy Innocents, and they are occasionally held up as the first Christian martyrs, the first people to ever die for Jesus Christ. To me, one of the saddest verses in the Bible is Matt. 2:18, and it is difficult to read it without tears: "A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and refused to be comforted, because they are not."

"They are not" is a simple yet poignant phrase. The Holy Innocents were dead; they existed on earth no more. It's tempting (and perhaps natural) to think of our own beloved dead in this way; they simply are not. But nothing could be further from the truth. One day, I will meet the Holy Innocents. One day, we will all meet those we loved who died in Christ. Their immortal souls will exist eternally, and we will go to them. They are, just as we are. This is the hope offered by the Christ Child: an end to mourning, no more tears among the tinsel. Eternal life, paradise, heaven. A place we will always be.

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