Growing up, I had a collie named Penny. She was a rescue. A friend of Dad’s found her in a ditch and we adopted her. I loved that dog. She was a sweet, kind, loving and nurturing dog. Penny, like so many other dogs, always knew when I needed her.
Behind our house in rural Hanover County, was a path that lead to the creek and would wind around to my grandparents’ property. Penny would accompany me on my treks though the woods. She would always walk next me, but most of the time she would run ahead of me. Then, she would wait for me to catch up before running ahead again.
“Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:8, ESV)
I can still remember being a kid sitting in a wooden chair in Sunday school putting together a papercraft with the words, “God is Love” pasted across the bottom. In the midst of the broken crayons and chunks of dried glue, that simple phrase settled in my heart and mind.
When I got older, I would attend the church’s confirmation and youth group. It was through these experiences that I began to learn how much more complex the reality of one living and true God is.
“I believe,” the opening statement of the Apostles’ Creed says, “in God, the Father, the Almighty, creator of heaven and earth.”
“I am the Lord, and I do not change; and you, children of Jacob, have not perished.” (Malachi 3:6, Common English Bible)
From Dietrich Bonhoeffer‘s “The Coming of Jesus in Our Midst”:
We have become so accustomed to the idea of divine love and of God’s coming at Christmas that we no longer feel the shiver of fear that God’s coming should arouse in us. We are indifferent to the message, taking only the pleasant and agreeable out of it and forgetting the serious aspect, that the God of the world draws near to the people of our little earth and lays claim to us.
God does not change.
“The angel said, ‘Don’t be afraid! Look! I bring good news to you – wonderful, joyous news for all people. Your savior is born today in David’s city. He is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11, Common English Bible)
The waiting is over. The Child has been born. And we rejoice. A silent night has become a holy night. All is calm as all becomes bright with hope.
As we peek over the side of the cradle, and look at the Peace Child, we feel peace. God’s great kingdom begins with this child. And this child will have authority over that kingdom. For it is as Isaiah wrote, “Authority rests upon his shoulders.” (Isaiah 9:6)
“The wolf will live with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the young goat; the calf and the young lion will feed together, and a little child will lead them.” (Isaiah 11:6, Common English Bible)
We can all remember where we were when we heard about the terrorist attacks on 9/11. For me, I was walking across campus at Randolph-Macon College. I had an early class that morning and was headed to the library. As I walked, I overheard other students talking about the attack.
I couldn’t believe it. And truthfully there was a part of me that didn’t believe it. I by-passed the library and went to my car. I turned the radio on and listened with a heavy heart to the news reports of airplanes flying into the World Trade Center buildings.