I am writing this less than a week after the horrendous events in Paris on the evening of Friday 13th November. As we try to get our heads round the enormity of the evil and the brutal contempt for human life demonstrated in the multiple cold bloodied murders perpetrated that night by a merciless gang of criminal assassins the name of whose twisted organisation I shall not dignify by naming in this magazine, it is hard to rally any kind of Christmas cheer.
Some politicians have called for a political settlement and in an ideal world this would be, without doubt, the best solution. However political solutions are only possible where both sides respect the sanctity of human life and are prepared to sit round a table and negotiate. There can be no negotiation with such beings as carried out the atrocities in Paris and countless other horrors in Iraq and Syria, so sadly increased vigilance together with appropriate military action seem the only realistic ways of defending innocent citizens against such a murderous foe.
As I have said, this is not an ideal world – but it is the same world into which Jesus was born in a stable in Bethlehem. Coming into the world as a babe at a time when another brutal thug, King Herod, who too had contempt for human life to the extent that he even ordered the slaughter of innocent children with no compunction, held sway. Yet Jesus came to such a world to bring a message of peace and goodwill which despite mankind’s self-destructive tendencies is still the only message that can bring hope.
Even in the wake of recent horrors we must not forget the amazing truth that God in Christ came into this world to save it and that salvation is still open and free – evil and hatred nailed the adult Jesus to a cross and his murderers thought his message was dead and buried with him. But Jesus rose triumphant and his message of love and goodness will never end.
What was demonstrated in the aftermath of the Paris atrocities as the people of that fine city sought the comfort of Notre Dame and other places of worship is that the God breathed human spirit cannot be overcome by evil. Goodness and love will triumph in the end – that is certain. Jesus rising victorious over death is the confirmation of this certainty. That is why we cannot fully appreciate the Christmas hope without knowing the Easter truth.
As Christmas approaches and we prepare to celebrate once more the coming of the Prince of Peace, let us pray for an end to violence and hatred. While we mustn’t “hide our heads in the sand” in the face of evil there is much to be commended in the words of St Paul, to the Philippians as we anticipate the joy of this Advent and Christmas season.
“Whatever is good, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” And the God of peace will be with you.” (Phil 4:8-9)
Marion joins with me in wishing you all a joyful and peaceful Christmas.