, Newburyport, MA

December 29, 2012

In a world turned upside down, He is the light

In the Spirit
The Rev. Aram T. Marashlian

---- — “The people who were sitting in darkness saw a great light, and those who were sitting in the land and shadow of death, upon them dawned a great light” (Matthew 4:16, NASB).

This year, our Thanksgiving and Christmas and Hanukkah holiday season has been turned upside down by the need of the businesses that make their greatest earnings at this time of the year. A friend, the Rev. Jeff Beebe, associate pastor of St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church in Boca Raton, Fla., preached that message a few weeks ago and I agree with him.

The day after Thanksgiving, known as Black Friday, when many stores open early in the morning, was changed this year, becoming Black Thursday. Thanksgiving, a truly American holiday where Americans would gather as families around their dinner tables to get together to enjoy each other’s company and to thank God for the blessings He has bestowed upon us, has been taken over by the uncertainty of the future and greed prevailing throughout our land and the world. Christmas has become a commercial-loaded and materialistic-directed holiday. In many places throughout the country nativity scenes, which remind of us the true meaning of the day, had figurines stolen or broken.

Then, the unthinkable occurred in Newtown, Conn. A madman forced his way into an elementary school and shot 20 innocent little children and six adults who tried to shield as many of their students as possible. This act brought darkness, not only to Newtown, but to the whole country. Mourning and grieving has gripped these United States. The true meaning of Christmas has been almost lost.

From this tragedy began an outpouring of love and kindness and compassion. People throughout the land began to reach out with all kinds of help for not only the families that were struck with death of a loved child or adult, but to the first responders who had never seen anything like this ever in their lives. Prayers were said for the people in Newtown by President Obama and peoples of all faiths.

As I watched some of the news stations on television, I saw newscaster Ann Curry and she started giving help to 26 people in memory of those who died in this great tragedy; it is titled “Twenty-six Acts of Kindness.” According to her, this form of outreach that is on Facebook, has been put into practice by many Americans and has even been started in parts of Europe. The unconditional love from God has been poured out through the Holy Spirit and, thus, the acts of kindness.

Christmas is far from dying or disappearing; The babe born in a manger has brought love, hope and light. A poem was sent to me that I will share with you; there was no signature, so I do not know the author’s name.

It is titled: “I AM STILL THE LIGHT.”

Twas 11 days before Christmas, around 9:38 when 20 beautiful children stormed through heaven’s gate

Their smiles were contagious, their laughter filled the air.

… They could hardly believe all the beauty they saw there.

They were filled with such joy, they didn’t know what to say.

They remembered nothing of what had happened earlier that day.

“Where are we?” asked a little girl, as quiet as a mouse.

“This is heaven,” declared a small boy, “we’re spending Christmas at God’s house.”

When what to their wondering eyes did appear, but Jesus, their savior. The children gathered near.

He looked at them and smiled, and they smiled just the same.

Then He opened His arms and He called them by name, and in that moment was joy that only heaven can bring.

Those children all flew into the arms of their King and as they lingered in the warmth of His embrace, one small girl turned and looked at Jesus’ face.

And as if He could read all the questions she had, He gently whispered to her, “I’ll take care of mom and dad.”

Then He looked down to earth, the world far below. He saw all of the hurt, the sorrow, and woe.

Then He closed His eyes and He outstretched out His hand, “Let my power and presence re-enter this land!”

“May this country be delivered from the hands of fools. I’m taking back my nation, I’m taking back my schools!”

Then He and the children stood up without a sound. “Come now my children, let me show you around.”

Excitement filled the space, some skipped and some ran; all displaying enthusiasm that only a small child can.

And I heard Him proclaim as He walked out of sight, “In the midst of this darkness, “I AM STILL THE LIGHT.”


The Rev. Aram T. Marashlian is chaplain emeritus of the Newburyport Fire Department.