January 9, 2008
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased! Luke 2:14
Christmas is over. The day of Epiphany, the celebration of the Wise Men coming to worship the infant Jesus, has been remembered.
For me, the opportunity of preaching on Christmas Day at Christ Victorious, a growing mission congregation in Minnesota, made these festival days most special indeed.
Sadly, it is impossible for all Christians throughout the world to say the same thing. Reports have come out of India’s Orissa province that violence has interrupted the Christmas worship of many of Christ’s followers. It is not the first time such an attack has taken place. In 1999, an Australian missionary along with his two sons, aged 8 and 10 were burned to death in their car. Orissa is also the only Indian state where someone has to register with the police before they switch religions.
This Christmas week, 450 police were called in to impose a curfew to quell the violence that had erupted after militant Hindus burned down six Christian churches on Christmas Day. The persecution continued when the day after Christmas, two more churches, along with ten homes belonging to the Savior’s followers, were also attacked. One person has been killed; many more were injured.
As I compared and contrasted the ease with which our North American Christmas is celebrated with that being remembered by our ill-treated brothers and sisters in India, I had to wonder how differently we must hear the announcement of the Christmas angels: “Glory to God in the highest and peace among those with whom He is pleased.”
While you and I must truly give thanks for a country of religious freedom, I doubt if we appreciate the coming of the Savior to seek and save lost sinners of this world more than those whose Christmas’ celebration calls for a considerable and possibly dangerous spiritual commitment.
This is why as you continue your clean-up after Christmas, as you put away your ornaments and presents, I encourage you to pray for those Christians whose post-holiday work includes the rebuilding of their homes and churches.
Let us ask the heavenly Father to send His Holy Spirit upon these mistreated believers so their hearts may continue to sing, “Glory to God in the highest.” May they remain faithful to the Savior who was born to give Himself as the Ransom to save us all from sin’s condemnation.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, may I continue to remain grateful for a country of religious freedom. From my position of comparative safety may I do what I can to help those who suffer for their belief in Jesus, Your Good News of great joy for a lost and dying world. In the Savior’s Name. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries