But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, to redeem those who were under the Law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. Galatians 4:4-5
In my Christmas devotions I wasn't going to talk about the murder of 67-year-old Michele O'Dowd of Jacksonville, Florida.
It was simply too great a jump, too dissonant a story to share with our readers who are still in the "days of Christmas."
Then I had second thoughts. You see, the body of O'Dowd was found by her twin brother just days before the holy day. He went to visit his sister and found her home had been ransacked and rummaged through. He finally discovered her body when he spotted her foot sticking out from under a pile of Christmas presents. His sister's face had been bloodied.
A confession of guilt has been made by Patty White, a woman whom Michele O'Dowd had befriended, tutored and treated as family. It also appears a fair number of people in the gated community knew something was going on the day O'Dowd was murdered. They knew, but nobody bothered to do anything to stop the situation.
No, I wasn't going to tell that story until I realized that, for Christians, every year there is a body hidden amidst the Christmas presents.
We who know the whole story of the Babe of Bethlehem realize that Jesus did not stay a Baby, did not remain in that manger. On the contrary, He grew into manhood, and spent His life to save ours. For three years He befriended, tutored and treated as family 12 disciples. Yet, at the end, one of them was personally responsible for His death.
As Jesus carried our sins, He was shuffled from one bogus trial to another. Many knew what was happening and the injustice which was being done, but nobody did anything to stop it. The Roman procurator washed his hands of the matter, and the king of Jesus' own country refused to defend Him.
And so it is that Jesus was crucified. He had been born to die -- which is why we Christians remember there must always be a Body amidst the Christmas presents.
A sad picture? Indeed. But it is a picture which is brightened by the dawning of Resurrection Sunday and a living Lord who can proclaim, "Because I live, you will live also" (see John 14:19).
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, while I give thanks for Your coming, may I always remember that You came to die and rise so I might be forgiven and saved. This I ask in Your Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries