"Going to Bethlehem"
December 10, 2013
When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us." Luke 2:15
The toy known as the Marvel Super Hero Squad Soft Shield contains 29 times the legal limit of lead. Even so, that toy may well show up under some Christmas trees this year. Understand, no parent or grandparent would ever deliberately buy a dangerous, lead-laced toy.
No, we wouldn't do such a thing deliberately ... but we might buy such a toy out of ignorance.
To help people make informed, intelligent decisions is the reason the U.S Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) exists. It is the reason they put out their annual "Trouble in Toyland" report.
Because of PIRG's warnings I now know that some stores have stocked a Lamaze-brand infant play mat, which contains high levels of antimony, a toxic metal which causes cancer. I am aware of, and will refrain from buying, a Ninja Turtles pencil case, which has high levels of cadmium, a metal that causes learning disabilities and kidney problems.
Along with chemical warnings, PIRG has identified toys which pose a choking hazard, which are too loud for children's ears, and toys and which can produce nasty results if they are swallowed.
PIRG has shown me that there are many physical dangers to children around Christmas time.
On the other hand, Christians can probably identify a few Christmas dangers that PIRG has never considered.
For example, I doubt if PIRG has ever spent any time evaluating how dangerous it can be when
* a child is given an abundance of earthly presents, but is never given the great gift of God's Son who was born in Bethlehem to be his heaven-sent Substitute and Savior;
* a child comes to believe that he, not Jesus, is the reason for the season;
* a child comes to think of Jesus as someone whom a person needs to visit only at Christmas and possibly Easter.
Truly, I give thanks that PIRG has provided some warnings to keep our children and grandchildren physically safe this Christmas season. It's really important that somebody does that.
But it is equally important we do our best to keep our children's souls protected and safe. To that end, might I suggest we be faithful in encouraging them to listen to the angel's message, which tells us that Jesus is Good News of great joy.
And it's just as important we teach them to "see this thing which has happened which the Lord has made known to us."
Not just once a year, but regularly -- faithfully -- and dare I say it ... religiously.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, grant that those who come after us may see the love which sent Jesus into this world. At the same time may they appreciate the sacrifice He made, so they might be forgiven of their sins and promised eternity in heaven. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries