On the front page of my morning paper the other day was a fabulous reminder of Christmas.   OK, it wasn’t about the Christ in Christmas, but nevertheless it was reminding us of the celebration to come and the festivities and the feasts that will take place.   It was good news.

But alas, it wasn’t the real front page!

On opening the paper to the next page, it opened to the “real” front page – rather than an advert.   And the “real” front page was a dreadful reminder of what Christmas is not about: violence, death, destruction, fear, captivity and carnage.

“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.   I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”

John 10:10

Whatever challenges you face as an individual, as a family, as a Christian or non-Christian, may you remember that Christ came that you may have life, and “more abundantly.”

Our hearts go out to those families who have been torn apart, whose lives have been stolen, who have been killed and destroyed.   In this life, there will be trouble, there will be death and destruction, as the enemy prowls and wreaks havoc among us.

But, like those Parisians who chose to defy their tormentors by turning out in force to give blood on the day after the carnage, let us focus on the very front page of the newspaper – hold the front page, not the one after it, and focus on the good news of Christmas.

The greatest gift of all was the son of God, sent to earth to die for us, in order that we might inherit eternal life.   And He chose to forgive those who persecuted and killed Him.   He calls on us to do the same.   God is just, and as He rewards those who follow His ways, He punishes those who do not, and choose to ignore His commandments.   But it’s His place to judge and to punish – not ours.

So, hard as it might be,

“I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully … persecute you.”

Matthew 5:44

Please pray for all those affected by recent events – and not just in Paris, but in other parts of the world too.   We hear of atrocities in so many countries, and I am sure that there are many, many others we do not hear about, in countries where the mass media show less of an interest.   Pray that they hear – loudly and clearly – that the focus should be on the good news of Jesus which is eternal, rather than the newspaper article of the day.   Because today’s news is tomorrow’s chip paper – but God’s Word remains timeless and constant.

May we pray for those affected by atrocities throughout the world.   May we pray that You remain close to them, and make them know that You have come to give them eternal life, and life in abundance.   May You be their comfort, their guide, their counsellor and their redeemer.   May You protect them against the one who would come to steal, kill and destroy; and may You help them forgive their enemies, as You forgive them.   In Jesus’ name, Amen.