The headlines read:
Let's admit it…we've gotten fairly used to reading scandalous, outrageous, and sometimes heartbreaking news even at Christmas.
We didn't know Kim Jong IL except through the descriptions provided by the press. We knew the name, not the man. We only knew a caricature from the managed news stories given to the free world. His passing does not touch us with grief, but rather with momentary concern as we watch the news stories for clues of his country's future directions.
He remains a caricature; without substance, without the warmth of personal friendship; the creation of tyrannical oppression. He was an unknown who spent a short time on the stage of life, mocking freedom, snubbing God, and has now played his final bit part.
Tim Tebow, outside the U.S. and Canada, is probably unknown as well, save in a few areas where his missionary parents have traveled. The American football player is best known for his practice of bowing on one knee in silent prayer to God. Even many Americans don't know who he is. But that may have changed as his faith was caricatured by writers on Saturday Night Live TV. Monday morning quarterbacks, however, are slowly, grudgingly beginning to admit to Tebow's growing proficiency as an athlete. The hastily sketched caricature of a religious, "goody two-shoes," is giving way to quiet respect as the brush-strokes of caricature dissolve revealing a different reality.
We may not know the man, but we know the God to whom he bends his knee in silent, reverent prayer. The caricature painted by religious scoffers and skeptics is revealing a character, steady in defeat and reverent in victory.
Their names may never be known to NCN News readers, but the tragedy surrounding their deaths touches our hearts. The Philippines may be half a world away from many of us, but the story of Jesus invaded those islands long ago, bringing hope and joy to many. The passing of 700 people in the wake of nature's wrath almost certainly means the loss of believers to friends, family, and faith communities. A list of 700 names is difficult to imagine, unless it contains just one name of a loved one or family member. The sheer size of such a list repels even caricaturization, finally giving way to anonymity.
Christmas observance (or the lack thereof) is in full swing here in the West. Carols, Christmas hymns, and even silly songs of Santa Claus flood the airwaves so that the noise of Christmas is everywhere. Yet, sadly, it is a caricature; a man-made celebration too often based on the values of consumerism while the simple, yet profound message and meaning of the event are ignored by many. And, it is that caricature that we must deal with as we move through these final days of Advent.
Charles Dickens' character, Ebenezer Scrooge, was described by his creator thusly: "The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, made his eyes red, his thin lips blue, and he spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice..." He was a caricature who was most famous for his utterance, "Bah humbug!" But even the shabby, selfish, miser found redemption by the ghosts of Christmas past, present, future, ridding himself of the ugly caricature.
During these final hours of Advent 2011, be not dismayed by the caricatures of Christmas. Beneath the superficial glitz of 21st century holiday trappings, the timeless message of Christ's Nativity rings loud and clear. It is the message of true peace and gracious goodwill. In tiny churches to grand cathedrals, the truth of Christ will rise, shattering the caricatures with revelation and power.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year
Your NCN News Team