Manger Snatching

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Shiloh United Methodist Church in Bedford, Virginia has been robbed!  The majority of the figures in their

English: Nativity scene on the Buenos Aires Me...

English: Nativity scene on the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Cathedral. Español: Portal de Belén en la Catedral Metropolitana de Buenos Aires Français : Crèche de Noël dans la Cathédrale métropolitaine de Buenos-Aires (Argentine) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

outdoor nativity scene were taken.  This nativity has been placed in front of the church for forty years.  Maybe it was a practical joke.  Maybe it was a decision made while under the influence of alcohol or other substances. Maybe it was more than that.  Maybe someone is trying to get even with this church and congregation.  Maybe it is not even about this church and this congregation.

The church is full of humans.  We seek to do our best, but we all make mistakes.  We hurt other people.  Sometimes the pain is very deep.  Sometimes the pain is so great that individuals feel alienated from church.  They feel that must stay away from church.  Some may even feel the need to retaliate on either a conscious or unconscious level for the pain that a church or individuals in the church caused.  The pain is often very deep.

People do hurt us, sometimes people in church.  People hurt  us for all sorts of reasons.  The question for us is how are we going to respond to the pain of the hurt.  We can choose to let it fester within in us, or we can choose a different course of action.  We can choose to let go of the pain.  We can choose to forgive others.  We can choose to let the hurt go so that we are no longer experiencing pain.  Letting go of pain does not mean we allow someone to continue hurting us.  It also does not mean that we do not seek justice.  Instead it means that we forgive those who have hurt us.  We forgive in order to stop experiencing pain.  Sometimes we are able to do this alone.  Sometimes we need help working through our pain.

The people of Shiloh United Methodist Church were interviewed on the local news.  They would like their manger scene back, including baby Jesus.  If the perpetrators will just leave it in the driveway, they will take care of the rest.  Also, they are willing to pray with the person.  The church members offered forgiveness and assistance to the ones who stole their manger scene.  What do you offer to the world?



Nothing to Say

English: me and my friend

English: me and my friend (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Most, if not all, of us have been in those situations where we find we have nothing to say.  Recently it happened to me, again.  There is a friend who is hurting.  The pain is real, and the pain is not going away.  She is hurting.  I want to help her.  I want to ease her pain, but there is nothing I can do.  This is a situation that she must go through rather than around.  Oh, if I could just find the words to take away her hurt.  I want to ease the sadness.  There are no words.


We all have to accept a certain amount of helplessness in our lives, including me.  I cannot take away the pain, hurt, and suffering.  But I can be present.  I can sit beside my friend without words.  I can pray for my her wherever I am.  I can ask God to be with her in her suffering.  I can learn to trust more full in God’s presence, love, and healing especially when I don’t have the words.


When we are hurting or when others are hurting, we have a choice to make.  We can rage against the ineffectiveness of ourselves and others to ease the hurt, or we can trust God to deal with the hurt.  We can trust God with our friends hurts that we know about as well as the hurts are not publicly know.  We can trust God to walk through us through the hard, sad, difficult, and painful times of our own lives as well.  We can open ourselves up to God’s presence with us when we are hurting rather than trying to fix things ourselves.  This dependence does not make us weak, but it allows us to grow stronger.  This reliance on God allows us to accept our own limitations as well as the limitations of those around us.


What choice will you make?  Will you put your trust in God or in your words?  For me, I will trust God because I know that I sometimes have nothing to say.