In this edition of "The 3", the powerful top story is the celebration of the birth of our Savior. Also, a Christmas Eve observance had an unnerving incident, and the march of health care reform
3 - Health care reform package passes Senate, goes to conference committee
On Christmas Eve morning, the U.S. Senate gave what has been termed a "Christmas present", although it has been pointed out that the taxpayers are actually paying for it...and critics say that the high cost of health reform, as well as other spending measures passed by the current session of Congress, will saddle this generation, as well as generations to come, with an enormous tax burden. Christian groups had criticized the Senate plan for the size and scope of government control, as well as its provision for taxpayer funding of abortion. Here is the Christian Post overview in the aftermath of the vote.
Also, Liberty Counsel issued this release on behalf of the Freedom Federation prior to the vote.
And, Focus on the Family Action and its CitizenLink website had this call to action.
2 - Woman physically attacks Pope
For the second consecutive year, the same woman has attempted to physically attack Pope Benedict XVI in advance of the traditional Christmas Eve mass. Her attempt last year was apparently thwarted before she could reach the pontiff. This year, she was able to knock the Pope to the ground. The Pope, uninjured but reportedly shaken, celebrated the Mass at St. Peter's Basilica. Here is the BBC's report.
This incident, especially in light of the fact that the same woman was able to get near the pontiff for the second straight year, does call into question the security for the Pope, as well as other high-profile religious leaders. Certainly, the Pope would like to be as accessible as possible, but there is a calculated risk that goes with that. Those who protect religious leaders have a high degree of responsibility and must realize that there are unstable people that could pose a threat to the leaders in their care.
Church security has become an increasingly high priority, especially in light of attacks at churches such as New Life in Colorado Springs, where 2 people lost their lives, as well as the church where Pastor Fred Winters was shot and killed in Maryville, Illinois. The enemy is certainly attempting to steal, kill, and destroy, and it is incumbent upon churches to recognize this and have strategies to protect churchgoers and leaders. I had the opportunity to talk with the founder of the Christian Security Network, that offers resources for churches - its website is www.christiansecuritynetwork.org.
1 - Christians seek to capture true meaning of Christmas
In the midst of a troubled world, where government seems to be exceeding its authority, as hostility toward religious groups seems to be increasing, where crowded conditions cause situations that appear less-than-optimal, and people are seeking answers while God appears to be silent, Christ comes.
Now, you might think I'm describing our current situation, but actually the times in which Jesus was born had their own unique set of concerning circumstances - the fiercely oppressive Roman government had called for the census, forcing citizens to return to their birthplaces, which was no small maneuver. The Romans were trying to keep the Jews in check, and the relationship between the Empire and the Jewish leaders was uncomfortable, at best. The crowds in Joseph's hometown, Bethlehem, resulted in his pregnant bride and himself spending the night in a lowly stable, and the prophets had not had a word from God in some 400 years. Into this seeming chaos and confusion, the Savior came, as a baby, without pomp and circumstance, identifying with mankind so that men and women could come to God the Father.
And, you know, God is speaking to us today, if we will only listen! That's a powerful thread of Christmas - Jesus has come, He desires a relationship with us, and even in the midst of adversity, He calls us to be of good cheer.
Jesus-era house found in Nazareth
Rifqa Bary does not have to meet with parents
Christmas (Twi-) Light Zone: "Silent Night" not silent