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Hope for a truly messed up world
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Such an ugly event in Ceres a week before Christmas.

Two parties within Pine Ridge Apartments get into a quibble about a loud stereo. Fueled by alcohol consumption, tempers are lost. One's rage escalates to the point of a decision to attack. One dead. Three others wounded.

The rest of us are shaking our heads wondering how such an event can happen during the season of good will toward all men.

Over the weekend our jaws drop when we hear of the untimely death of a beautiful young actress named Brittany Murphy. At age 32 her heart gives out, causing many to wonder if drugs played a role like so many other deaths in Hollywood.

This comes weeks after the media gave us unrelenting and nauseating coverage of Tiger Woods' extramarital affairs.

Closer to home again, we are mortified when we hear of a bizarrely gruesome incident on the grounds of Catherine Everett Elementary School in Modesto. I attended that school as I lived so close to the school from 1966 to 1971 that whenever I hear the sound of tetherball chains hitting metal poles I am instantly transported back in my mind's eye to that location. Close indeed for the young son of my niece witnessed the deranged woman splice her skull with a Ginsu knife before being ushered into the classroom where they heard the loud pops of police service revolvers. A life is snuffed out in a real-time lesson about the ugly but real side of life.

Then there's all the countless suicides. The same niece recently heard a gunshot last month. It was the sound of her neighbor's young life being ended. They stayed with the body until the coroner arrived.

Merry Christmas, huh?

Lest anyone get too cocky about one's self-righteousness, here's an alert. I am convinced that anyone who overstates their resilence against wrongdoing or ending up a certain way is only a short distance away from doing something that would shock the neighbors. But for the grace of God go I.

There's an ugly part of all of us, for sure.

In this holiday season, let me pull out some realisms about life from a Christian perspective. Bad things happen in the world - such as the events I mentioned - because there is bad seed. The crop of humanity is contaminated and there really is no cure for it. There is something in the heart of man that is desperately wicked. Sometimes we get to see it in wholesale fashion such as when God-fearing people marched innocent women, men and children into the gas chambers during World War II.

Our bodies break and bruise and brains misfire and decay. We're all terminal. We get to the end of life and can relate to William Saroyan who said he never thought he would die. He too was corrupt.

Sounds rather hopeless. It is.

That is until you realize the impact of the Christmas story.

Anyone entering the season just thinking that it's all about giving and getting gifts and playing holiday music has missed the main act.

Part with your religious beliefs for a moment and consider this scenario with a renewed visit. Man is here. He wasn't an accident for he was created by God. It was His plan for this man and his descendants to have a distinctly personal relationship in a perfect setting. Death wasn't part of the plan but it didn't take long for man to mess up the plan by willfully disobeying God himself. At that moment, the DNA of mankind was changed, corrupted forever. Usher in death and pain and brokeness. A generation from Adam and Eve was a son would commit the first murder.

God looks down, sees the utter despair of the man He loved so much. He's heartbroken. How would He rescue man from his fallen state? How would be restore them? He becomes one of them and the world takes notice. A king's knee-jerk reaction to the threat of an impending king is to kill all first-born males in his land. Fortunately delusional King Herod fails in his attempt to snuff out the very One who came to save his sorry skin. Jesus escapes to Egypt but returns to teach about love and God in an upside manner. His words are turned into a best seller. His voice calms the seas. Indeed, He walks on water. His hands heal the sick. His lips are a mouthpiece for the very one who created all things. If you are not awed by that it's because you haven't fully grasp how depraved man was - and is - how great this God's love and the extremes He was willing to go to offer hope.

Go away from that saying it's hogwash and you really have no hope at all.

Or go away like Charlie Brown with a smile on your face, appreciating what He has done.

God bless us. Everyone.

How do you feel? Let Jeff know at