With the Newtown, Conn. school shooting still fresh in my mind, the children of Richland Hills United Methodist Church in NRH, TX looked especially precious to me when I performed my Christmas magic show on Sunday afternoon. About thirty kids and “kids-at-heart” gathered in the fellowship hall to watch my goofy alter ego, the “Almost Amazing Marko,” magically decorate a Christmas tree picture, produce candy canes, twist a reindeer balloon and do a funny routine called Hippity-Hop Santas, in which two Clauses kept changing the colors of their suits.
At the end of the show, I found a big red box with a gift tag boldly marked, “FROM GOD.” I reached in and tenderly brought out a realistic baby doll wrapped in a glistening blue blanket. I reminded the children that one of their own, a Child, started the first Christmas. Then I began to sing Away In A Manger, and everyone joined in.
On the ride home, I wistfully thought of another magic show I performed over four years ago at Custer Road United Methodist Church in Plano, TX. I remember two sweet African-American girls in the front row, their eyes wide and wondering as I performed my tricks. As always, I ended with a message about Jesus and His immeasurable love for us.
Hours later, these children and their foster family were killed on their way home from church, victims of a traffic accident in which a speeding car ran a red light.
None of us have much time on this earth. The tenth verse of Psalm 90 starkly reminds us that “the days of our lives add up to seventy years, or eighty, if one is especially strong. But even one’s best years are marred by trouble and oppression. Yes, they pass quickly and we fly away.” (NET Bible)
In times of disaster, this lesson comes crashing back into our hearts. But then we return to our ruts and routines–and we forget. Lord, please, “teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12 NIV)