Rescue Plans & Bailouts

A couple of weeks ago I read an article detailing then presidential candidate John McCain's links to Hampton Roads.  It went into some detail describing his experience as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.  That reminded me of an earlier article from Time magazine.  This article highlighted the role that faith had played in McCain's life.

Following his captivity, his mother told him that she would often hear his father praying for John's safety.  No one could have imagined how God would answer those prayers.

While being held as a POW, McCain endured hours tied into agonizing positions.  His captors would "tie [his] arms behind [his] back and then loop the rope around [his] neck and ankles so that [his] head was pulled down between [his] knees."  It was not unusual for him to spend entire nights in this position.

Once, when he had been tied into this position, a guard entered his cell and put his finger to his lips.  Without a word, the guard reached down, loosened the rope and left the cell.  Before leaving his shift in the morning, the guard returned and refastened the ropes, so the other guards would believe that McCain had been in that position all night.

At the time, McCain could not explain this unexpected kindness.  Why would this guard risk retribution from his peers in the name of giving comfort to an enemy?

A month later, on Christmas day, he got his answer when the same guard approached him in the prison courtyard.  The guard did not smile at him or speak to him.  He didn't even look at him.  But he did give him a message.  With one foot he traced a cross in the dirt.  McCain said of that encounter: "We stood wordlessly looking at the cross, remembering the true light of Christmas, even in the darkness of a Vietnamese prison camp[*]."

I can't think of a better illustration of the meaning of Christmas.  This week begins a series of Sundays where we'll remind ourselves of the Good News of Christmas.  When we were in prison; when we were in a dark place without hope; God sent someone to remind us that we were not alone or forgotten.  He sent Jesus.

Celebration Sunday has been postponed until December 14th.  And given the bleak state of our economy this doesn't promise to be the most celebratory of Christmas seasons.  But in spite of all of that, there is good news to celebrate, I hope you can do that this morning.

[*] "A Light Amid the Darkness,", August 7, 2008.