As I prepared to speak on another Advent Sunday, I cannot believe the similarities of agony and suffering that is told in the passages I was reading and then turning on the news and watching unfold in Connecticut. The beginning of God's reign on earth was in the midst of bloodshed and evil visited upon the most vulnerable and innocent among us: children.
A child was born and children died in the Christmas story.
"When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:
“A voice is heard in Ramah,
weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more.”
Advent is a foreboding time as Liv Larson Andrews wrote in her piece on Spokane Faith and Values. It's impossible to read Mary's prophetic and hopeful prayer on one page and then descend into madness in the next without a ton of questions. Life and death woven together in the coming of God, unbelievable glory and unspeakable horror all wrapped up in the narrative of Christmas.
It's hard for me to know how to respond to the tragic events this week. I am left struggling with questions more than answers. But as I read the Advent story this week, I found the real truth of humanity played out in all it's trauma and drama in the passages. One family saved, another died, blood spilled by madmen, divine rescues, visitations and violence and all wrapped up in a eternal moment of time.
All I can say in these difficult times of tragedy, is that God is here— a dream being born among the nightmare.