December 19, 2012
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”
Blessings to you in the name of Emmanuel! Now that the late night studying is over, final papers are turned in, and exams are complete, my earnest prayer is that you are surrounded by family, friends, and loved ones. I remember when I was an undergraduate and graduate student that by the time the semester was over, the church was already weeks into Advent. Suddenly, Christmas eve is just around the corner. In this season of late November and early December schoolwork, it can be easy to miss the church’s preparation for God with us (Emmanuel). But even in our busyness, God’s promise is to come to us, to dwell among us, to share in our suffering, and to redeem us.
Last Friday morning, a small community in Connecticut was struck by the heinous mass murder of 20 children and a half dozen adults. In the wake of this tragedy, pastors, theologians, politicians, and so many others are writing and speaking about God’s presence or absence in the world. The deep pain of knowing that little ones lost their lives last week compels us to protest the tragedy. ‘Why, O God? Have you turned your eyes away from us?‘ Sandy Hook was an unexpected event in our Advent season-a disruption to the baking of Christmas cookies, the joy of Christmas carols, the innocence of the nativity with Baby Jesus, and the hope of Advent.
I think it is such a time as this that we look with fresh eyes at the promise of God coming to us in Jesus the Infant Christ. God comes to us in our suffering, indeed the suffering of all creation. God comes to us in the midst of violence. God comes to us to in the midst of war. God comes to us in the midst of loneliness. God comes to us in the midst of depression. God comes to us in the midst of both our joy and sadness. God comes to us in the dark night of the soul. God comes to us when we think that there is no one in the world who understands what’s going on in our lives. God comes to us even in times and places like Columbine, Virginia Tech, and Sandy Hook. God comes to us this Advent season.
My heartfelt prayer for you is that you surround yourselves with love and hope this Christmas season. Rest your bodies and minds. Have fun. Give sacrificially. Be safe.
May the blessings of God Almighty be with you today and every day coming.