“A voice was heard in Ramah,
weeping and much grieving.
Rachel weeping for her children,
and she did not want to be comforted,
because they were no more.”
Like much of the nation, I spent Friday grieving and being close to my own children. My heart and prayers go to the families and to the Community of Newtown, Connecticut. I cannot begin to imagine the pain. As a father I can only think how unbearable the loss of your child would be in this situation. When these parents put their children on the morning bus; when the spouses and families said goodbye to the teachers, how could they ever fathom the day would end like it did. “Why?” is the only appropriate question and response that any of us can utter. We may never fully understand.
While reading many social media posts and listening to television anchors and pundits, I must confess that these are not the days for political statements regarding gun control or whether Americans allow the mention of God in the school system. This event transcends all arguments and stances. Echoing the mayor of the small, tight-knit community, “evil came to Newtown.” Evil is in intention. Evil is in the human heart. The issue facing us had everything to do with our souls and the soul of the nation. Perhaps where we can agree is that our soul is wounded. Our grief is not only for the children and families of Newtown. Our grief goes much deeper and pierces the heart and soul of the nation. Faced with the real consequences of evil we weep together.
As the Church, we are deep into the season of Advent. Advent is a period of expectation. What will God do? How will we be the manger through which God can enter the world today to do a new thing? Those are the questions upon which we’ve been meditating. How can Advent speak to the events of Friday? My mind went immediately to this poem in Matthew’s gospel. The poem is connected to the story of Christmas. After the birth of Jesus, King Herod was angry and afraid. Fearing that a newborn Messiah would pose a threat to his throne, he had all male children two-years old and younger murdered. Evil came to Bethlehem.
Bethlehem was the place God chose to become incarnate. God entered the world to destroy evil; to bring God’s kingdom and reign. While we do see undeniable moments where God’s kingdom is here now, it is not yet here in its fullness. We will see glimpses of God’s kingdom destroying the effects of evil as we see families consoled over the weeks and months ahead. We will see the kingdom of God coming when the Church and those in our culture who care, do daily things to overcome evil with good.
However, Advent calls us to watch expectantly for the fullness of God’s kingdom. A kingdom where there is no more evil; where there is no more murder; where mothers will have no need to grieve over their children; where fathers will not need to wrestle with revenge; where pain and death is no more; where God is with his people and the earth is fully redeemed. In the tragedy of Friday’s events we can grasp more deeply the hope that we proclaim during the season of Advent. Come quickly Lord Jesus. Amen.
The Third Week of Advent
Rev. Ronald J Geisler, MDiv