What a week it has been. The tragic events of Newtown, CT juxtaposed against Christmas parties and baking and gift giving. A few irretrievable moments on an ordinary Friday morning, effectively burned off the bright and shiny skin of a busy, materialistic nation. The true story of Christmas took on fresh meaning and lent perspective to those inclined to see.
One of the questions that rose to the surface of the horrific stew of reality and emotions and outcry has been, Where is God in this story of tragedy? I struggle typing out words in response.
In a crazy upside down world way, I know the answer lies within the story I planned to add to my collection this week. The story we are all talking about this month and celebrating. The greatest story of love every told. Where is God in all this mess? Well, the truth is…
He was there.
He is here.
He will be there, too.
He was there…on a dark night, with a young couple, in a humble and smelly stable. He was there in the darkness talking to poor shepherds. He became Emmanuel, God with us. He chose to take on flesh in pure innocence and was rewarded by an immediate death threat. He was there and it was terrifying and audacious, unexpected and messy and THE pivotal point of creation’s story.
He is here…within us all, yearning to bind up the broken-hearted and suffer alongside the grieving. He is here offering the power to listen and forgive. He breathes for us now, when this earth steals all breath and words and understanding. He is here giving us the choice to love when it doesn’t make sense.
He will be there too….in our fear of the unknown and in the rabid, groping attempts to make sense of the chaos. He will be there in all the imagined and unimaginable. He will be there when hope is rekindled. And when we are called to love those who are difficult and even possibly dangerous.
Sunday morning our pastor reminded us that earthly security is an illusion. He then invited us as the very body of Christ, to cry out to God. To the one who was, who understands death and senseless tragedy because he lived it. To the one who is, living among us through his spirit and in our groaning intercessions when no words come forth. To the one who will be there, in our future when we have the courage to say NO to fear and allow hope to live again.
After rising from our knees, the words of this familiar hymn also rose up on the screen like a billboard of eternal truth:
God rest ye merry, gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay
Remember, Christ, our Saviour
Was born on Christmas day
To save us all from Satan’s power
When we were gone astray
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy ,
O tidings of comfort and joy.
With so many hearts breaking and funerals still to be held, the losses rippling out across our nation in shared pain, we must…we must use the very best story ever lived as an antidote to pain and loss.
A stable instead of a palace. A teenaged virgin instead of a princess. Forgiveness instead revenge. Healing instead of brokenness. Love instead of hate.
Changed hearts instead of changed laws.
C.S. Lewis wrote in The Problem of Pain:
“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain; it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
He is with us still.