"To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance.To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never , never to forget."
It's been a strange week after the events in Newtown last week... I had no words. Still don't really. Only silence, and prayers, and weeping felt appropriate. Horrific headlines are nothing new in this old sin-sick world sadly. But something about finding out while I wrapped presents, while two of my babies were at school, my husband a teacher...it hit me hard. I wept for those precious lives taken that day. I watched Juden and Ella run through the yard home from school. I think their smiles were the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen. I hugged their small frames, drank in their chatter and laughter, the normalness of it, shoes and backpacks thrown on the floor. My heart broke for so many parents whose evening would be a living nightmare, whose lives would never be the same.
This is the season of advent, of waiting, worshiping, pruning this ragged heart of mine, anticipating my manger-born King's return. But for now, we are faced with so much tragedy, madness, bloodshed, and resounding evil, in Newtown and around the globe every day. It is in the headlines and in my heart too. Creation groans. My rage against evil is heightened as is my longing and awe for Jesus whose light shines brighter against the darkness.
"that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together as in the pains of childbirth until now.And not only the creation but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience." ~Romans 8:21-25
As I stood in church last Sunday I could barely get these words out,
"Come thou long expected Jesus,
Born to set thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us,
let us find our rest in thee.
Israel's strength and consolation,
hope of all the earth thou art;
dear desire of every nation,
joy of every longing heart.
Born thy people to deliver,
born a child and yet a King,
born to reign in us forever,
now thy gracious kingdom bring.
By thine own eternal spirit rule in all our hearts alone;
by thine all sufficient merit,
raise us to thy glorious throne."
Our long expected Lord; he reigns, he redeems. His heart broke over death and evil. He was no stranger to the ugly and profane. I think of how the God of all creation wrapped himself in human flesh and came to the womb of a young peasant girl. All because he would not leave us in our sin. He was willing to suffer every pain and rejection. There was nothing hallmark about his birth, no cozy glowing stable. Jesus came surrounding the massacre of all the male babies in the vicinity of Bethlehem. His life ushered in with bloodshed and evil. All I can think of is Joseph, this weary traveler, anxious that he could provide no safe, clean place for his young bride to give birth. Did they wonder what God was doing when door after door closed to them? And then Mary who without hesitation responded, "May it be done to me according to your word." She gave her body and her heart for the glory of God. So trusting and so vulnerable, in pain giving birth to our Savior, on the ground in a stable on some starry night amongst the stench of animals. This is how the king of glory came to us, so humble and yet the heavens, triumphant, rejoiced and still we rejoice for the one who will make all things new.
When my heart groans with the weight of things I can't even comprehend, I am reminded that even in the darkest places the light of Christ shines. People rise up to action, to compassion, to help. The light of kindness and love shatters through what threatens to drown us.
Lately, I am craving those moments of calm, and stillness that come like a breeze. The way her voice sounds singing Away in a Manger, the perfect blue sky, the way they look when they're asleep, the way the afternoon sun slants across the wall, the feel of soft cheeks on my neck. Soaking up the beauty, mourning with those who mourn, and praying against the darkness.
Drinking it all in and knowing that Jesus,
He's coming again.