(I wrote this Dec 15, 2012 after the Sandy Hook tragedy.)
Christmas carolers sing, “Joy to the World” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” The wonder and beauty of the season is all around. The glow of Christmas shines in the hearts of children all over the world. We spend our days wishing each other peace for a New Year.
It would seem from Thanksgiving to New Year that we live in a perfect world surrounded by happiness and laughter. But we don’t live in a snow globe. We live in a world where children die and mother’s weep. We live in a world where the glass globe has been shattered and the screams of children are disrupting our silent nights.
On Friday, December 14, 2012 twenty children and six adults were mass murdered in a Newtown, Connecticut elementary school. It was a senseless and painful act that disrupted the joy of the season. Many will take the opportunity to use this moment as a political platform. Others will create controversy by playing the blame game.
But the fact remains that we live in a wounded world among broken people. The action of one of the broken has left a community screaming out for comfort.
Generalizations of peace and comfort, love and mercy don’t seem to suffice in times of deep pain. We need something more tangible. We need something more particular to reach into the depths of our suffering.
We try to fool ourselves with happy endings and “once upon a time” beginnings but when tragedy disrupts we are fully aware that the fairy tale is an illusion. We need something greater than high sounding words and lofty expressions. While the world will try to comfort itself on platitudes of generalization God comes as Emmanuel, God with us.
“Do not be afraid; for see – I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people; to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord” the angels told shepherds in the field (Luke 2: 10).
Jesus came to be with us right here. The God we celebrate on Christmas Day is the one who comes to be with us in the particularity of our lives and on days when we are shaken out of the loftiness of “let there be peace on earth” this is the Good News that allows us to sing the rest – “and let it begin with me.”